Monday, June 30, 2014

Juliet Finds Out In Psych Season Seven!

The Good: Good character development, Decent continuity, Good performances, Very funny
The Bad: Cases continue to have a repetitive/predictable quality to them, Unfortunately obvious product placement
The Basics: Just as Psych was in danger of getting completely stale, it shakes up the formula with Shawn telling Juliet the truth about his abilities.

I’ve been waiting for almost a year to see the seventh season of Psych and the joke, having now watched all fifteen episodes of the season, is that I am psyched to be able to review it. After the extended wait to see the season, I was thrilled that the season was actually one of the funniest seasons of Psych yet. Perhaps as cool as the fact that the show was abruptly funny again in a way that it had not been for the prior ones (at least, not in any memorable ways), is the fact that the show has managed to successfully reinvent itself. The penultimate season of Psych shakes up the familiar formula of the series with genuine character development and continues the series moving forward with a climax that shifts the direction of the series to set up the final season.

Halfway through the season, Juliet learns the truth about Shawn Spencer and that changes the tone of the latter half of the season. In its seventh season, Psych is largely about relationships. Carlton Lassiter has a real shot at love when Marlow is released from prison and they find themselves at the mercy of a vindictive parole officer until Lassiter decides to commit to her. Gus has yet another relationship that seems doomed to failure when it turns out Rachael has a seven year-old son and she needs to take him to Europe for months. But the big relationship changes come with Shawn and Juliet. The two move in together and when Shawn tells Juliet the truth, she pushes Shawn away.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, Psych follows Shawn Spencer, a super-observant young man who fakes being a psychic in order to assist the Santa Barbara Police Department on hard-to-solve murder cases. In the seventh season, Shawn and his partner Gus go rogue in order to find who shot Henry. They get embroiled in a case that finds a charity sending weapons to war-torn areas worldwide. With Henry wounded and in need of convalescence, Shawn considers moving in with him, which appears to push Juliet away as she gets involved with a case that involves an internet dating service that is the common link in a string of murders. Shawn and Gus help a pair of college students in their attempt to prove Bigfoot is living in a nearby woods and Juliet’s new stepfather turns out to not be the milquetoast accountant he appears and Henry gets embroiled in a Mexican mob case that nearly leaves him and the rest of the team dead. After a parody of Clue (or And Then There Were None), Gus’s relationship with Rachael is put on the rocks when he takes her to the Cirque where they witness a murder.

At Lassiter’s wedding, Shawn tells Juliet the truth about his investigative technique. In the wake of her learning the truth, she pushes Shawn away and Psych does an experimental episode (a la Sliding Doors) wherein Shawn solves a case split into two different universes (one where he reacts to telling Juliet the truth and another that denies that event occurred). When Juliet kicks Shawn out of the house, Shawn becomes convinced that Juliet’s new roommate is a killer. With the two estranged, Shawn begins to take bigger and bigger risks, like running for Mayor in order to delay a mayoral candidate from succeeding the murdered Mayor of Santa Barbara. Gus accidentally fouls up a crime scene when his terrible boss dies and Shawn only makes it worse when he tries to help. The guys become DJs to try to solve a murder of a DJ and Henry finds a dead body that seems to implicate a plastic surgeon friend of his. The season climaxes in an episode that finds the Santa Barbara Police Department investigated and Juliet has to choose between exposing Shawn or protecting the SBPD!

There is an awkward second climax to the seventh season of Psych. After the season finale of the seventh season, Psych did a musical episode and it is an awkward addition to the season for several reasons. First and foremost, “Psych The Musical” seems to occur before Shawn came out to Juliet and before the end of the season (as climactic events in that episode change the balance of power at the SBPD). While the episode is hilarious, it is an irksome discontinuity in the seventh season.

Far less plot-centered than the prior seasons, Psych Season Seven contains a ridiculously high number of funny lines (most often delivered by Kurt Fuller’s Woody the coroner), but it also contains genuine character development. The characters in Psych actually evolve in the seventh season. To better understand the seventh season of Psych, it helps to know who the characters are:

Shawn Spencer – The fake psychic continues to solve cases with incredibly few initial clues. He becomes protective of his father after Henry is shot and he is even willing to move back in with him . . . until his mother moves in and Shawn walks in on the two in bed together! He decides in a critical moment to be honest with Juliet. When she takes the news poorly, he fights for her at every opportunity, even when it embarrasses her,

Burton Guster – Shawn’s right hand man, he tries to develop a relationship with Rachael, even when he finds out she has a son. He tries to develop the relationship, despite the fact that he is very uncomfortable with Max and Shawn is super-uncomfortable with what he sees as Gus’s legitimate chance at happiness and a good relationship. When that relationship falls apart, he takes care of Shawn as Shawn struggles with his estrangement from Juliet,

Carlton Lassiter – Loosening up significantly, he helps Shawn track down the man who shot Henry. He becomes enthralled with Marlow and happily marries her in order to take the power away from a vindictive parole officer he briefly dated in the past He remains vigilant and gun happy even after his marriage,

Juliet O’Hara – She acts largely as a sidekick though she is much more in tune with Shawn’s sense of humor. But when she sees some of the clues Shawn collects during the case that precedes Lassiter’s wedding, she questions Shawn point blank and learns the truth. Devastated at being lied to for more than six years, she pushes Shawn away. But as she sees the consequences of Shawn stumbling and realizes what it could mean if the truth ever got out, she faces a much bigger decision than what to do with her relationship with Shawn,

Henry Spencer – Having been shot at the prior season’s climax, he finds himself bedridden at the outset of the season. After casting off the annoying woman who plagues him in the hospital, he reconnects with his ex-wife and forges a new friendship with Juliet’s stepfather, despite the fact that friendship gets him shot at. He tries to protect an old friend even when evidence piles up against her and he gives Shawn the emotional kick he needs to tell Juliet the truth,

and Karen Vick – After giving Shawn the off the books encouragement to go after the men who were involved in shooting Henry, she sits out most of the season, save for exposition purposes. She does a ton of shots at Marlow’s bachelorette party and ends the season in her most precarious position yet.

On the acting front, James Roday and Maggie Lawson give the most intense performances of the season. Roday directs the critical episode of the season, but when Shawn and Juliet have their falling out, it gives Roday the chance to play with much more dramatic range. He is intense and plays the wounded man exceptionally well. With an equally wonderful level of skill, Maggie Lawson plays Juliet as hurt, angry, and confused. Lawson plays Juliet with a realism that makes her compelling to watch for the entire second half of the season.

Ultimately, the seventh season of Psych completely reinvigorates the sagging series. Moving beyond the episodic nature of the show’s usual formula, Psych becomes more serialized and intense, making it one of the best seasons of the entire series.

For prior seasons of Psych, check out my reviews of:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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