Psych: Mr. Yin Presents

An outrageously clever Psych season finale. Lots of fun. The whole episode was a prolonged Hitchcock homage, and I’m going to be honest: The references were flying fast and furious, and I didn’t catch all of them. Everyone really did a bang-up job with this episode, which was directed and co-written by series star James Roday. Everything from the dramatic music stings to the camera angles seemed authentically Hitchcockian. High marks all around.

After watching a revival of Psycho at the local theater, Shawn and Gus head to a diner and meet with the creepy and eccentrically-named Mary Lightly (Jimmi Simpson), who’d helped them out on their Season Three case involving serial killer Mr. Yang (Ally Sheedy). Mr. Yang, currently safely locked away in a mental institution, has published a book about her exploits. Passages in the book have led Mary to believe Mr. Yang worked with an accomplice.

Shortly thereafter, the body of their waitress from the diner is found strangled in the woods, her corpse arranged like a yin-yang symbol.

When they search the diner for clues, Mary finds a yin-yang symbol on a pie with a crossword puzzle hidden inside the meringue. Highlighted clues from the puzzle spell out “Find Me.”

Shawn, Gus and Mary visit Mr. Yang in the asylum, and once again, Ally Sheedy brings the creepy. (I still wish they’d managed to work both Sheedy and Judd Nelson into the same episode. Ah, missed opportunities…) She offers to trade information with them, which leads to this exchange:

Shawn: This isn’t Silence of the Lambs, okay?
Gus: It’s totally Silence of the Lambs.
Shawn: That makes you Frankie Faison.
Gus: I know.
Shawn: Fine.

Heh.

Clues from the crossword puzzle lead Shawn to a specific seat in the theater where he and Gus had watched Psycho, where he finds a taunting note from the killer. Shawn falls asleep in the office and has a thoroughly bonkers Hitchcock-inspired paranoid dream (highlights: Juliet getting stabbed in the shower and Lassiter dressed as Norman Bates in mom-drag), which leads him to deduce that Yang’s accomplice is Mary. He wakes to find an “O” painted on the end of the Psych logo emblazed across their office windows. Nice touch.

Mary produces another clue-laden note chock full of Hitchcock references. While Juliet and Lassiter investigate (more sight gags: At one point, Lassiter gets chased across a field by a low-flying propeller plane, a la Cary Grant in North by Northwest), Shawn and Gus snoop around Mary’s creepy house (which, naturally, is a ringer for Norman Bates’s house from Psycho). They find another note, which appears to be an attempt to lure the killer’s next victim into a trap.

Shawn, Gus, Lassiter and Juliet stake out the place specified in the note. When Mary arrives, they assume he’s the killer… until he gets stabbed and killed, a la Martin Balsam in Psycho, by a shadowy man wearing a fedora.

The killer sends script pages to the police instructing our heroes to go to a deserted building, where they’ll each be cast as an archetypal Hitchcock character: Shawn is James Stewart in Rear Window, Gus is Canada Lee in Lifeboat, Lassiter is Rod Taylor in The Birds, Juliet is Kim Novak in Vertigo, and Henry, lucky fellow, gets to be Sean Connery in Marni. It’s all an elaborate trap, of course, and despite the presence of police snipers, Juliet gets kidnapped. Meanwhile, Shawn’s girlfriend Abigail (Rachael Leigh Cook) arrives for a visit, but also gets nabbed by a shadowy man in a fedora.

Clues left by the killer lead Gus and Lassiter to Juliet, who is bound to a clock tower, while Henry and Shawn find Abigail tied under a pier while the tide comes in. Shawn spots the man in the fedora, but has to let him escape to save Abigail from drowning.

Denouement: Henry accepts the job as police liaison that Chief Vick offered him a couple episodes ago, Shawn and Gus attend Mary’s funeral (dressed in matching blinding white racquetball outfits -- oh, don’t ask) , Lassiter hugs a sobbing Juliet, and Abigail breaks up with Shawn, claiming she’s not cut out for his dangerous life.

A strong end to an uneven season. Good show, Psych.

Pineapple spotting: It didn’t even occur to me to try to look for it.

Lassiter-based awesomeness:
Shawn comes up with their strategy for hunting the killer:
Shawn: We do nothing.
Lassiter: Nothing? How Seinfeldian.

Awesome Eighties references: They didn’t have time to squeeze too many in, what with all the Hitchcock references, but here’s a good one:

After amiable lunkhead Officer McNab figures out the simple crossword-puzzle clue, Mary says, “I think that bailiff from Night Court is right on.”

Comments

I was actually looking forward to your post on this episode. Agree completely--I was apprehensive about this episode because Psych hasn't been on its game lately and this felt like it could have been the concept episode that sunk the series if it hadn't been well executed. Squealed with delight at the Royal Tenenbaums reference at the end.
Morgan Richter said…
I think this episode was a great finish to the season. They really nailed it, which was a relief, because so many episodes lately have been just sort of... off. The timing couldn't have been better -- I was feeling sort of exhausted by the show, and now I can't wait for the new season to start.
Lou said…
What a frentic and fun episode. Great way to end the season. Entertaining, creepy and well above my level of Hitchcock knowledge. Very clever stuff.

Great recap Morgan. I chuckled heartily at the Lassiter as Cary Grant plane scene.

I have no idea about the pineapple, it was probably on the photo frame of Mr Yang and Mr Ying right at the end.
Morgan Richter said…
Oh, yeah -- I know there was some kind of tag ending with the mysterious man in the fedora, but my recording cut it off (I had all sorts of wacky hijinks with my power that night, and it's something close to miraculous that I managed to record it at all), and I haven't been able to catch the ending online yet. So I know my recap is missing whatever that vital bit of information was.

Lassiter as Cary Grant running from the plane was awesome. I also loved the cheeseball rear-projection effect and the loud dramatic music when Henry and Lassiter were trapped in the car together.

The episode went totally above and beyond my Hitchcock knowledge, too, and I was a fricking film major. Henry dressed as a bellhop/theater usher in Shawn's dream? You got me.
Anna said…
It's funny, because I had actually grown a bit unhappy with Psych before the hiatus, and jut ignored it for a few weeks until I caught up with it last week, and I actually enjoyed the latest episodes a lot. I've no clue why, but to me it feels like Psych's slump happened before everyone else says it happened. Heh. :D
Morgan Richter said…
Of the second half of this season, there were three episodes I liked quite a bit -- the Juliet episode, the Jaws homage, and this one. And heck, I'll throw the Judd Nelson episode in there, too. So I guess that would just leave three episodes I was pretty so-so about (Think Tank, Thrill Seekers, and You Can't Handle This Episode), which doesn't really sound like much of a slump. Certainly previous seasons have had their share of clunkers, too.

Ah, well. Overall, I don't think I was thrilled with the season in general, but I suppose there's no earthly sense in taking Psych too seriously. It's a cute show, with a likeable cast, and it sometimes makes me laugh. That's about all I can ask for.
Rosey said…
I agree that it was a great end to a so-so season. I actually watched the first 3 episodes over again and they were better this time around. Can't wait for season 5!
Morgan Richter said…
I actually watched the first 3 episodes over again and they were better this time around.

That's good to hear. I'll have to rewatch them, too. I don't remember them being terrible or anything (at its worst, Psych can be a little half-assed, but it's rarely actively bad), but they just didn't stick in my head very long.

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