Psych: Shawn 2.0

We open with Shawn listening to an audio book: Internity, a teen-geared saga about vampire doctors. Aaaaaaand it’s already clear the Psych writers are fully caffeinated and at the top of their game this week.

This week’s crime: An elderly woman, Lucy Friedman, died at an outdoor Philharmonic concert. The Santa Barbara Police Department assumes the death was due to natural causes, but Shawn notices a can of bug spray beside Lucy’s corpse. He suspects her death is linked to two other recent cases in which aerosol cans were found next to the bodies. Before Shawn can dazzle the SBPD with his insights, his thunder is stolen by the arrival of famed criminal profiler Declan Rand, who proclaims that Lucy was murdered, then immediately sets about flirting shamelessly with an instantly-smitten Juliet. Why, it’s Nestor Carbonell! Nice to see him and his fabulous eyelashes back on my television screen (as Shawn puts it, Declan has “the most impossibly dark eyelashes on any man ever”). The combination of Declan’s crime-solving skills and his vast knowledge of pop culture minutiae leads Gus to dub him Shawn 2.0. This does not make Shawn 1.0 happy.

(Lengthy digression #1: Nestor Carbonell is one of a handful of Lost cast members who generated so much viewer bonhomie during his time on the show (throw Jorge Garcia, Michael Emerson, Henry Ian Cusick, and Ken Leung onto that pile, too) that, for the rest of his career, viewers are automatically going to perk up at seeing him appear in other projects. Last week, while my sister was visiting, I finally got around to watching the final season of Lost -- I know the critical reaction was mixed, but I totally dug it from start to finish. I particularly liked how many of the characters had pretty much gone bonkers by that point (shotgun-toting Claire! Unflappable killer zombie Sayid!). And then there was Carbonell’s Richard Alpert, who’d been perpetually competent and unruffled for most of the series, who spent the final season wild-eyed and excitable, scampering around with dynamite and trying to blow stuff up. Good times.)

Suspecting there’s a serial killer on the loose, Chief Vick and Henry hire Declan to help solve the murders. As all the victims were elderly and in poor health, Declan suspects these were mercy killings. He declares that the killer is likely a female in her mid-thirties.

All three victims were in need of liver transplants at the time of their deaths. In fact, they were the top three names on a list of potential liver recipients. Suspecting someone is trying to worm his or her way to the top of the list, Shawn and Declan focus their attention on the fourth name: Catherine Bicks (Meredith Monroe), who, at age 35, fits the criteria of Declan’s profile of the killer.

(Lengthy digression #2: While probably best known for playing Andie on Dawson’s Creek, Meredith Monroe also had a recurring role as Hotch’s wife Haley on Criminal Minds. Immediately before this episode aired last night, I caught a Criminal Minds repeat from last season on CBS, in which (hey, spoiler!) Haley met a violent end at the hands of Hotch’s evil arch-nemesis, played by former teen idol C. Thomas Howell. Howell, in his three or four appearances on the show, managed to shoot his way to the top of my personal list of all-time greatest television villains, in a balls-out bravura performance that finally managed to wipe the taint of 1986’s Soul Man from my brain. Seriously, he was awesomely creepy. As some inspired wag on YouTube quipped about the fifth-season premiere, in which Howell’s character captures and brutalizes poor Hotch in the nastiest possible way, “Ponyboy sure didn’t stay gold.” Anyway, last year I had lunch with Hal Sparks while he was still smarting from losing the title of Greatest Celebrity Magician to Howell in the poorly-named VH1 reality show, Celebracadabra, which is so delightfully random that it makes me grin stupidly just thinking about it. Point being, I think we’re heading into a C. Thomas Howell renaissance, and the powers-that-be at Psych should put him on their short list of dream guest stars, right up there with Val Kilmer and Billy Zane.)

It turns out that Catherine was in Switzerland at the time of the murders, which rules her out as a suspect and bursts holes in Declan’s credibility. However, a witness steps forward, claiming to have seen Catherine switching Lucy Friedman’s insect repellant for another bottle at the Philharmonic performance.

Shawn discovers Declan lied about his impressive credentials on his resume. (He also discovers Declan is a fellow aficionado of the vampire doctor book series. Great minds think alike.) Shawn and Gus trail Declan to his lavish mansion -- Declan, it seems, is filthy rich. He confesses to Shawn that he discovered he had a natural knack for criminal profiling, so he faked his credentials, much in the way Shawn fakes his psychic abilities. Shawn is in awe of Declan’s dream lifestyle -- for instance, he’s hired Tears for Fears’ Curt Smith to sit by his pool, singing “Everybody Wants To Rule the World” and “Mad World” around the clock. Shawn -- who, viewers will recall, once dressed up as Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal to perform a duet in a talent show (with Gus as Michael Jackson, natch) -- is overwhelmed by the total awesomeness of this. As am I. I love me some Tears for Fears.

Shortly thereafter, Catherine Bicks is found dead in a parking garage, with Declan crouching beside her corpse. He’s arrested for her murder. Convinced Declan is innocent, Shawn consults with the coroner and discovers Catherine was in perfect health at the time of her death -- she was somehow on the liver transplant list without actually needing a new liver.

The real killer turns out to be Catherine’s twin sister, Maddy, who was in severe need of a liver but couldn’t qualify for a transplant because of her alcoholism. Catherine put herself on the transplant list in Maddy’s place, while Maddy, unbeknownst to Catherine, set about murdering everyone ahead of her on the list. When Catherine confronted her about this, Maddy killed her, too.

And that’s pretty much it, save for a bit in the end credits where James Roday, Dulé Hill and Curt Smith get together to perform a kick-ass rendition of “Head Over Heels.” Fine stuff.

Awesome opening credits:
Curt Smith performs a rearranged Tears for Fears-inspired version of the theme song. It is, as you might expect, totally awesome.

Awesome Eighties reference:
Shawn, after Gus points out that Shawn has faked his credentials in exactly the same way as Declan: “This isn’t about me, or the fact that I wasn’t really a background dancer in the “Thriller” video.”

Lassiter-based awesomeness:
Lassiter is grumpy that he burst into Catherine Bicks’s apartment to arrest her based on Declan’s criminal profile, only to realize she’d been out of the country at the time of the murders:
Lassiter: I don’t enjoy pointing my gun at innocent women.
Juliet: You don’t?
Lassiter: No! I’m not 29 anymore.

Comments

Rosey said…
I really liked this episode! Great lines! My dad really liked this one too and he does enjoy Psych but not as much as I do and this ep. made him crack up.

Sad we only have one more left then a big break :(
Morgan Richter said…
The combination of Curt Smith and Nestor Carbonell really sold me on this episode. It was cute and fun.

USA really loves these short seasons, doesn't it? It's too bad that we've only got a week or two left of Psych, White Collar, AND Covert Affairs before a long break. We had an embarrassment of riches, to be followed by nothing.

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