Psych: The Polarizing Express

When Shawn is caught on a surveillance camera performing an illegal search of an office, the district attorney’s case against a notorious mobster named Czarsky for tax fraud is thrown out. The mayor comes down hard on Chief Vick, so she places Shawn on indefinite suspension and, for good measure, fires Henry. Furious with his son for his devil-may-care attitude toward police work, Henry wonders aloud whether things would’ve turned out better if Shawn hadn’t returned to Santa Barbara and re-entered his life five years ago.

Yep, it’s an It’s a Wonderful Life-themed episode, folks. ‘Tis the season.

Shawn falls asleep in the Psych office, which is festively decked out for the holidays, and wakes to find Bad Santa’s Tony Cox, playing himself, clad in an elf outfit and throwing snowballs at him.

This episode is a doozy. I mean that in the best possible way.

In Shawn’s dream, Tony informs Shawn that he’s his superego. He’s going to show Shawn what life would’ve been like had he stayed away from Santa Barbara. (While Shawn and Tony chat, the Grinch scampers through the background outside the office windows, wrestling presents away from people. Random! Yet sort of awesome!)

First up: Henry’s house. The place is a disaster, filled with dirty dishes and garbage. Henry, bloated and with long, unkempt hair, sits on the couch in his underwear watching television and sobbing on the phone to his ex-wife Madeline, who has just remarried an African prince.

Next stop: Gus. Since it’s Shawn’s dream, he decides he wants to see Gus’s alternate future in the form of a mid-Nineties UPN sitcom, which is titled Wilin’ With Da Gusters. Gus has a materialistic bombshell wife (former Cosby kid Keshia Knight Pulliam), an obnoxious teenage son, and a mustache. The sitcom is loaded with inane catch phrases and random dance numbers, and it’s really sort of awesome. If it were a real show, I wouldn’t watch it, but I’d have due respect for a universe where Wilin’ With Da Gusters exists.

S.B.P.D. headquarters: Since Shawn had rewatched Austin Powers the previous night, his dream version of Chief Vick sports a German accent and a dominatrix-inspired uniform, a la Frau Farbissina. In this version of reality, she’s second-in-command to Lassiter, who wears a monocle and a sword and reprimands his officers for being too reluctant to shoot suspects.

Juliet: In Shawn’s dream, Juliet never received her transfer to Santa Barbara, because Shawn never exposed Lassiter’s affair with his pre-Juliet partner. Instead, she’s a cop in the Miami Police Department, with huge feathered hair, a la Heather Locklear in T.J. Hooker. She’s currently involved in a big shootout with a horde of heavily-armed, pink-Cadillac-driving Cuban gangsters, and it’s pretty much the best cheeseball Eighties cop show ever.

Shawn also receives a visit from a dream-version of his younger self, played by Skyler Gisondo, who sometimes plays Young Shawn in those childhood flashbacks that kick off every episode. Or used to kick off every episode, at least -- the flashbacks have been few and far between this season, and it seems like they’re being slowly phased out. Tony remarks that Young Shawn doesn’t look much like Old Shawn. Young Shawn quips, “Well, we changed -- sometimes week to week,” in reference to way Young Shawn used to be played by Liam James.

Shawn wakes from his dream and abruptly realizes there were no surveillance cameras in Czarsky’s office, and thus the footage of his illicit search must’ve been shot from somewhere outside. Shawn and Gus find the apartment from where the camera was set up. To make sure they follow police procedure this time, they take Lassiter with them to search it.

Inside, they find bomb-making equipment and a cell phone recently used to place calls to Miami. The inhabitant of the apartment, a young man named Juan (Jacob Vargas), was the fiancé of a woman who was killed by Czarsky when she refused to pay him protection money.

Lassiter arrests Juan. Shawn realizes Juan’s watch is actually a timer, and that his bomb is set to kill Czarsky. Lassiter and Juliet hurry to protect Czarsky, but by the time the explosives experts arrive, they find no trace of a bomb -- because Gus, with help from Shawn and Juan, already secretly disarmed it to prevent Juan from going to prison.

Shawn and Gus rally the people who’ve been harassed by Czarsky to testify against him. With a newly solid case, Lassiter re-arrests Czarsky while Shawn and Gus drink Juan’s special lactose-free eggnog in celebration. And Shawn gets back in Chief Vick’s good graces and even arranges for Henry to get his job back.

An exceedingly odd yet by no means displeasing episode.

Lassiter-based awesomeness:
(On the charges against Czarsky being dropped): “If I weren’t a cop, I’d shoot him in a dark alley and leave evidence suggesting his own people were behind it. And when I say ‘I’, I mean a fake, imaginary detective, to be played by Powers Boothe.”

Awesome opening credits:
Special Christmas-themed credits, complete with snowfall and twinkling lights.


Rosey said…
Loved Tony Cox in this episode! Cute, quirky Holiday episode.
Morgan Dodge said…
Yeah, I felt like this one was ALL over the place. I became genuinely confused a couple of times. But seeing Gus with his sit com family? With a bad mustache? For my money that made the entire episode worth it.

Also, since it was so far out there it had an unpredictability that was way nice. I had to rewind the DVR more than once to fully catch things like the Grinch. Nice touch.
Morgan Richter said…
Rosey, yeah, I thought it was a fun holiday episode. Loopy as all hell, but a lot of fun.

Boy-Morgan: Gus's sitcom family (married to Rudy Huxtable! Very cool! Though, if you recall that Gus's mom has been played in episodes past by Clair Huxtable, it starts to get sort of incestuous and icky) made the episode for me, too. Loved Gus's mustache and the random dancing. You can always tell the episodes that James Roday (Shawn) wrote or cowrote (this one, the season finale, the Twin Peaks one...), because they tend to be all over the place and completely bonkers.

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