Psych: Shawn Rescues Darth Vader

Hey, Psych is back for a sixth season! Good news. There’s a comforting sameness to Psych -- it’s only occasionally great, but for the most part, it’s pretty darn entertaining. While this isn’t one of the great episodes, it’s a pleasant way to kill an hour.

The episode opens with a tuxedo-clad Shawn slinking about the rented mansion of the British Ambassador, who’s been staying in Santa Barbara while trying to clear an English exchange student, Colin Hennessy, of charges of strangling his girlfriend to death. The charges were recently dropped, so the Ambassador is throwing a celebratory bash, which Shawn is in the middle of crashing. Shawn and Gus, it seems, were hired by a bratty neighborhood kid to break into the mansion to retrieve a mint-condition 1978 Darth Vader action figure (complete with double-telescoping lightsaber), which the Ambassador’s twerpy son had stolen. To avoid getting caught by security guards, Shawn ducks under the Ambassador’s bed… and finds the strangled corpse of a young woman.

(And that’s it for the Star Wars theme. A few quick jokes about the prequels, a “Luke, I am your father” gag, and that’s it. A pity -- Psych usually does so well at taking pop-culture topics and running away with them. Remember the episode-long homage to the entire John Hughes oeuvre? I was expecting something similar here, but no. Life, it is full of disappointment.)

Unwilling to confess to sneaking into a diplomatic residence under false pretenses, Shawn slips out of the mansion, then convinces Lassiter and Juliet to return with him to investigate, claiming he’s had a psychic vision of the dead woman.

Lassiter, meanwhile, is still in a deep, angry snit over last season’s discovery of Juliet and Shawn’s affair. Never one to suffer a snit in silence, he straps Juliet into a polygraph machine and tries to get her to confess to the relationship. Juliet is having none of this.

(Hey, speaking of Lassiter: My friend and fellow aficionado of 1980s pop culture, Alex Albrecht, just directed a short Voltron-themed film starring Tim Omundson. It’s very cool. Watch it here. I mean, Voltron! Lassiter as a Voltron pilot! That’s an undeniably weird bit of casting, right? I always thought the pilots were feisty Japanese teens with awesome spiky hair and sensitive bone structure. But Omundson is so inherently cool that it sort of works, and besides… Voltron!)

Anyhoo. They all head over to the Ambassador’s residence to search for the body. Oh, hey, the Ambassador is played by Malcolm McDowell! Awesomesauce. Malcolm McDowell can do no wrong. Which is not to say he never appears in bad projects -- he’s got a whole lot of crap on his long and distinguished résumé -- but he tends to be the very best thing about a lot of very bad films and television shows. They also meet his Vice-Consul, who is played by the slinky and awesome Polly Walker. Long story short: The dead woman is no longer under the bed, but Shawn correctly deduces that her corpse has been shifted to the swimming pool. The dead woman is identified as Annabeth York, a member of the Ambassador’s staff, who had recently uncovered the evidence that cleared Colin Hennessy’s name. She was strangled to death in precisely the same manner that Colin’s girlfriend Sarah Peele had been murdered.

Shawn theorizes that Annabeth and the Ambassador were having an affair. Anxious to find proof, he steals a key from the Ambassador’s twerpy kid and sneaks into the mansion. He discovers the Ambassador was in Zurich at the time of Sarah’s murder. He also overhears the Ambassador telling his Vice-Consul that he wants to let the police know about his affair with Annabeth.

Figuring this makes it unlikely the Ambassador murdered Sarah and Annabeth, Shawn volunteers his services to track down the real killer. Annabeth had received a cryptic text the night of the murder -- “The witnesses were right” -- suggesting Colin was indeed guilty of Sarah’s murder… okay, you know what? No one ever gained anything by scrutinizing the ins and outs and whys and wherefores of a Psych plot too carefully, so let’s wind this up fast: The murderer turns out to be Colin’s host father, an embassy employee with a dangerous fascination for Colin’s girlfriend. Annabeth uncovered evidence suggesting he killed Sarah, so he strangled her as well. And the Vice-Consul moved Annabeth’s body to the swimming pool in a misguided though well-intentioned attempt to shield the Ambassador from suspicion.

Worth noting: At one point in all this nonsense, Lassiter straps Shawn into a lie detector and grills him on whether or not he’s really psychic. Shawn passes with flying colors. The episode ends with a childhood flashback, in which Henry teaches young Shawn how to beat the machine, telling him it might come in handy some day. In some ways, Henry’s an awful father. In many others, he’s awesome.

Awesome 1980s reference:
For an episode with Star Wars in the title, this episode was awfully short on pop-culture references, Star Wars-themed or otherwise. There was a quick bit in which Shawn started babbling on about diplomatic immunity in an egregious Russian accent, leading Gus to snap, “The guy from Lethal Weapon 2 was not Russian, Shawn!”

Moment of Lassiter-based awesomeness:
(Lassiter straps himself into the lie detector machine to demonstrate to Shawn that he’s telling the cold, solid truth through all this.)
Lassiter: If you don’t treat O’Hara with the respect she deserves, I will discharge my pistol.
Shawn: Are you saying you’ll shoot me?
Lassiter: Repeatedly.

Oh, Lassiter. How I missed you during Psych’s long. lonely hiatus.


Morgan Dodge said…
I kinda loved this episode, but that might just be because it had been so long since I had this sort of comfort-food viewing.

My only real problem with the whole episode? I'm pretty sure I HAD had that Darth Vader action figure back in the day and I had no idea what "double telescoping" means. So I looked it up. You mean my Darth Vader did that? I had no idea! I always just left that little bit sticking out. I didn't know it would telescope in as well! I feel like I missed out on a whole aspect of my childhood because of this. Shattered!

Parenthetically, I LOVE that Voltron short. Very nicely done!
DKoren said…
Malcolm McDowell can do no wrong.

So true!!

Alas, I've never seen an ep of this series, but it sounds intriguing and entertaining. And I'm pretty sure I had that Darth Vader action figure too!
Morgan Richter said…
Boy-Morgan: Yeah, I've been Psych-deprived, so it was awfully nice having it back. "Comfort-food viewing" is the perfect description.

DKoren: Psych is sheer goofy fun, particularly in the way it revels in the stranger byways of pop culture (there's an episode where Gus and Shawn dress up as, respectively, Michael Jackson and Roland Orzabal from Tears For Fears, and they go through the entire episode cheerfully assuming viewers will know exactly who Roland Orzabal is). The plots are never really worth examining too closely -- the show is all about a sort of genial absurdity. If you're in the market for goofy entertainment, you could do worse than take a look at seasons one through five. And it has awesome promos.
Rosey said…
I think this is my second favorite premiere. S2 premiere, American Duos, is my favorite. So glad Psych is back on. Those other two new USA shows they added (and pushed Psych back) were not worth it at all.

I loved when Shawn was naming the people/characters he uses for his British accent LOL

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