Psych 7.14 – “No Trout About It”
The post-episode teaser last week promised a big shake-up during this week’s season seven finale, and for a while it seemed like an intentional false alarm – basically a cheap way to make the episode seem more interesting than it was. Anthony Michael Hall guest starred, leaving Emilio Estevez as the only member of The Breakfast Club that hasn’t been on Psych. I think most people are probably more excited about that than I am.
The structure of “No Trout About It” was a departure from the way most episodes function, as much of the story was made up of flashbacks. It reminded me of a House episode called “Three Stories,” which won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 2006. Both shows are procedurals, and both episodes involve the recounting of recent cases and conclude with the main character realizing, through telling his story, the solution to the case.
The issue with “No Trout About It,” as compared to “Three Stories,” is that there is little backbone in terms of high stakes or dramatic tension. We are certainly supposed to feel like Shawn’s feet are against the coals, but the major conflicts on this show are always to artificial that I never feel like the characters are in any real danger. They’ve been getting away with their unique way of solving crimes for seven years, so to suggest that suddenly this is an issue is unbelievable.
I did like the way they made light of this, though. I feel as if acknowledging that over 100 murders have been committed in Santa Barbara since Shawn and Gus have been working as detectives lets us in on the joke – by admitting how unrealistic the show is (and that it’s not really trying to be realistic, or even realistic by television standards). Having a consultant come in and reveal inefficiency and inappropriate behavior is as cliché as the detectives ignoring his decision and going to arrest the murderer anyway. Calling attention to this in a humorous way doesn’t make it okay, but it does help. It’s unoriginal and doesn’t effectively cultivate dramatic tension, but it’s better to admit that it’s all a bit silly because that’s the heart of Psych.
Lassiter and Juliet stand up to Trout, and it’s kitschy and overly sentimental and drips with the elements of a college kid’s short story in a creative writing course. It’s bad. Then Shawn and Gus behave in a silly manner and that makes it sort of okay.
I have a hard time worrying about Chief Vick’s six month suspension because she’s only in, like, every third episode anyway. Besides, Psych comes back for a special two-hour musical episode in December, which is six months from now, meaning she’ll probably be back for that episode. I didn’t really have a profound reaction to this episode, which I don’t think is ideal for a season finale. It kind of seems like Psych is running out of gas down the home stretch.
As for Psych’s legacy, I’m not really sure where it stands. I don’t know that it will stand out in the pantheon of all-time television comedies, but it will always be special to me. I think the way it’s both evolved and stayed the same is pretty amazing, and while this episode was sort of a flop in the sense that it didn’t really create suspense or any memorable or significant developments in terms of the characters’ lives, it’s clear to me that every single one of the main characters on this show is a different person from who they were when the show began. And I think they got to where they are in a very honest, realistically gradual way. It’s overly cartoonish at times, but this is mostly by design, and even for a show as silly as Psych, even for a show where the actors often overdo it in serious situations, I can’t help but take a moment to admire 2013 Psych as compared to 2006 Psych.
But not right now. Now it’s time for snow cones.
Ben Wachtel likes baseball, the Boston Celtics, pancakes, tacos, and swam collegiately at Purdue University. You can follow him on Twitter at @benwachtel24.