7.11 – “Office Space”
Psych has been on for seven seasons now, and like all procedural shows – even the comedies – it ends up being pretty formulaic after a while. For a change of pace, Psych usually resorts to themed episodes to shake off the monotony of “murder is committed, Shawn and Gus investigate, hilarity ensues, and they nab the killer in the last seven minutes.” I’m talking about episodes like “Dual Spires,” an homage to Twin Peaks, “Heeeeere’s Lassie,” which channeled The Shining, and this season’s “Lassie Jerky,” where, for some reason, Psych went full Blair Witch Project for a full episode.
Normally this isn’t a problem. These episodes are interesting enough to stand out but stick to the conventions of other Psych episodes so they are still accessible for those who are unfamiliar with the source material. Yet they do often come off as gimmicky, especially in the case of, say, “Lassie Jerky,” because who our there was really eager for Psych to take a hack at a 15-year-old movie that most people forgot even existed?
With that being said, “Office Space” was a welcome departure from the past handful of episodes not because it utilized familiar pop culture source material, but because it subverted the way that Shawn and Gus usually solve crimes. Because they were potential suspects due to an unfortunate series of crime scene tampering escapades, they were unable to have their normal free range of investigation methods.
Because the past few episodes have dealt directly with the drama between Shawn and Juliet, I was also relieved that their issues have taken a back burner for now, as they have begun to rebuild their relationship. I was glad to see Juliet used in a different way, which is largely made possible by her newfound knowledge about Shawn – not only was she forced to cover for Shawn and Gus because she knew they had been at the crime scene, but the episode also allowed for her to be more impressed than usual by Shawn’s detective work. Before, she was operating under the impression that psychic visions simply gave him the answers (or at least stepping stones to reach more answers). But now that she knows he’s not really psychic, she sees that he’s actually a very gifted detective.
The episode also allowed Gus to come to the forefront. His fake surprise when he and Shawn arrive at the crime scene in the morning was just perfect, and the look on his face when he and Shawn woke Henry up in the middle of the night was hysterical. He often ends up underwritten because he’s Shawn’s psychic, but Dulé Hill crushes just about every scene he gets to do, so I always enjoy a Gus-centered episode.
If you told me before this episode ran that I would enjoy watching a tv show guest starring David Koechner, best known as the annoying Todd Packer on The Office, the annoying Champ Kind in Anchorman, and star of The Comebacks (just kidding, no one has ever seen that movie), I would have slapped you in the face with a beef steak. The episode also featured guest star Mike McGlone, the guy from the GEICO rhetorical question commercials. As I type this, I realize that not only does GEICO have, like, eight character spokespeople, but they have TWO different spokespeople/spokesgroups that ask rhetorical questions (him and the banjo guys).
Koechner wasn’t as over-the-top as usual; he played the surprisingly adept if not scorned Leslie Valerie Sally, head security guard at Central Coast Pharmaceuticals (where Gus apparently still works, which was fuel for an ongoing gag revealing that the other characters also thought he’d quit long ago). McGlone was pretty much exactly what I expected playing the overemoting businessman type, but he actually fit the role perfectly. Now that I’ve admitted that, I don’t know what to do with myself.
Ben Wachtel likes baseball, the Boston Celtics, pancakes, tacos, and swam collegiately at Purdue University. You can follow him on Twitter at @benwachtel24.