Spoilers for the second episode of "Reaper" coming up just as soon as I ask Thomas Wilson if that was real manure...
Last week, I noted that the CW had only sent out the "Reaper" pilot, and that I had no idea whether they could execute the show that well on a weekly basis. Based on episode two, I was right to worry. This wasn't an "I'm out" level misfire, or even necessarily a bad episode. What it was, though, was a thorough rehash of the pilot, but with most of the energy sucked out -- and not by the lightning-hurling bad guy.
As with last night's second "Chuck," there were a lot of repeated beats from the pilot -- Sam again shirks his responsibilities to Satan for a large chunk of the episode so that the plot doesn't have to begin until the halfway point, for instance -- and even, oddly, several moments that seemed to be in direct violation of the pilot. Sam seemed to not only be at peace with the bounty hunting gig, but actually embracing the fact that he was good at something for once in his life, and here he was back to being too afraid that he couldn't get the job done. And after portraying Sam's mom as borderline catatonic until Sam relieved her of the horrible guilt she felt about selling his soul, episode two has her be totally cool with the news that he's still Satan's underling. Even Satan suggesting that Sam shouldn't try to look for patterns in the escapees' behavior based on who they were as mortals contradicted things said last week, though it turned out that Sam was again right to look for motivation in Ferrey's past life.
It's almost as if the creators had some regrets about things they had put into the pilot script -- Sam adjusting to his new lot in life in only one episode doesn't give the character a lot of room for growth, after all -- but weren't allowed to reshoot anything in the pilot save for the Nikki Reed/Missi Peregrym shift. Whatever the reason, it was awkward.
Worse, though, is that the show has already settled into a formula by episode two, and what was so fresh and amusing the first time -- say, Sam and Sock getting suited up in some ridiculous gear from The Work Bench -- already feels obligatory. Ben's "We're gonna die dressed as condoms!" was funny, but what are they gonna wear next week? Gas masks? Beekeeper suits? Fiber insulation?
Even the Devil wasn't particularly funny this week, save the gag at the end with the shopping cart -- the only time in the whole hour where someone apparently let Ray Wise flash that amazing smile of his.
Maybe Kevin Smith really was the X factor that made the pilot so cool. Maybe it's a more limited concept than it seemed at first. Or maybe the production team took a minor stumble as they settled into life up in Vancouver. We'll see.
What did everybody else think?