Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reaper, "The Leak": Sam of son?

Belated "Reaper" spoilers coming up just as soon as I get a black eye...

I'm glad I got to watch this episode after the CW upfront (where "Reaper" got a pick-up for mid-season), because I no longer have to lament the idea that the producers figured things out just before they got canceled. If anything, this recent run of episodes is evidence for why the CW granted a renewal in spite of lousy ratings. This was yet another fun episode that managed to tell an interesting standalone story (it helps that Richard Burgi has had a lot of practice of late playing lecherous d-bags) while at the same time moving along the arcs (demon rebellion, Ben's marriage) and better incorporating the supporting characters who work (Gladys, who dies almost as hard as John McClane).

Now, I have to think Fazekas, Butters and company worried about cancellation when they were writing these, so in addition to showing CW execs how much better the show could be, they've started throwing out ideas that, under better ratings circumstances, they might have held for later. So now Andi's part of the Scooby Gang (though I would argue that should have come even sooner than it did), and with this week's episode, the show gets overt with the question of whether Sam is the son of Satan. (Not to be confused with this guy.)

But because they're addressing that issue this early in the run, I have to wonder if that will really be the answer, or if all the hints that have been dropped were just a feint for some other explanation of the Devil's fondness for Sam. If Sam's not Satan's kid, why does Old Scratch like him so much?

I do want to repeat last week's complaint about Andi. I'm glad she's in on the secret and part of the group, but the writers still don't know what to do with her. I want to see her be more inquisitive about how all this stuff works, or to have some other kind of recognizable personality trait. The running gag about Sock trying to trick her into dressing up at least gave her a bit of business to play, but in the end it was just another riff on the fact that Missi Peregrym is hot, you know?

What did everybody else think? And do you think the death promised in the promos will be Ken Marino, or perhaps Josie, who was slightly less redundant than usual this week?

9 comments:

Mo Ryan said...

Boy, speaking of killing things off, I'm glad they got rid of Lucy Davis' character. Thank God. What an annoying sub plot. Did it add anything plotwise to the show, aside from the possibility of Ben facing jail time? That's all I gleaned, having fast forwarded thru every scene with Davis.

Other than that, a solid episode. I'm sure the network will pressure them to keep the stories standalone, but every time they focus on recurring characters or overall mythology or the demon rebellion, etc, the show is far better. I did enjoy Burgi quite a bit though.

That First Andrew said...

I haven't minded the Ben/Licy Davis subplot as much as many. While it didn't provide much in terms of laughs, it was nice to put the focus on Ben, who is consistently the unsung hero of the show, and provided a sub-plot that wasn't about Sam and Andi. Besides that, it was a nice parallel to Sam's contractual relationship with the Devil. Hopefully there will be some payoff to Ben's 8 days in jail and the loss of his Formula-1 racing school fund.

Plus, it gave us Sock punching Ben in the face as a going away present, which might have been the funniest moment on the show since Curtis Armstrong wanted the guys to get ripped on Peyote with him.

We finally got payoff to Sam's dad burning a page of the contract. What is left to come into play? Sam still has the evil-seeing glasses and the Nerf-vessel from the Greg episode. Anything I am foretting? Will either/both come into play in the finale?

Glad it is coming back. THe writers have hit a pretty good stride on the back nine.

Steven said...

An absolutely fine show, though I'm really starting to feel like Fazekas and Butters are getting hamstrung by the gimmicky vessels (in the same way they got hamstrung by the gimmicky costumes in the first few episodes). The hollow drama those vessels create is really sort of lame; did anyone ever think Sam was ever going to be in real danger from the soul of the week, even if he was the best soul the show has had since Patton Oswalt?

Steven said...

Also, the Heathcliff vs. Garfield debate really underscored how much funnier and palatable Gonzalez is than Labine.

Steve Ely said...

Regarding that last comment, I generally find Labine just as palatable as Gonzalez, and I just don't buy Sock speaking out for Garfield. Garfield is way too lame for Sock to dig. The only reason the universe gave us Garfield the cat was to take him away again and leave us with the genius that is Garfield Minus Garfield.

Kristin said...

I am one who LOVES Labine's character, Sock, and how he delivers his lines every week. But I was glad to see Ben have a storyline all his own. I thought Lucy Davis was an interesting addition, but she was a little tacked on from nowhere....a little more build up to Ben feeling sorry for her would have been nice.

One plot line that hasn't been brought up in a long while is the fact that Andi's father is dead. Doesn't anyone else wonder if he will show up as a demon or something that Sam has to chase down next season? Somehow they will run into him. You don't bring up the fact that a person is dead on this show without expecting him to appear at some point.

And will the ex-girlfriend ever be coming back? When did Sam officially break it off with her? I didn't think he ever did. Didn't he say something a few weeks about about not wanting to do it over the phone? Or am I forgetting something?

Tracey said...

One little nit that's been driving me crazy: why didn't Tony recognize Gladys, the DMV demon, when they were burying her? Didn't the demon couple say in a previous episode that they play squash with her, and she told them about Sam? But maybe that was just Steve and Tony didn't know her... must check my recording when I get a chance...

I have to admit, when they so casually, so easily, threw out the idea that Sam was the devil's son... for the first time, I started to doubt it! They're so good at throwing unexpected twists at you that it seemed to easy. But we'll see what they do with it. I'm really looking forward to the season finale.

A thought about the Sam/Sock/Ben interaction: I remember reading many years ago that one of the things that made Star Trek work was the interaction between Kirk, Spock and McCoy: that Spock was so logical and McCoy was so emotional, and they acted like the angel and devil on Kirk's shoulders, pushing him in different directions. The show wouldn't be the same without both of them. Sometimes I see Sock and Ben that way: that Sock is so wild, and Ben is so calm and stable, and they pull Sam back and forth. It wouldn't work without both of them; it's a great dynamic.

Tracey said...

Oh: and it crossed my mind that the one who is going to die might be one of Sam's parents. Important enough to Sam to make a a big emotional impression, but not important enough to the series that they couldn't be lost.

Tracey said...

Checked my recording: it's Steve who says "You're a reaper. I play raquetball with Gladys. She told me." (emphasis mine) So I guess it was only Steve, not Tony, who knows Gladys.