Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reaper, "The Favorite": Dad always liked you best!

Quick spoilers for last night's "Reaper" coming up just as soon as I find a glass...

"The Favorite," written by "Reaper" creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, hit on two of its three storylines, deepening the complications of Sam being the Devil's son and having a lot of fun with the idea of human/demon loving. And if the Sock subplot didn't work, it's because Fazekas and Butters have a much higher opinion of the appeal of Ted -- whom I had hoped we were rid of -- than most of us do.

From the moment when Satan told Sam in the season premiere that he had sired hundreds of offspring over the millennia, it seemed inevitable that we would get to meet another one. Guest star Armie Hammer nicely captured how easily a Satan spawn might become a total d-bag, especially if he was spoiled instead of forced to work for everything the way Sam is. And the happier the Devil is, the more fun Ray Wise is to watch, so this was a nice showcase for him.

Rick Gonzalez, meanwhile, had maybe his strongest episode yet, as Ben had to face performance anxiety after realizing he wasn't satisfying Nina. The scene where Ben braced himself to have sex with her in her demon form was really funny, and a reminder that Gonzalez's more low-key style can get laughs just as easily as Tyler Labine's more extroverted antics.

One moment I particularly liked was when Morgan, after meeting Ben and Sock for the first time, tried to figure out what each guy's specialty was -- particularly Ben's long, silent contemplation of whether Sock qualified as the "fighting guy." It served as a commentary about how much these guys are still fumbling along without a real plan, succeeding more by accident than anything else, but also worked as an unintentional meta commentary on how sloppy and yet endearing "Reaper" itself is.

What did everybody else think? And with Sam's (non-Satan) dad looking all blue, is he supposed to be a demon, or a zombie?

27 comments:

dez said...

I think Sam's dad looks like a zombie, so that's my vote.

Who is Marshall, the devil's d-bag son? I thought his name was Morgan?

Anyway, it was a fun ep, especially watching the devil's glee in giving Sam's money to his d-bag son instead, and as you mentioned, Gonzalez had a very strong outing (I liked his conversation with Grace about how to satisfy a demon--he had some great facial expressions in that scene). Still not sure if the devil really wanted Sam to make Morgan a "better" person or if je was just messing with Sam some more, but it was fun to watch.

Marty said...

I enjoyed it. The Ben/Demon story was funny, especially that scene with the booze. The Sock/Andi battle wasn't as funny as the Les Nessman story from last week, though.

I thought they had left his father's storyline up in the air from last season. His mother had dug him up at the end of last season, but they hadn't gone anywhere with it yet this year. I hope it is the start of a strong enough plot arc to help shore up the series. I'm worried this is another of the shows I enjoy that is going the way of Pushing Daisies, though.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I will say it again: Ben has been the MVP of this show since halfway through last season. I need a friend like Ben in my life. The scene where he was offering to have sex with the demon-version of his girlfriend was awesome, but I actually preferred him going to Gladys for advice. What did she call him? A "Hornbanger"?

Anonymous said...

If the giant freezer is any indication, I am gonna wager zombie. My guess is the deal with the devil allowed him to remain alive until a certain point or event, like maybe Sam dying, and then he dies too. But being buried alive killed his body, so he is gonna sleep in the freezer to preserve the flesh.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, it's Morgan (ala Morgan from Chuck), not Marshall (ala Marshall from HIMYM). I'll go fix it.

Eric said...

Was last night the first acknowledgment we've had that there is a God in the Reaper universe? Because Buffy was always extra vague on that side of things, it stands out as an interesting variation in the mythology. I'd especially like it if they went for a Hellblazer-like attitude towards Angels (that to anyone who knows what they're talking about, they're far scarier than demons.)

Jennifer said...

I continue to like Ben's demon girlfriend storyline so much better than Sock and the "sister." So cheers to not going there this week. Ben's sweetness and niceness plays well compared to Sock's...Sockness.

I didn't quite think they'd get rid of Ted for real. Nope, they did not. The Sock/Andi battles continue, with Andi continuing to beat Sock's ass for now. Well, good for her getting a plotline if she's not allowed into the demon stuff (still? why not?).

I loved the casting of Morgan, and the Devil's stewing that his favorite kid just won't get his act together, while Sam the "decent one" brings 'em in every week. GEE, I WONDER WHY. And poor Sam being in line to be "groomed" to take over (though why does the Devil need someone to take over? It's not like he's gonna die), with Morgan being all, "I'll just step over your hard-working body to do it."

I vote with Zombie Dad. He needed a freezer, after all.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Was last night the first acknowledgment we've had that there is a God in the Reaper universe?

The rebel demon arc from the end of last season dealt with God quite a bit, specifically with Michael Ian Black's character getting to return to Heaven and become an angel again.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Gladys called Ben a "Horn Hag." I had to rewind the DVR to make sure I heard correctly after I finished laughing.

I really wish they could use Gladys more, just because I adore Christine Willes. Delores Herbig is probably not coming back, so Gladys is my fix. She just has a great way of playing a scene that the laughs come freely.

Oaktown Girl said...

"Hornbanger" - I like it!

I really enjoyed this episode. Rick Gonzales was outstanding, and Morgan was the perfect "I just want to reach through the TV screen and strangle him" jerk.

This episode also really underscored for me Sam's emotional conflict regarding the Devil, which I think really adds depth to the show. He wants to hate the Devil, and yet he's still clearly hungry for a father figure in his life. And Ray Wise is so perfect at tormenting Sam.

Spike said...

can anyone describe the last scene for me? I watched it this morning and discovered that my recording cut out just after Andi asked Sam to take the freezer. thanks

Michael said...

@Spike:

Sam took the freezer to his house and was going to put it inside but a note on the door from his mom said to put it in the garage. When he got there, he heard a noise and turned on a light, then he saw his dad looking very bluish/grayish/deadish. He recognized his dad, then the episode ended.

Word verification: iness, which is the quality or state of being I.

Tyroc said...

I continue to really love this show. Much like the recently departed "Flight of the Conchords" it always managers to put a smile on my face without seemingly working hard to do so.

spiderpig said...

Ditto to everyone that said they liked the episode because of Ben and Gladys. I love Rick Gonzales. Even in little scenes when he's hiding his private food. Cherry tomatoes, sourdough rolls and peanuts - what on earth can he be hiding? He's just too funny.

I also love Gladys and her "horn hag" comment except it made me think about a nit pick I have which is why does she (not to mention Tony and Steve and the other demons) have horns and Nina does not? And even more nit-picky do demons get to pick their human form? How did Gladys get stuck with frumpy housefrau and Nina gets to be a hot chic?

Did not like Morgan and am not looking forward to meeting any more of the Devil's children. Are they going to turn out to all be "evil" except for Sam? Is that why the Devil has such an interest in Sam because he's trying to get Sam to be evil? If so, wouldn't it have been a better plan to start when Sam was younger and more impressionable?

Elena said...

I was a bit confused, didn't Ben break up with Nina at the end of the last episode? I'm glad she's still around, but they played it like they were just moving right along, that there hadn't been any angst. Although I noticed they separated the Ben/Nina scenes from Sock and Sam.
I was just wondering about Sam's mom, why Sam hadn't seen her since last season--did I miss something? Was he mad about something she kept from him?

And on the Devil and not getting to Sam when he was more impressionable A. he loves a challenge, and B. probably has something to do with the contract Sam's parents signed.

Anonymous said...

The neighbors sanded off their horns; maybe Nina does too? Or maybe she has a tail instead...

Pale Writer said...

They've also talked about God before when the Devil was explaining that he was once in love.

Also, it wasn't "hornbanger"--despite the awesomeness of that name--it was "horn hag" as in the derogatory name given to ladies who are friends with homosexual men.

Evamarie said...

I think this show would be better if Sam quit WHINING. he whines a lot, it's about time he just did it. I like it better when he's trying to rebel against the devil and find a way free of him - he has more backbone then. I'm also glad Andy is getting more forceful and strong. I love this show, but I think the biggest problem is all the characters are, at heart, slackers.
I do think that Morgan is another way the Devil is trying to corrupt Sam - now he's jealous and might WANT the rewards?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Demon Girlfriend's poofy hairdo helps hide her horns. The hair placement seems deliberate.

As for Sam's dad, maybe the deal was so he would remain alive.

maura said...

I loved this episode. I'd be happy to see more of evil d-bag half-brother. I'm not familiar with the actor, but he really pulled off the charisma Morgan had. That's not always the case with a character who's supposed to have charisma. Great casting.

Ben is my favorite character. He's so hapless and sweet. And funny as hell. I hope they keep Nina around. They're hilarious together.

@Elena: Ben and Nina broke up and got back together a few episodes ago; then last week, I think he was going to break up with her, but they worked things out. RE: Sam's mother. We haven't seen or heard mention of her this season, until this episode.

I'm glad they brought Ted back. I was disappointed when I thought he was gone for good. And because I have to say it every week - I hate Sock. But the way he runs cracks me up.

I vote for Sam's dad being a zombie.

dez said...

not Marshall (ala Marshall from HIMYM).

LOL, the first Marshall I thought of was the one from "In Plain Sight" :-)

Back to the ep: I wonder if the devil is thinking of taking vacation time or stepping down, and thus would need a replacement to do his tormenting for him? Or if he's just messing with Sam's head again? It's funny that the King of Temptation is disappointed that his fave son is an irresponsible d-bag. What did he expect with a dad like himself? Hee hee!

Tracey said...

Always fun to see Gladys. We haven't had enough of her this season, and that one episode I recall her in (where Sam asks for an address and uses nepotism) really wasn't Gladys at her best. She was on in this episode.

Love Morgan. Reminds me of the d-bag character Richard Burgi played last season, so much so in fact that I was surprised the devil even pretended to like him. Loved how Morgan was trying to fit Sam's scooby gang into "roles" like some kind of prefab boy band.

And am I the only one who noticed the soul's name? Edmund Fitzgerald! (crickets chirping) Sheesh, am I the only one around here who listens to Gordon Lightfoot??? (yeah, probably)

Ingrid said...

Edmund Fitzgerald, whose last item on the list was a sunken ship. Funny.

Tracey said...

Exactly! Except that it was even more than that: the soul Edmund Fitzgerald made his fortune as a shipping magnate!

Anonymous said...

Definitely not the first time they acknowledged God. At the start of season 1, the Devil's banter was full of snarky comments about his constant rivalry with him.

So was I the only one who loved the Sock/Ted/Andi subplot? I'm enjoying Andi when she gets to kick ass - in a metaphorical sense, I don't think I'd enjoy her hunting demons. I always enjoy Sock waging war with people. And even if I slightly dislike Ted, his part in this was kind of okay. Also, even though I like Andi in charge for the moment, I am glad they leave an option open for Ted to return into that position. Andi was boring as just Sam's "object of desire" damsel-in-distress, but she was also the most skilled rule-breaker of them all, so I'd like the show to revisit this quality of hers at some point in the future.

maura said...

Andi was boring as just Sam's "object of desire" damsel-in-distress, but she was also the most skilled rule-breaker of them all, so I'd like the show to revisit this quality of hers at some point in the future.

Andi's totally that girl in high school who had good grades and was well liked by the teachers, when all the while she was the school's biggest pot dealer. She's a lot smarter than all the guys put together. With that set-up, it shouldn't that hard to write her. So, yeah, I'd like to see more of the brilliant rule breaker she can be. Give her more to do than having to handle Sock's weekly dumbass scheme.

And we have yet another secret between Sam and Andi. This isn't Three's Company. Enough with the misunderstandings and lack of communication.

Anonymous said...

This show has lost it's mojo this season. All the fun and joy are gone.

It feels like the actors know they won't get renewed and are phoning it in. It also feels like there's no planned mythology for the show, like Lost, and the writer's are making it up as they go.

So sad. I loved this show last season. All good things...