Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reaper, "No Reaper Left Behind": To Hell and back?

Spoilers for last night's "Reaper" coming up just as soon as I steam some spinach...
"You are an ass!" -Sally
"I am the dark lord of asses!" -The Devil
"No Reaper Left Behind" was the best episode of the season, by a long stretch. Now, when you're dealing with a show as congenitally sloppy and yet likable as "Reaper," that can seem like damning with faint praise, but this one doesn't feel like it needed to be graded on a curve.

Ray Wise as on fire as the lovestruck, stalking, completely arrogant Devil, prattling on about his "deep commitment to self-love" and knowing that Sam would be honorable enough to fess up about who really bought the steamer.

Just as funny were both Rick Gonzalez and Tyler Labine in the Ben/Sock/Nina subplot, both in their attempts to act normal while Nina was ripping apart Ben's car to the sounds of Cher's "Believe," and especially in the scene where a contrite Nina came to the Work Bench, with Ben unable to not stare at her with a goofy grin through the window, and Sock literally typing "OMG" on the keyboard while he said it to Nina. Those two make a fine comedy team, and if "Reaper" is already doomed, I hope Gonzalez can wind up on Labine's new show.

Meanwhile, a proactive Sam is a more interesting Sam (just as the "Chuck" writers discovered about Chuck) and the idea of Sam's dad going to Hell to find Alan was a great dramatic beat for a show that usually doesn't know how to handle serious emotion.

Four episodes left, possibly ever. I hope they have more ones like this coming up.

What did everybody else think?

18 comments:

Oaktown Girl said...

Do you perhaps mean Ben was unable to "not" stare at her through the window? Anyway, that was a really enjoyable scene. Ben was so cute and clearly still so lovestruck with Nina. And it was really easy to cheer for Nina there, too. Hell, even Soc wasn't overused and irritating in this one.

Yes, this episode was definitely a cut above, and I'll be really bummed if the show does not come back, especially if it stays this good - or near this good, consistently. And what the hell better in the pipeline does the the CW think it has anyway?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, that's what I meant. Typo.

Henry said...

I just loved how Sock and Ben keep bobbing and weaving and dodging Nina's tail as they're rocking out to the tunes! Comedy...

orangecrush said...

I really enjoy this show. I am glad you decided to add the post today Alan. Soc and Ben had my wife and I rolling during the car scene. If they do decide to not pick up Reaper, I hope they give us a proper finale.

FlopEJoe said...

Great show! Even when you can pretty much figure out how it's going to go down, it's still satisfying. I'm expecting the worst (canceled) but hope for the best.

drake lelane said...

Lately, I've just had a hard time getting over the repeated plot hole of how dumb Sam is in regards to the Devil's near-omnipotence. I know it's a comedy and all, but towards the end of last season, it was established Sam knew the Devil could hear him (thanks to Steve and Tony) and he would at least draw a circle on the ground whenever he'd plot against the dark lord (of asses).

I wonder if his dominion covers text messages as well, and what kind of cell plan does Sam's dad have, anyway? That's some serious coverage.

HarrySTruman2 said...

.. i'm also afraid they won't get a proper finale.. like Veronica Mars they might forever leave us hanging.

Tyroc said...

Written and directed by Tom Spezialy.

And it shows.

Wow!

linda said...

I couldn't stop laughing at the start when they showed Ben and Sock doing their "exercises" on the lawn outside.

I hope we do get closure on the show though, given their (non) chances of a renewal.

Hatfield said...

Completely off-topic, but as the resident NCIS junkie here I was curious if you watched last night's first part of the spin-off. Now I see by your Twitter sidebar that you did/are. I won't comment in case you haven't finished, but will there be any write-up or article for those of us who don't Tweet?

Edward Copeland said...

Last night's was the season's highlight. I do wish they'd stay on a trajectory with a point and give Ray Wise material as great as this. I did wonder how Sam had an extra vessel lying around. Did he take it to Gladys? Sam's forgetting and not asking question does bother me. I'm still waiting for him to ask the Devil why it's so easy for souls to escape Hell anyway. You would think if these nobodies could figure out, time's real baddies such as Hitler would have no problem. Where did this new older Work Bench employee who fought with Ted come from? I'm not hopeful they'll be smart enough to bring it back, but come on -- it's the CW --what the hell else are they going to put on? Give the show some support.

Elena said...

I thought it was very much better than episodes where Sam is all downcast and hopeless. Him occasionally getting fired up is a good thing. Beyond what folks have already expressed here, I enjoyed Sam trying his hand at seduction and laughed when Andi wasn't upset at his plans because Sam was "no seducer", rather a puppy who had followed her around for years.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I did wonder how Sam had an extra vessel lying around.

He bought it from one of Gladys' demon buddies in season one's "Greg, Schmeg" (click the link to see a photo) but never got around to using it.

Where did this new older Work Bench employee who fought with Ted come from?

Andi welcomed him to the Bench last week.

dez said...

Ray Wise has been nailing it this season. I especially liked him in that blue tie last night--brings out his devilish eyes, heh.

BigTed said...

Good stuff, especially the interplay with Ray Wise. But this show really does suffer from the common supernatural-plot fault where there are never any rules about just how powerful the bad guy is. In every episode, you know the devil will show up at exactly the wrong moment and ruin whatever plans Sam has in mind. So it's fun to watch, but the plots go nowhere. (Could Sam eventually escape his bonds with a "Devil Went Down to Georgia"-style contest? Maybe yes, maybe no... at that point, it would just be the writers' whim.)

Tracey said...

I was a little bit disappointed by this episode, but mostly because I overthought it. I anticipated plot twists that weren't there, and when it turned out to be more straightforward than I imagined, I felt a bit let-down. I may have to rewatch it from beginning to end, so I can appreciate it on its own merits.

I thought the devil was plotting with Sallyto corrupt Sam, getting Sam to seduce Sally or maybe even killing her (notice that the "vessel" looked like a plain old ordinary gun; what if she was a person instead of a soul?) When it turned out that she was just a teacher soul that the devil was interested in and the devil was jealous... I was disappointed.

I thought the demon that was attacking Ben and Sock was *not* Nina, and they were ignoring a more serious threat because they thought it was just Nina. But when it was just Nina, and Ben and Nina wanted to get back together... um, OK, that's good too.

@Edward: As Alan pointed out, that's the same vessel he got last season to deal with the serial killer alter-ego of his romantic rival, Greg. It's nice that the series remembers its previous episodes. Many don't.

@Hatfield: See this post: http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/2009/03/six-simple-rules-for-commenting-on-my.html. Specifically, Rule #3.

@Alan: you might want to put that Six Rules post in your list of recommended reading!

ReaperDMV said...

Sam did use the Nerf gun vessel last season. He tried to use it on Greg, but ended up sending a forklift to Hell instead.

Reaper fans! Tell the CW you want the show to continue! There's not much time left, May upfronts are only a few short weeks away. Snail and email addresses, petitions, etc., are organized here: http://community.livejournal.com/reaperdmv/37449.html

catko said...

Loved this episode, Sam's expression when sending his Dad to Hell was classic and heartbreaking. This show is on the upswing and I have to believe we can get it renewed--if not on the CW, can it get shopped to another network?