“Psych” kicked off season 8, on Wednesday night, with the return of an old friend, Despereaux (Cary Elwes), in the episode titled “Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire.” Think it’s the longest episode title for series creator Steve Franks? Think again. Ironically, the only episode to ever have a longer title was “Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger,” another Despereaux episode. These longer titles always work for the series, capturing the sporadic thoughts of the main character, Shawn Spencer.
While Gus is leaving Santa Barbara to attend a Potter-Con convention in England, Shawn decides to tag along, after Interpol seeks his services. Comedy immediately ensues, with Shawn and Gus arguing over the reception of the Interpol call. Gus fondly remembers himself taking the call, dressed in a spiffy white suit, no doubt concealing his playa phone. We’re also introduced to an interesting editing technique in these call sequences, with each main character’s picture and a brief description being flashed on the screen. Perhaps the funniest characterization is of Queen Elizabeth, describing her as a QILF. Need I say more? Just let that one sink in.
Once the best friends make it to England, they reunite with Despereaux, who they must refer to as Royston Staley. Staley works as a deputy director for Interpol, and explains to Shawn and Gus he worked for the agency all along, pulling off heists to catch the real criminals. Gus isn’t buying it, but Shawn chooses to believe the man he’s always admired, criminal or not. Staley asks Shawn to go undercover, as a getaway driver he resembles. Of course, Shawn says the two look nothing alike, with the real criminal having hair “spun by a fabulous spider.”
When Shawn eventually goes undercover, Gus is quickly distracted, thinking he spots Rupert Grint of the Harry Potter franchise. It isn’t the first time Gus is sidetracked during the episode, finding himself searching for food, causing Shawn to call him an animal. We all know Gus is a fan of delicious flavor, and England was the perfect venue for him to be in search of meat pies and yes, spotted dick. During Shawn’s undercover sting, we are introduced to two other members of the team, Dierdre and ‘Arry, along with Ronnie Ives, the crime boss Staley is intent on taking down. Ives informs Shawn they need another member for their team. Cue Gus walking by a window.
The friends get into one of their worst arguments yet, with yes and no’s being thrown around more than their “suck it” catchphrase. Gus finally agrees, and the two have to prove themselves worthy of the heist. Shawn showcases some impressive driving skills, while Staley has to sneak in and prove Gus’ skills as “The Wizard.” Before taking part in the official heist, Shawn gives Lassiter a call, asking him to verify the identity of Staley. Since Lassiter has been demoted, thanks to the new Chief Trout, he’s happy to help Spencer, for once. It only takes Carlton a few seconds to confirm Staley isn’t found in the database, leaving Shawn to announce Despereaux is playing them again.
After a few wrong turns, and being caught with Ives’ key card, Shawn and Gus are finally set on the heist. They are soon joined by Staley, ‘Arry’s replacement, after he is discovered to be in procession of Ives’ key card, which he demanded from Shawn when he caught him with it. Another explosion ensues, and Shawn puts the pieces of the puzzle together a little too late. He and Gus find royal Calvin Dorchester killed in the home they break into, and Shawn realizes Ives is actually related to Dorchester. His mission was to seek revenge on the man who left his father and family penniless. Ives enters with Dierdre, and is intent on killing Shawn and Gus.
Gus spots Staley, sneaking out of the house with a bag of stolen goods, and fears their old friend is leaving them to be a casualty in Ives’ plan. We all know Despereaux would never abandon them, and he soon arrives to save the day. Shawn and Gus are again convinced Despereaux is indeed Royston Staley, when his supposed Interpol boss, Stuyvesant, shows up. It isn’t until the guys are enjoying a beer that they spot the Stuyvesant, dressed as a homeless man. Gus proclaims Despereaux played them again, but Shawn chooses to believe the Interpol boss is simply undercover. It was a nice ending, because it left the viewer open to interpretation. However, I think we all know Despereaux is the real deal. His alter ego, Staley, can suck it.
I believe this was a strong episode to begin season 8, because it focused on another of Shawn and Gus’ adventures, with just the two of them. Lassiter did make a quick appearance, which was nice to show the two hadn’t cutoff all ties to Santa Barbara. Juliet’s absence, however, should have been handled differently. It was a bit odd for Shawn to not even mention her name while he’s in another country. She is his girlfriend, after all, and he could have made a phone call to her, something to reinforce he’s actually in a relationship. However, this was the first of five episodes without Maggie Lawson this season, due to contractual obligations with ABC’s “Back in the Game,” in which she starred as a single mom and youth baseball coach. It will be interesting to see how her absence is handled throughout the rest of the season, no doubt being a good storyline for Shules fans, as they affectionately call themselves.
My major criticism is this episode was completely devoid of the show’s premise, Shawn being a detective with supposed psychic intuition. Yes, Spencer wasn’t in Santa Barbara taking a traditional case, but with Franks choosing to completely omit him from getting any fake vibes or sensing something, it changed who the character is. Sure, his general observational skills were in full force, but I think Franks missed the mark here. If Despereaux wouldn’t have been a part of this episode, to reference previous cases, “Lock, Stock” could have stood alone as an entirely different show. Granted, I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t true to the original concept of “Psych.” Shawn doesn’t simply claim to be a good observationist. He’s always presented himself as a psychic, first.
“Psych” will be back next Wednesday with “S.E.I.Z.E. the Day” at 9/8c. If you have a Twitter account, be sure to congratulate the cast and crew on their People’s Choice win for favorite cable TV comedy. After eight years, the award is well overdue for the stellar cast and everyone behind the scenes. I’m sure all you Psych-O’s know that’s right.
– In the premiere episode, fans were treated with classic Psych lines: “You must be out of your damn mind,” “suck it,” “c’mon son,” “Pluto,” and a “Gus don’t be” reference.
– We learn of the new condition E.D., Explosives Dysfunction.
– Gus proclaims he is “too pretty to get locked up in the tower of London.”
– New meaning is given to the old “fool me once” adage. “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.”
– Finally, dingle berry…Dumbledore…Shawn has heard it both ways.