The mid-season finale of Psych [Wednesday, USA, 10/9C] begins with an e-mail alerting Shawn and Gus to a ‘cinnamon festival’ in the small [so small it’s in parentheses on the computer map they check] town of Dual Spires. The guys immediately set off [they do love their cinnamon] – and find themselves in the strangest little town they’ve ever visited. Then, a plastic-wrapped dead girl turns up. The dead girl is Paula Merral, niece of the owners of The Sawmill Café – and we cut to the opening credits and… Julee Cruise singing an Angelo Badalamenti-like arrangement of the Psych theme.
Needless to say, Shawn [James Roday] and Gus [Dule´ Hill] soon find themselves up to their necks in murder – and, fuelled by cinnamon pie to die for, and ‘the best damn hot apple cider west of the Mississippi,’ they put their unique skills to work.
It’s not as easy as back home, though, because Dual Spires has no cell phone reception [except for… well, you’ll have to see it to believe it!], and no internet [‘it just seemed simpler that way’]. Then there are the townsfolk – Paula’s uncle and aunt, Robert and Michelle Barker [Dana Ashbrook and Robyn Lively], the local sheriff, Andy Johnson [Lenny Von Dohlen] and his son, enigmatic cougar librarian, Maudette Hornsby [Sherilyn Fenn] and local renaissance woman, Dr. Donna Gooden [Sheryl Lee], the town’s doctor/veterinarian/psychologist/lawyer/accountant – as unusual a collection as any we’ve seen since David Lynch took television by storm with Twin Peaks.
One of the more unlikely aspects of Dual Spires [the episode] is that not all of the Twin Peaks references are actually in the town of Dual Spires. One of the best comes in a priceless moment at the police station. Another, a definite reference to Agent Dale Cooper, comes in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment with Lassiter [Timothy Omundson] in The Sawmill.
The script, by Bill Callahan and James Roday, is littered with all sorts of Twin Peaks-ian references from the name of the town to – but that would be telling! Somehow, the two have put together a reasonably challenging mystery while maintaining both the ingenious oddness of Twin Peaks and the off-the-wall goofy charm of Psych. In a masterpiece of ingenuity, they even find a way to use Ray Wise – in his Psych role as Father Westley.
Credit also must be given to director Matt Shakman, who finds a pace that balances the stately, if weird, grace of Twin Peaks with the more manic pace of Psych. Even the music cues are the Badalamenti versions of Psych’s themes. Bravo Adam Cohen and John Robert Wood!
What really stands out about this ep of Psych, though, is that it only has one burst of sustained, pure silliness and that comes in the tag and over the closing credits. In that sequence, though, every reference that hasn’t been included in the actual episode is unleashed – in a very Lynchian manner and at a very Twin Peaks-ian pace.
Dual Spires is definitely the best ep of Psych this season – and one the show’s best eps, ever.
Final Grade: A