USA’s Psych [Wednesday, 10/9C] has its summer finale tonight and it’s a bit different. One, Maybe Two, Ways Out finds Shawn and Gus drafted to help Nadia, a real, honest-to-goodness spy, find the one man who can erase her existence from all known databases. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that – especially considering the black ops helicopter full of shooters.
One of Psych’s best tricks is finding ways to balance the goofiness of Shawn’s [James Roday] psychic posturings and generally self-involved meanderings with whatever dramatic elements are introduced through the mystery of week. It helps to have a straight man like Gus [Dule´ Hill], who can add unexpected laughs as well – or Timothy Omundsen’s Detective Lassiter, who can be the butt of the joke while remaining perfectly straight.
In the past, the show has managed its balancing act best when dealing with more serious threats, like Mr. Yin – or with lighter overall episodes – as when John Cena appeared as Junior Detective Juliet O’Hara’s [Maggie Lawson] brother.
In One, Maybe Two, Ways Out, Shawn and Gus are approached by Nadia [Franke Potente, Run, Lola, Run; The Bourne Supremacy] to help her find Stravinsky [Jon Gries, The Pretender, Lost, Elsewhere], a legendary agent who took himself off the grid – erased himself, in effect. She hopes he can do the same for her – but before the three can even do anything, a black ops helicopter appears and shots are fired.
From that moment, the pace is hectic and the challenges intriguing. Is Nadia playing Shawn? Is Juliet really in love with Declan [Nestor Carbonell]? Has Agent Driggs [C. Thomas Howell] framed Nadia? Why does Agent Fong wear two watches?
For the most part, the episode is dramatic – moments between Shawn and Gus aside – which is why, when Shawn pulls his psychic tics out of the bag in the middle of otherwise straightforward scenes, it feels forced. On the plus side, though, the ep is filled with references to spy movies [though the ep title is both the sharpest and most obvious] and that adds a certain level of enjoyment to the proceedings.
Watch, too, for a couple of scenes involving Shawn and Juliet [not necessarily onscreen together] that have a genuine emotional impact – especially in light of her evolving relationship with Declan. And be prepared for a cliffhanger that’s more of a key emotional beat than anything else.
Overall, though, One, Maybe Two, Ways Out is not the best example of the levels that Psych can reach when it’s firing on all cylinders. It’s fun, but not as much as it could have been.
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Photo by Alan Zenuk; courtesy of USA Network