What happens when faux psychic detective Shawn Spencer is busted for having lied to the Santa Barbara Police for eight years? That’s a good question. Unfortunately, the series finale of Psych doesn’t tell us.
“The Break Up” was as satisfying of an ending as possible given the lackluster season. There was a surprise cameo and some memorable throwback lines (“Have you heard about Pluto? That’s messed up, right?”). For those of us who have stayed around for eight years, that was an adequate thank you.
This final case really isn’t that exciting and depended on the lead characters’ eccentricities to keep us engaged. Shawn struggles to find the right way to tell Gus, his partner and best friend, that he is moving to San Francisco to be with his girlfriend Juliet. While Shawn does encounter the SBPD’s newest head detective Betsy Brannigan (Mira Sorvino), who beats him to each deduction, it would have been nice to have more time to see this competition blossom. Psych’s biggest weakness has always been that it rarely gave Shawn a worthy adversary.
The episode’s hook is that Shawn occasionally talks directly to the camera—he’s recording a goodbye DVD for his father, Chief Carton Lassiter, and, most importantly, for Gus. Meanwhile, Gus has finally secured the “job of his dreams” at a pharmaceutical giant that comes with a kitchen fully stocked with snacks, a luxury company car and, most importantly, a “hot” girl that loves reggae, jerk chicken and re-reads Harry Potter to “keep herself centered.” It’s not until Shawn moves to San Francisco, says goodbye via DVD, and the hot girl at work pepper sprays him after he confesses his love to her that Gus realizes (a) the film We Bought a Zoo lied and (b) that nothing is as fulfilling as working with Shawn.
So Gus follows Shawn to San Francisco.
The second half of the episode dove into the mandated 30 minutes of retrospection necessary for any series finale. Characters watched Shawn’s goodbye DVD, including Detective Dobson. And here’s the big reveal: he’s Val Kilmer! Ending one of the show’s longest-running gags with the guy that’s been mentioned so often on the show couldn’t have been better.
But it’s Lassiter watching Shawn’s goodbye that really means something.
“I am proud, honoured and baffled to call you my friend. But it’s true. It’s also true that you might be the only other person on the planet that loves Jules just as much as I do. Even though it’s different. You’ve always had her back, and for that I feel that I owe you more than the others. So, time to come clean regarding my methods and the way that I solve cases. You’re the only one that’s ever suspected that uh…the truth is I am not…”
Before Shawn finishes his recorded message, Lassiter ejects the DVD, snaps it in half, and tosses it in the trash. Carlton Lassiter has changed in the last eight years—not only is he happily married and with a baby daughter, but he’s gone from trying to prove Shawn was a fraud to respecting his work.
Psych fans are also treated to a scene they’ve been waiting for since the show’s second episode “Spellingg Bee.” Shawn proposed to Juliet. The moment was well-earned (The Newsroom should take note), and, true to form, was short lived. A thief interrupted the touching proposal and stole the ring right as Juliet agreed to “marry the heck out” of Shawn. The show ended with Shawn and Gus, with Juliet in tow, jumping into a car with two steering wheels and speeding after the thief as Oingo Bingo’s “We Close Our Eyes.”
Sentimentality aside, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the finale. And the final season, for that matter, never really felt like it was going anywhere. That is, until the final scene and Gus’s best monologue. It’s clear that by the end of Psych’s run, the spark that had ignited episodes such as “Dual Spires” (a Twin Peaks tribute) and “Mr. Yang Presents…” (a Hitchcock tribute) had slowly burnt out.
Psych was a show always keenly aware of its spot in the pop culture universe. It paid tribute to the greats that came before it, all while laughing at itself and chronicling a legendary friendship. Along the way, it defined a network for many years. It’s tough to say goodbye to the show, but maybe we won’t have to. USA Network’s president has hinted that there may be a movie or special in the works, and perhaps a crossover with Monk (did you catch the quick allusion to the OCD detective at the end?)
Now that Psych is over it’s finally time to catch up on The Mentalist (said the liar!).