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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Psych plays at Indiana Jones in mid-season premiere

USA's Psych resumes its sixth season with the episode "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger." Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dulé Hill) fail to safeguard the art they are tasked with protecting. To get it back, Shawn calls old friend and art thief Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes) in to help. Despereaux has a break in his trial, and so accepts. But during the case, Despereaux is blown up by the real crook (Mädchen Amick, Damages, Californication). Can Shawn and Gus finish solving the mystery by themselves? And will Shawn ever learn to deal with death? 

Psych is a comedy series, and thus, Despereaux's death is unexpected. When Shawn hangs onto the notion that Despereaux somehow fakes his demise, it's easy to believe him. Until Henry (Corbin Bernsen) presents Shawn with a positive DNA match. Of course, Despereaux really is alive, but kudos to Psych for creating such a wonderfully played fake out.

The tale of Despereaux's death is meaningful because it address how Shawn cannot deal with losing anyone. In flashback, viewers see this begins with pets in Shawn's childhood. In the present day, he has a very difficult time accepting grief. It's a character element not played up until this episode, and an interesting one. It can be extrapolated that much of Shawn's cavalier attitude springs from his resistance to real emotion, and is a coping mechanism to avoid pain. Faced with the possibility that Despereaux is actually dead, Shawn flounders.

Psych is big on referencing pop culture in its episodes, and "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger" continues that proud tradition. Obviously, the big reference here is to Indiana Jones. Some famous scenes and props are recreated, at least partially, in the episode. Also, the great John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Sliders), who plays Sallah in two of the Indiana Jones films, guest stars this week in Psych as a museum curator.

The only real complaint to be had with the latest Psych adventure is that it, once again, skirts around the larger character arcs. There is a short scene at the beginning of the episode in which Gus confronts Shawn about an engagement ring. Shawn deflects, per usual, and while Gus seems annoyed at the time, he doesn't bring it up for the rest of the hour. Fans want to know the meaning of the ring! Does Shawn intend to propose to Juliet (Maggie Lawson)? Is he discouraged because she isn't ready yet? Sure, cases of the week can be fun, but for goodness sakes, get to the meat of the character relations more than twice a season, Psych!

A more minor gripe is Lassiter's (Timothy Omundson) utter disregard for Shawn's feelings at losing his friend, Despereaux. Sure, Lassie can be callous at times. But when things get dark, he tends to be human and sympathetic. That is not evident in this episode at all, as he continues to jibe at Shawn and say cold things about Despereaux's death. It's a little too much, even for Lassie.

All in all, a decent return for Psych, though one wishes this installment took a touch that was a little less light. Watch Psych Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on USA.

MORE: If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Please click here to get DVDs and streaming episodes of Psych. Article first published as TV Review: Psych - "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger" on Blogcritics.

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