Friday, September 4, 2009

"Classic" Recap: Psych "From the Earth to the Starbucks"

“Heard about Pluto? That’s messed up, right?”

I’m pretty sure “From the Earth to the Starbucks” is when I first really became invested in "Psych." This particular first season episode of "Psych" is special because it is the first instance in the series where we start to see real character development. Shawn thinks about someone other than himself, and Lassiter is more than just a bully who wants to get rid of Shawn. There’s all the hilarious Shawn/Gus banter you could possibly ask for. Overall, the four main characters are just really well used in this episode. Plus, the action takes place at a space center! As a former space nut (I’ve been to Space Camp three times- true story), I found that aspect of the episode especially fun as well. Please excuse me if this blog post seems a little disjointed. I’m a little distracted by all the buzz on Whedonesque and Twitter suggesting something may be brewing in the world of everybody’s favorite internet musical, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” A short vid for the Emmys, perhaps? Anyway, let me just put my Neil Patrick Harris fangirl-ness aside for a minute and get back to talking about "Psych." Gotta take a deep breath…

And back to our regularly scheduled programming! Shawn and Lassiter both really appear as well-rounded, three dimensional characters by the end of “From the Earth to the Starbucks.” There are two times when Shawn actually does something nice for someone else. The first is the very beginning of the episode when he’s at Tom Blair’s Pub, and he figures out that his date just got out of a relationship. He’s okay with being the rebound guy, but then he figures out that his date’s ex didn’t cheat on her, he was about to propose. Instead of continuing the date, Shawn encourages the woman to call her ex, and she happily bounces back into the bar after the phone call to announce that she’s engaged. Shawn’s bigger selfless act of the episode is actually the episode’s focus. He decides to start investigating a case Lassiter has been having trouble with free of charge. And he wants Lassiter to take all the credit and believe it was his own work that led to the arrest. This is clearly not normal behavior for Shawn, who likes to be the center of attention. Gus acknowledges how strange it is when Shawn first tells him the idea. Gus is baffled, in fact, that Shawn doesn’t want to take the credit. That opening scene in Tom Blair’s Pub also gives more depth to Lassiter. Shawn finds Lassiter in the pub very drunk because it has been two years since Lassiter and his wife separated. Lassiter provides details of the split that he has never told anyone before, and Shawn, and we as viewers, begin to see Lassiter as a human being. That realization is the major reason why Shawn decides to undertake Operation: Get Lassie His Groove Back.

This episode contains some of the funniest Shawn/Gus banter of the entire series to date. The idea that Shawn regularly stalks Gus (that’s how Shawn knows Gus will like to take a case at the Space Center) may seem creepy on its surface, but the result never fails to make me laugh uncontrollably. Gus promises Shawn that Shawn won’t be able to follow him anymore because he’s going to be “stealth…like a jackal.” I especially love Dulé Hill’s head bobs to illustrate being “stealth.” Then there’s the whole scene of Gus actually trying to be stealth when arriving for his next visit to the Space Center. He drives his car around in circles and hides in bushes, only to find that Shawn has gotten a job at the Space Center just so he can be there the moment Gus arrives. Shawn announces to the entire building over the PA system “The Jackal has arrived!”

Every character really gets to shine in “From the Earth to the Starbucks.” I like how Lassiter and Juliet are actually integral to this case. They do police-like stuff such as running phone records. These days, it feels more like Shawn and Gus solve the case in spite of the SBPD, or the SBPD just shows up for the arrest at the end. I also like how this episode shows that Juliet has such a good heart. She doesn’t question Shawn’s psychic ability, and as soon as she finds out that the purpose of Shawn’s scheme is to get Lassie back in the game, she’s all in. Gus gets plenty of comedy in addition to the whole “Jackal” sequence, and he gets the girl! Even if it is only for about 5 minutes before Shawn inevitably screws it up (that stalking thing again). In addition to his silly “space run,” Shawn also gets some emotional moments in this episode. He has to deal with the fact that his father is indeed dating again. Shawn doesn’t exactly deal with it well, but it is certainly an interesting struggle to watch.

Another thing I love about this episode is all the space jokes. The quote at the top of this post is pretty much my favorite all-time Psych quote (the episode was written around the time Pluto was de-planetized). There’s also the fun of Shawn trying to run a planetarium program without knowing any constellations. The best moment of that sequence is when he calls one constellation “The Hammer of Jeff.” I also love when Shawn says, “And that is why time travel is not only possible, but has already occurred!” as he leads his motion-sick guests out of the 45 minute (it’s only supposed to be 7 minutes) planetarium program. Anybody else think the creepy klepto janitor in this episode looks like Viggo Mortensen (even though he’s definitely not)?

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