Thursday, May 28, 2009
"Reaper" season finale recap: "The Devil and Sam Oliver"
I'm finally getting caught up on all the stuff I missed while I was away on vacation. Yesterday, I watched the last two "Reaper" episodes of the season. These also might be the last two episodes ever, as the CW hasn't picked "Reaper" up for a third season. The show's production company is still shopping the show around, possibly for syndication (see details here), but I think it's unlikely. Even if the show does return, it will be without creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, which means it could have a totally different feel.
With all that in mind, I had mixed feelings watching the season two finale "The Devil and Sam Oliver." On the one hand, it did set up some good questions for a possible season three, mainly just what is God's plan for poor Sam (and now Andi, who also lost her soul to the devil)? On the other hand, the episode was strong enough, both from an entertainment perspective and from a mythology perspective, that I'm OK if it doesn't come back.
The finale was kind of a greatest hits of all the things I love about this show. We had Sam dancing like a monkey at the devil's behest; Sock turning back into the season one Sock we loved; Andi showing some spine and, best of all, the returns of both Steve and Gladys. Good stuff.
Here are a few more of my thoughts on the finale:
* In his blog recap, The Star Ledger's Alan Sepinwall took issue with the fact that we suddenly learned that Sam is good at quarters -- something we'd never seen evidence of before. It's a good point, but that twist worked for me, as it was totally in character. It's not like we suddenly found out he had a secret gift for organic chemistry.
* Sam's monkey dance was a highlight, as was the Devil's delighted reaction to it. But, for me, the best moment was Sock describing his trip after accidentally ingesting chemicals given off by Ben's hallucinogenic toad: "I tasted music. And it tasted like garbage."
* I really like the character of Nina. Her relationship with Ben was both sweet and funny, and gave a little more depth to a show that was sometimes lacking it. It was surprisingly touching when she volunteered to go through with the exorcism, even though it might send her back to hell, just to restore Ben's relationship with his grandma.
* How come we didn't get to see Andi actually offer up her soul to the Devil? Hearing about it secondhand seemed like a cop-out and robbed that plot turn of some of its power.
* If this show is gone for good, the thing I'll miss most is Ray Wise's brilliantly naughty and hilarious turn as the Devil. All of his moments in this episode were gold, from his deadpan sadness over the loss of his favorite monkey, to his malicious glee at defeating Sam in competition. Please find him a new show.
* I'll also miss Rick Gonzalez's clever work as Ben and Bret Harrison's solid, everyman charm as Sam. "Reaper" was a show that didn't always work, but was always worth watching, if only for its charming slacker vibe and the likable performances by most of its cast. Like everyone, I'm still on the fence about Tyler Labine's performance as Sock, but, truth be told, I liked it more often than I didn't like it, so I'll miss him, too.