‘Psych’ Season 7, Episode 8 Review – What If?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated April 19th, 2013 at 9:20 am,

PSYCH Season 7 Episode 8 Right Turn or Left for Dead Gus Juliet Lassie Shawn Psych Season 7, Episode 8 Review   What If?

Back in season 5, Psych tackled the It’s A Wonderful Life motif with “The Polarizing Express”, in which Shawn (James Roday) gets a glimpse of what life for his friends and colleagues would have been like had he chosen not to return to Santa Barbara. “Right Turn or Left for Dead” is similar in that it explores what might have happened had Shawn not offered his coat to Juliet (Maggie Lawson) at Lassiter’s (Tim Omundson) wedding.

Like “Polarizing”, this episodes takes place mostly inside of Shawn’s head, but fortunately, “Right Turn” is more Twilight Zone than It’s A Wonderful Life, so the characters are shown in parallel universes anchored by the photograph of Shawn and Jules at the wedding.

In one picture, she is wearing Shawn’s coat and his world falls apart shortly thereafter; in the other, Jules is wearing Chief Vick’s (Kirsten Nelson) wrap and the couple continues in their cheery soap bubble world where Shawn’s secret ruse is safe. Screen cuts, a la Sliding Doors and (500) Days of Summermove the audience back and forth between the two.

PSYCH Season 7 Episode 8 Right Turn or Left for Dead Gus Vic Woody Shawn Psych Season 7, Episode 8 Review   What If?

Like any good split-reality show, the writers and directors give the audience some visual clues to be able to track the story back and forth between alternate realities. The lighting, for example, is more subdued in world 1, where Juliet knows his secret, where in world 2, it has almost a rosy glow about it. Also, in world 1 Shawn wears a red shirt, versus his bloodstained white shirt in world 2 which follows him home from the wedding. Also, in world 2, the still-happy couple give Lassie a puppy as a wedding gift who helps them with the case, where in world 1, Shawn doesn’t pick up the dog from the rescue shelter and must muddle through on his own.

The biggest difference, however, centers around a blonde, Swedish girl named Elin (Laurian Gillieron). In world 1 she is alive and in 2 she’s dead, but in both worlds there are a series of murders that surround her. Where the beginning of the episode lags a bit and the end is a tangled mess of emotions, the middle is tight, snapping back and forth the two worlds and their subtle difference before merging seamlessly at the end. This is an interesting way to handle a very dramatic situation between the two leads. The sunnier version of reality allows the show to have the same comedic moments as usual, but there’s always this sense lurking in the background that it could burst at any moment.

PSYCH Season 7 Episode 8 Right Turn or Left for Dead Gus Shawn Psych Season 7, Episode 8 Review   What If?

The beauty of the writing, however, is that by the time the realities merge into the real world, both Shawn and the audience have come to the same conclusion: it wasn’t his jacket that was at fault, but his deceiving her all along. No matter how he tries to deny it, his whole professional world is based on a lie and since he and Juliet have been involved that lie has bled into his personal life. Gus (Dule Hill) and Henry (Corbin Bernsen), of course have always known Shawn is more hyper-observant than psychic but their reputations have been on the line as much as Shawn’s as the lie grew so they’ve kept quiet.

What’s refreshing is that Shawn, the ultimate man-child, is now being held accountable for his actions. He’s having to answer for lying to the woman he loves. Had the episode ended in Shawn’s fantasy world where he passes off the lie as if it were nothing and they kiss and make up, the show would have been paler, more cliche, for it. The reality is far more nuanced. Here, Juliet sees Shawn for who he is and while she can now respect him for the skilled investigator that he is, she has to come to grips with his deception and he has to live – alone – with the consequences of lying to a conman’s daughter. No doubt more of these pros and cons of her finding out will come to light as the remainder of the season plays out and it might upset a few die-hard shippers along the way. But complex journeys are always better in the long run and this seems to be a more that will make the show richer for its characters and its fans in the long run. Hang in there!


Psych returns next Wednesdays with “Juliet Wears the Pantsuit” @10pm on USA. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:

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  1. This was the first episode this season that I laughed consistently through the the show. It was also the only time I have found Gus’ eating habits to be used in a funny way, before it was just weird. Good heart to the episode and also good to see Shawn stay true to character. Whenever he talks to Jules about the problem he sounds like the lost little excuse making goof off boy that he is when faced with hard truthes.

  2. Good review Heather, your knowledge of Psych is impressive. Small typo in the 4th paragraph though,

    ” Also, in world 1 Shawn wears a red shirt, versus his bloodstained white shirt in world 1 which follows him home from the wedding.”

    I think you meant “…in world 2…”

    -All the best.

  3. Heather, not a bad article even though i think you are blowing the consequences of this way out of proportion. I have been an avid fan of this show since the pilot and i am always scouring the web for tidbits of info about the, show, spoilers, interviews etc. I purchased sides (pages of script) from future episodes and all i can say is by the end of this month Shawn and Juliet will be on their road to reconciliation. Stay tuned for episode 10, that’s all i am going to say. Also a blurb came out straight after last weeks episode from creator Steve Franks who outright said that the breakup will not last long, he said he doesn’t want to torture the fans by dragging it out, and that we should not be worried about the future of Shawn and Juliet. He said it’s going to be fun seeing what plans Shawn comes up with to win her back, saying that some will fail and some will work. I know that some fans want this to be a much bigger deal than it really is but i am afraid that those of you that want them to milk this drama for a while are going to be a little disappointed. I personally am a huge Shawn and Juliet fan and i cannot wait for all this drama to be over with. I watch Psych for the comedy and not for the drama, i have never liked drama on this show and i feel very, very happy that they aren’t going to drag this out for much longer.

  4. @Mac where did you purchase sides? And also I totally agree, I have been a fan of this show forever and a day, watched every episode 50 times and I always hate drama. I was just thinking that I just felt really depressed when Juliet found out, I felt as if the Psych I loved was slipping away, but good to read that its flare for comedy is coming back. And yes Heather you have world 1 & 2 interchanging in your review.

  5. @Jeff and @Shay Thanks for the catch, guys. I’ve updated. @Mac I like the balance of mostly comedy with a tinge of drama that Psych seems to be striking at the moment and I agree; in the end the show is all about fun. And I like it that way, though I do see this also as a way to help Shawn grow up just a tad. Glad they’re not dragging this out any more than they did the Henry-in-mortal-danger angle earlier and looking forward to watching Shawn bumble about for a bit; especially at Woody’s!