As a season draws to a close, some shows choose to use the penultimate show as a buildup to the finale, hoping to spark an interest with viewers and pump up the ratings, while others stick with the usual episodic format, relying on a shocking trailer for the finale to lure viewers in. Psych does a little bit of both in this week's episode, "Nip and Suck It," though mostly it sticks to the episodic format.
Over the course of season 7, each of the main characters has had his or her turn in the episode spotlight and this time around it's Henry (Corbin Bernsen) who serves as the show's main focal point. The story builds off of material from the beginning of the season, where Henry is shot and decides to stick to his decision and hang up his hat as a detective. Retirement, however, doesn't suit him, so "Nip and Suck It" finds Henry getting back in the saddle again, this time as a private eye squaring off against his son.
Psych has done Henry vs Shawn face-offs in the past and includes the requisite "kid" and "old man" jokes one would expect, hitting the expected story beats as well. Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) get a lead and think they're ahead, only to be thwarted by a sly Henry. Henry, overconfident in his minor victory thinks he's onto something, only to be proven wrong and made to feel like he's lost a step in his old age. Feeling somewhat guilty of his treatment of dear old Dad, Shawn decides to rally Henry's spirits and give him a piece of the action after all.
What keeps this from slipping into the predictable and cliche is that the show knows exactly what it's doing and pokes fun of itself along the way. Henry, for example, knows the the "Rah Rah" speech from Shawn is coming, and is dressed for the occasion under his plaid bathrobe. Over the years Roday and Bernsen have developed a great father/son chemistry on-screen and this episode, making these moments and others all the more enjoyable in their delivery.
All in all, "Nip and Suck It" won't be winning any awards in the comedy or drama department, but it's enjoyable enough and lays some groundwork for the finale next week. Shawn and Juliet (Maggie Lawson) are officially an item again and if the pineapple break-up cookies are any indication, Gus and Rachel (Parminder Nagra) have run their course. Henry gets a second date with Joan Diamond (Lori Loughlin) - though honestly, the dating Henry story has been done before so it'd be more interesting if he got a part-time job at Psych, working as his son's employee rather than his boss. Then of course there is the trailer for the finale, featuring Anthony Michael Hall as a potential threat to the existence of Psych.
While viewers wait to see what will become of Santa Barbara's most famous psychic detectives here are some of this week's better moments: Lori Loughlin is enjoyable in her role as cosmetic surgeon Joan Diamond both as a potential suspect and as someone from Henry's past; whacking Henry with a mounted fish is pretty good too. The hotdog stand named "Footlong and Fancy Free" is upstaged only by Henry's fake nap and cardboard "Suck It" sign. Gus' obsession about his earlobes might have gotten a bit old as the episode went on, but "my black is cracking" is classic. Lassie (Tim Omundson) doesn't have a huge role in this one, but he gets in a line about Diamond being "guilty as Mrs. O'Leary's cow" and scorns the Spenser boys' ghosts and cellulite. And finally, props to the writers for working in a commercial for the new Psych book into the end scene and to Dule Hill's delivery of the line "delicious beacons of heartache" concerning the breakup cookies.
Psych returns next Wednesday with "No Trout About It" @10pm on USA.