It’s been ages since we last saw Sam as the Devil’s bounty hunter. You’ll be forgiven if you spent the majority of tonight’s hour shaking the Reaper cobwebs inside your brain. But don’t worry: last year’s big mythological twist was largely ignored in favor of reestablishing the show’s general (and genial) weekly rhythms. But after ten months off the air, will anyone be watching?
Flash back quickly to the end of last season. Sam’s biological father apparently dies. Sam then learns he might in fact be the spawn of Satan. Well, Mr. Oliver’s far from dead, but Sam doesn’t know that. In fact, he and his buddies Sock and Ben decided to deal with the repercussions of that fateful night with a four-week road trip. Not the most mature way to deal with trauma, but who ever accused these guys of maturity?
The three return once Sam realizes Sock never mailed his explanatory letter to Andi. So they high tail it back home, to find themselves evicted from their apartment, fired from their jobs, and on the end of some major Andi stink eye. Since The Work Bench is one of three sets the show employs, you knew it wouldn’t be long before Ted rehired them. Turns out that hanging fliers inside the store from which you are reselling goods at a major profit margin isn’t the best way to earn extra money in these tough economic times.
So, getting his job back was easy, but getting the girl back? Not as easy. Still not comfy with the whole “I’m dating the Devil’s muscle” thing, she spends the majority of the episode ensconced in sadness and one hellacious fake tan. Seriously, has the sun ever shone on this show? Honestly, Andi. But I guess when you spend a month worrying if your potential soulmate’s soul is roasting on a spit in hell, you have to pass the time somehow.
With no escape from Satan’s grip seemingly possible, Sam despairs. Luckily, his Soul of the Week excursion offers a potential out. Actually, I should say Souls of the Week, as Satan commanded him to retrieve not one, but an entire warehouse of souls. Think Fight Club meets The Sixth Sense and you get the general gist. The vessel by which to capture this hellacious crew? A cattle prod that needs to recharge in between uses. Not the best weapon by which to capture this many undead pugilists.
Ben ends up solving the conundrum: KEGGER! Yup, after spending a night essentially ignoring their own imminent demise, the boys decide to get the souls dead drunk, which allowed for the most hysterical moment of the night: Sam being lowered into the passed out fray to the tune of “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.” It was Mission: Impossible scored by Tchaikovsky. Just genius.
After dispatching of the horde (through a combination of high-flying acrobatics and clever use of a fire hose), Sam met his potential way out of Satan’s grip: an escaped soul named Alan, who somehow figured out his way from under Satan’s thumb. He escaped before Sam could learn his secret, but at least now we have Season 2’s arc: Sam’s search for Alan while keeping said search on the lowdown from Lucifer.
Other tidbits from tonight’s episode:
- Looks like Sock’s got his ongoing storyline himself, in the form of a way too flirty stepsister named Kristen. I can see a little of this going a long way, but for now, I’ll accept some gratuitous bikini shots and Sock shot-putting his new sister off the bed due to excessive tickling. It’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta recap it.
- I didn’t expect to see Sam’s parents in this episode, but given their role in Sam’s current night gig, I hope we get clues as to their whereabouts sooner rather than later.
- Quotes of the night: Ben: “Yea, I use a crimper sometimes. It adds to my mystique.” Sock: “Shut your mouth, that is my sister! I got dibs.” Satan: “I just wanted to tell you your pentagram is actually a Star of David.”
- The fact that the show needs to up the soul numbers just to keep things interesting shows how much it needs to move past this trope as a weekly crutch. Between Sam’s parentage and Alan’s escape, we have plenty of narrative mythology upon which to hang our hat on a weekly basis by now.
- Not that I already didn’t love Ray Wise, but watch his rocking out to The Karate Kid’s immortal song “You’re The Best Around” might just be the best television moment of 2009. Yes, it’s early March, but how in the heck can you top THAT? Satan grooving to the song that plays over the greatest montage in movie history? Please, you can’t!
All in all, the easy-going charm of Reaper was present from minute one, and while it didn’t really break much new ground, it still provided a solid hour of entertainment. Seeing Sam and company back on my television made my heart feel good. I just wonder how many other people decided to return to the show after its lengthy hiatus. I hope many did, as it’s deserving of a large audience.
What did you think of tonight’s return? Did the show’s long absence hurt your enjoyment, or did you slip right back into it? Are you more interested in learning about Mr. Oliver’s fate or Alan’s escape? Leave your thoughts below!
Ryan posts the best recaps around over at Boob Tube Dude.