After last week's Twin Peaks tribute, I was ready to get back to regular Psych. The show returns to its standard form with a doozy: Shawn and Gus destroy an SBPD sting operation, and are subsequently banished to the police academy to obtain a professional education.
This puts them at the mercy of Officer Nick Conforth (The Karate Kid's Ralph Macchio), Lassiter's old academy nemesis. It's all fun and games for Shawn and Gus - despite their managing to consistently embarrass themselves - until they motivate Conforth to one-up Lassiter by trying to catch a sought-after robbery suspect. This lands everyone in hot water, leading them to chase the bad guy in hopes of earning redemption. They end up uncovering two overly ambitious computer experts, a supermarket bookie, and one very angry check-cashing thug. Psych throws enough twists into the story to keep it interesting, but doesn't get convoluted, not even during a supermarket shootout (with one very blatant Snapple product placement that later comes in handy).
That efficient writing allows more room for the characters to shine. The episode gives great moments to all the regulars, whether it's Lassiter's acidic banter with his former classmate, Juliet being forced to act as substitute instructor at the academy, or Gus telling Shawn to "stop hypothetically typecasting me." If there's one thing that's irksome, it's that certain things are predictable; you know that right after Juliet tells Shawn not to do something, he's going to do it. It's a regular element of the show, but after five years, it's getting easier to figure Shawn out.
Macchio makes a good showing as Officer Conforth, his relatively calm demeanor balancing out James Roday's high-energy antics. It's easy to believe that he could have been the next head detective if his nerves hadn't gotten the better of him, and I was hoping he'd overcome those fears through the episode. His performance reminded me of the late, awesome FOX Reality Channel series The Academy, which actually focused on two police training classes (and one from the fire department). The idea of Shawn and Gus having to deal with someone like Deputy Dwight Miley makes me laugh just thinking about it.
A successful episode of Psych, in my eyes, is one that makes me laugh consistently, and this week's episode definitely accomplished that. I'm a little biased because of my life experience, but this is my favorite episode in the second half of season five. I'm okay with anything that involves a Jackie Earle Haley reference, after all.
Need to catch up on Psych? Full show coverage is available in the Psych category at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.