In my years of writing, I've developed a theory when it comes to villains: as long as it takes to develop a good one, it can take no time at all to overuse them. Wisely, Psych has decided to conclude its ongoing Yin/Yang story with this third installment. Yet there's a tall order to fill, considering the two previous episodes have seen both Shawn's mom and his now-girlfriend Juliet in the line of fire. What could top that?
A woman named Allison (Mena Suvari) claims that she was abducted by the mysterious Mr. Yin, bringing back memories for the SBPD crew, and it isn't long before she's taken again - from Henry's house, no less. This leads Shawn to turn to Yang (Ally Sheedy) for help again, while Henry calls up Maddie (Cybill Shepherd). To go forward, they have to look to their past encounters with Yin, and even into Shawn's own past. What ensues is a satisfying conclusion, which not only rewards the viewing audience for paying attention the first two times, but not going over the head of casual watchers who might have missed or forgotten those previous outings. It's also plenty suspenseful in its own right; even if it had been a standalone episode, I think I still would have enjoyed it.
It's great to see the return of Cybill Shepherd as Shawn's mom Madeline, and Mena Suvari makes a decent enough "new apprentice," but the best performance here comes with the reveal of Yin - yep, that's Peter Weller, who seems to have gone from playing an iconic hero in Robocop to playing a slew of deliciously evil bad guys. Fresh off getting stabbed as Stan Liddy on Dexter, he's just as slightly crazed when confronting Shawn and Gus. Weller's ability to go over the top and make it palatable works great on Psych, where the show's guest characters are often larger than the narrative. He's funny and he seems like he's having a great time. It's almost cool enough to make me wish that he'd be back in the future - almost.
That said, kudos to the Psych team for knowing when to say when. There's nothing sadder than a great villain who becomes tiresome because the writers bring them back one too many times (or more). This is the third time we've gone back to this story, and it's the right time to wrap it up and move on to something new. Especially with this being the end of the season, they have a perfect opportunity to clear the table and move into whatever season six might bring. This episode ends the arc, and the season, solidly.
For more Psych, check out the Psych category on my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.