PSYCH Season 4, Episode 9: "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark" - Review

This has been an inconsistent half-season of Psych thus far, but they definitely left us wanting more with an episode that was wall-to-wall action and suspense. Fans of the show know the best episodes are usually a nice blend of comedy and mystery, but laughs took a backseat this time out. That's totally forgivable in this case as the action got started right away with news that Shawn (James Roday) had been shot, and didn't let up for the full hour.

Right from the opening flashback, the look and feel of this episode was different. We're usually treated to Henry (Corbin Bernsen) giving young Shawn a life lesson or two in the first scene of every episode, but this time out, the tone was more serious as he taught Shawn to escape from the trunk of a car. Flash cut to the present day as Shawn is trying to escape from a trunk with a bullet hole in his shoulder. That opening event split the episode into three separate stories: Shawn's ordeal with his kidnappers, Henry's pursuit of his son with the help of Detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), and Gus (Dule Hill) and Detective Juliet O'Hara's (Maggie Lawson) investigation into the mystery that got Shawn in trouble to begin with.

One of the criticisms I've had of this show is that the supporting characters sometimes feel extraneous. In every episode, Henry, Lassiter and O'Hara will all make an appearance, regardless of if they're really needed. The strength of this episode came from how each character had a viable reason to be involved and how their involvement dovetailed nicely into an interesting change in the show's format.

For the first time this season, the show didn't follow a linear timeline. Not only were there three simultaneous story-lines going on, but we were treated to flashbacks throughout the episode of Henry teaching young Shawn useful survival techniques - skills he used to aid him in the present day. Additional flashbacks from the previous day detailed how Shawn uncovered a planned armored car heist and how that investigation got him kidnapped. There were no wasted scenes in this episode as the flashbacks and the separate plot threads weaved together to create a well-rounded, suspenseful mystery.

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