I just couldn’t escape Armie Hammer this week, having seen him on Monday night’s Gossip Girl as Serena’s not-husband Gabriel, but hopefully his tenure on Reaper is over as of tonight, since Sam was able to successfully (if unintentionally) win the contest that The Devil set up for the two half-brothers to determine who would rightfully serve as Satan’s right hand. The terms were clearly set for Morgan to win, as he had more to lose. The loser, The Devil said, would have his clothes, car and condo taken away and be forced to live out his days on Earth as The Devil’s minion . . . which is pretty much what Sam already does, thus giving him nothing to lose. Sam made a pact with Morgan that he would help the shiny-toothed sycophant win, only Morgan had a hard time believing that Sam really wanted him to win, switching out his vessel with a real fire extinguisher, thus pissing off the soul and giving him time to set up a Hell portal to bring through his other little Hell-demon buddies. In the ensuing battle between the now three escaped souls and two reapers, Sam and Morgan managed to send each of the new escapees back through the portal (which I guess you can only go through once). But, in his battle with the original escaped soul, Morgan accidentally sends the vessel back through the Hell portal, leading Sam to win the contest when, in an effort to get the soul off of Morgan, he pushed him back through the Hell portal, which closes and collapses. Sam still tries to give Morgan all the credit, but The Devil knows better, and strips Morgan of all his worldly goods, for which Morgan swears he will kill Sam. I hope he just lets it go, because Armie Hammer’s fucking teeth drive me nuts on this show. And I really don’t want to see him again, especially in ill-fitting suits.
Ugh. Actually, the worst Armie Hammer related incident was when, in a moment of smittenness with Morgan, Sock admits that he thinks Morgan has a body for clothes and likes the way his suits hang on him. I realize Sock is the kind of guy who doesn’t get near a suit often, but dude wore a suit in this episode in his fake mourner sub-plot and he wore it way better than the stuff the wardrobe dept puts Mr. Hammer in.
In addition to the contest between Morgan and Sam, Andi spurs Sam to action about getting back on the Alan Thompson trail, because if Sam gets out of his contract with The Devil, she’ll totally date him again. Thus the gang decides to crash a funeral so they can gang up on Alan and find out his secret for beating The Devil. Sock takes up the role of the moirologist (a professional mourner, which is a great word to use whenever you possibly can) and starts making googly eyes at one of the mourners, following her even to the private memorial service for the deceased in the hopes that he can score with her afterward.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang tackles Alan at the funeral and drives him to a racetrack to try and entice him into spilling the beans or else be tempted back to Hell by succumbing to his gambling habit. Alan agrees to tell the gang his secret, if they can help get him to a larger consecrated ground, you know, like Vatican City. Sock and Ben put together a wonderfully funny little promotional video spoofing old Club Med ads to pique Alan’s interest, and he agrees to go along with the plan . . . only, after a while, he starts coming up with more and more demands like living expenses and a whole row of seats to himself so that he won’t be tempted by the other folks on the plane. Stuff like that.
Fortunately, through pure plot contrivance, Sock and Ben have just lucked into $10K, as the deceased at the funeral Sock was crashing planned to give that amount to each of her beloved students . . . which, despite the fact that Sock’s target female mourner had a boyfriend, was enough to lure him to stay and keep up the rouse that he was a student of this deceased teacher who loved bowling. In order to get the money, though, Sock had to pretend he was going to donate it to charity, so he roped Ben into posing as a charity executive director. Ben’s angle was to get start-up capital to invent an automated straw so that people with limited jaw usage could still suck things. Kind of genius, actually, and exactly the kind of thing that gets venture capital money, so why not charity money, too? Needless to say, Ben hands over this money to Sam when he hears that his friend needs it, regardless of whatever discussion he was just having with Sock about keeping the cash to actually invent the Straw-tomatic.
Before he boards his plane to Rome, Alan tells the gang that he beat The Devil with a plot straight out of a Charlie Daniels Band song. In “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” The Devil gets into a fiddlin’ contest with a young boy who bets his soul that he’s better than The Devil. Should Johnny win, he gets a golden fiddle, but should The Devil win, he gets Johnny’s soul. In that contest, Johnny won, and that’s exactly how Alan got out of Hell, by betting he could beat The Devil in a poker game. He suggests that Sam challenge The Devil to a contest, because Satan is such a narcissistic douchebag that he will never say no to a challenge, especially if a soul is on the line. Whenever I think of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” I think of my favorite Futurama episode, in which Fry makes a Faustian deal to trade his hands for a pair of robot hands so that he can play a beautiful opera, Leela: Orphan of the Stars, to win Leela’s heart. You can watch it at Milk and Cookies, but here’s my my favorite line:
“Destiny has cheated me, by
forcing me to decide upon
the woman that I idolize
or the hands of an automaton”
The bit on Futurama is a bit more like Faust (hence why I described it as Faustian) in terms of making a pact with The Devil rather than having a contest with him, but the stakes are high in both. I just like that on Futurama the Robot Devil really wants human hands, rather than human souls. Opposable thumbs are where it’s at, yo.
(Husband Note: Wife, no mention of the earlier Robot Devil episode, “Hell Is Other Robots,” where Leela and the Robot Devil literally get into a fiddling contest to save Bender from his fate? And no, the Robot Devil hates having Fry’s hands, because they keep touching him in…places. He just put his name on the Wheel of Robots as a sign of good faith.) (I bow to a skill far greater than my own at remembering everything that happens on Futurama.)
Anyway, as far as Sam’s eventual contest with The Devil is concerned, I think it sets us up for a really cool series/season finale. I can’t imagine what thing Sam is that good at, because I presume he works at The Work Bench precisely because he’s not all that good at anything. Maybe there could be a cool contest involving product stacking or a timber yard obstacle course, just to make it kind of silly. But we should also consider that Alan isn’t telling us the truth about how he escaped Hell, especially because he refuses to tell the whole story to the gang until he is safely in Italy, and that shortly thereafter The Devil commandeers Alan’s plane and redirects it to land in Vegas, full of casinos and $100 in free poker chips to spend while the plane is grounded for maintenance. In fact, The Devil pops right up along side Alan, just to rub it in that he will never really be free. If Alan had won a contest with The Devil fair and square, I don’t think he’d be nearly as worried as he is about being caught again. I understand not wanting to go back to Hell, but I’m starting to get the feeling that Alan is just making shit up, pulling lyrics from Charlie Daniels Band as if they were gospel. The Devil may want to get a soul he lost back, but why should he go through all that trouble when he could just as easily corrupt hundreds more? I dunno. Maybe it is important for The Devil to save face by gaining back a soul he foolishly lost. Reaper‘s not really a show full of misdirection and thick plots, but I would really, really like it if we were moving toward a season/series finale that would explore ways in which Sam might try to beat The Devil if Alan was lying.
One final element of this episode was a subplot featuring Ben’s evil-seeing grandma and Nina. Afraid of what his grandmother may think of his demon girlfriend, Ben goes out of his way to keep her from his Abuela, but Nina isn’t about to let Ben be bossed around by an old lady and sets out to make things right with Abuela after she first shuns Nina. Nina reminds the old woman that she’s just a fallen angel, and while she may know what Hell is like, she has also seen Heaven and its glory. Impressed and subdued, the women share a conversation about St. Peter and how awesome he is, until Ben runs out with his Abuela’s little chihuahua, who startles Nina and makes her transform into her demon form, which gives Ben’s grandma a [non-fatal] heart attack. Nina feels awful and wants to apologize, but Ben won’t let her, instead telling Nina that he told his grandma they had broken up. She asks him to have some backbone, and so he breaks up with her. Nina walks away, warning him that she forgave him when he broke her heart once, but she won’t do it again. In fact, this time he’ll wish they’d never met. Knowing Ben, I find it hard to believe that he would actually break up with Nina to demonstrate that he had a backbone, because he totally doesn’t, but clearly, Nina has some sort of role to play on either Sam’s side or The Devil’s side in this contest/finale, and at this point, it’s looking like she’ll be chillin’ with The Devil. As long as she’s around, though, I don’t care whose side she’s on.
- The Devil takes global warming very seriously, because if the Earth is destroyed, all the souls who die will be considered innocents, which mean God gets them. And the Devil is really not about that. “So, yeah, man. I’m going green.”
- “You going somewhere? You’ve got a going-out chain.” – Nina, on Ben’s choice of accessories
- “Our relationship is in the ICU!” – Nina, funny because of Jenny Wade’s delivery
Special mention must be made of Collette Wolfe, who played the mourning student Sock had his eye on, simply for reminding me to call out the movie Observe and Report for being a piece of shit, and how Ms. Wolfe was the only good thing about the Seth Rogen misfire that mistakes pathetic for funny, just like she’s the only real good thing (other than the final “dick-shit” monologue) in director Jody Hill’s earlier film The Foot Fist Way. BAM!