I have to commend the folks at Reaper for giving us a series finale with some of the most solid plotting the show’s ever produced. The A-plot about Sam’s contest with The Devil deserved and received the most attention, and the C-plot about Sock’s toad-induced drug-trip provided a well-played resolution to the B-plot about Nina’s exorcism. (To sum that up: Ben’s grandma pretends like she wants to make amends, but really she wants to exorcise Nina, which, after Ben walks out on his family, she agrees to, even though it might actually send her back to Hell – a fact Sock discovers in a note she left for Ben to find in case the exorcism worked.) Sure, the intervention of those two plots was perhaps a little too convenient and not unexpected in any way, but it made sense. And Tyler Labine’s comic timing as he yammered on with a swollen tongue was pretty excellent. I’ll be watching Sons of Tucson just for him.
As for the A-plot, Sam gets Angel Steve to help him translate the demon text, but and Steve tells him that he needs to reflect The Devil, and so buys him a replica of The Devil’s suit to wear during the challenge. And as for that challenge, Sam decides on quarters, pretty much the only thing he’s really good at, which is why he’s always the designated driver when he and the boys go out drinking. But when Sam summons The Devil, it turns out that he’s just as good at quarters as Sam is and the contest ends in a draw. No harm, no foul and, most importantly, no rematch, unless Sam can find something to sweeten the deal. Andi seeks out Gladys, whom I’ve missed dearly, and asks her to give Sam some advice on beating The Devil. She points out that Steve mistranslated the passage. Rather than reflecting The Devil’s image, Sam should have brought a mirror with him, as The Devil’s vanity is his biggest weakness. Even with this knowledge, though, Sam has nothing to put up against The Devil for a rematch . . . until Andi offers to give up her soul so that Sam can have a second chance at getting out of his contract.
At their second contest, Sam unveils a mirrored table, and The Devil is so distracted by his pretty face that he is only able to sink one shot. Showing shots of The Devil’s reflection in the mirrored table were probably the most artistic Reaper‘s gotten in its two-year run. They were very Twin Peaks-y. In anger, The Devil breaks the shotglass, so Sam heads in to obtain another one from the housewares section of The Work Bench. Once there, though, Steve greets him and breaks his right hand, acting on orders from up above. Sam tries to shoot left-handed, but is unable to sink a single shot, and Andi loses her soul.
Strangely, though, Andi is happy about being damned. When Steve tries to explain to them that he broke Sam’s hand on orders from God, he justifies the fact that this was meant to happen because Sam and Andi are now happy together that they’re both damned. And that’s where the show totally stopped making sense to me. Look, I don’t care that the show ended ambiguously, with Sam and Andi standing in the parking lot as Steve ascends and lights up the sky with angelic goodness, but I do care that, suddenly, for no reason, the show’s entire quest has been negated by Sam and Andi’s happiness in their eternal damnation. The whole “divine plan” aspect of it is so deus ex machina, a too-convenient way to pretend that everything is going to be okay. I wish the show had been okay with ending itself in the bleakness of damnation, just as Angel ended with the idea that the battle against evil rages on, our heroes brandishing their swords to fight in the streets of Los Angeles, but Reaper decided to turn back to the idea that God has a plan, which, really, is just kind of bad writing.
Too bad, Reaper. You deserved a better ending than you got.
- The whole Mary Pat character was so weird that she ended up being rather delightful, until her abrupt departure from the storyline when Steve, her “fairies,” entered.
- Steve. I’ll take more Michael Ian Black anytime.
- “Sam, I need my Jimbo fix. I want you to dance like a monkey.” – The Devil
- “Aw, man. Don’t be like that. Do you know how much of a downer Hell is? I’ve got to be wrecked to face that again.” – Frog-licking soul
- Frog-licking soul’s frog tongue was pretty neat.
- I’m glad King Charlie made some froggie friends.
- I’m glad Sam is the kind of guy who won’t have sex with a drunk girl even if she says she wants to. He’s a good dude.
- “Still doesn’t explain the suit. You look like Justin Timberlake took a dump.” – Gladys
- Sock’s frog-induced drug trip where he mowed down visions of Lupe Ontiveros was very Lost Highway, making this Reaper‘s most David Lynch-y episode yet.
- “I tasted music, and it tasted like garbage.” – Sock, perhaps why Mitch Hedberg suggests that hearing really is the only way to take it in.
I usually try to be pragmatic and treat series finales as if they were actual series finales, no matter what the fan uprising against its cancellation thinks. It just seems like the feasible thing to do, so as not to get anybody’s hopes up, which in turns renders people incapable of enjoying and discussing a series finale as is.
But with Reaper, I really don’t know how to proceed. The news looks better day-by-day that it could find some home in syndication, and since the budget is already so goddamned low, it’d be foolish for it not to be picked up.
But, more than anything, it would justify the choppy and abrupt ending, which I was fine with last night, but after having slept on it and thought about it, like less and less. The twist is fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. But there’s a scene missing, one where the characters wrap up the season in some fashion, more than that simply okay one preceding Steve’s final appearance where all the character’s discussed their weeks. The showrunners and writers always knew that this was the final episode of their second season, so why not work a little harder to make it feel like a better ending? Last season’s finale did a better job, what with an explosive finale, Steve’s revelation as an angel and Mr. Oliver’s death-and-rebirth. I’ve complained before about the problem with ending on-the-bubble shows with cliffhangers (i.e. DON’T DO IT!), and while this does have an ending, they could have worked it out much better.
As for this season, very little of it lives up to s1 post-strike, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss it. s2 worked just fine, don’t get me wrong, but it lacked a great deal of forward momentum, and if Jenny Wade hadn’t shown up, it might have all-but-completely lost its big beating heart.
So yes, pray to whatever god or deity or television producer that you worship and get this picked up in some form or another next season. Because they can do better than that. And yes, Bret Harrison needs a damn star vehicle.