Reaper


The Wife:

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.

Right now, in college towns across America, people are betting their souls on games of quarters.

Right now, in college towns across America, people are betting their souls on games of quarters.

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.

Good things:

  • 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.

The Husband:

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.

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The Wife:

We’re only one episode away from the season finale of Reaper (and the series finale, most likely), so I was happy to see an episode that focused so heavily on steering the masterplot, with very little distraction from a meaningless subplot. In fact, let’s just talk about that subplot now to get it out of the way. Nina sets Sock up with one of her demon friends, but Sock doesn’t like Maggie because she’s not as hot as Nina. (Although, let’s face it, she is a very pretty girl who just prefers to be a tomboy.) So Maggie tells Sock she can look like anything he wants, and he agrees to go out with her again if she’ll change into his dream girl. Thus, he spends time making a Frankensteiny collage of lady parts he likes and hands it to Maggie, who agrees to show up for their next date looking like his dream girl. Only when she shows up, she’s just herself, all to teach Sock a lesson that he doesn’t really learn and won’t grow from at all. It was lame, yes, but I liked the actress who played Maggie, Catherine Reitman (daughter of Ivan), who also had a bright cameo on the abysmal Kath & Kim as the high school friend Kim kinda goes gay for. (According to IMDB, she’s also a bridesmaid in I Love You, Man, but I was probably too distracted by those adorable yellow J. Crew dresses to notice who was wearing them.)

Taking a dig at the soullessness of corporate America, The Devil sets Sam up with a job at one of his companies. But, you see, the company doesn’t actually make or do anything – it’s just a shell corporation from which The Devil harvests souls by encouraging them to do evil things. Sam fits right in when he accidentally shoves a rival out the window after this architect’s design tanks because of Sam’s suggestion at a pitch meeting. (That suggestion, by the way, was to do nothing.) Meanwhile, The Devil shows Sam around the company, taking him all the way up to the 75th floor, from which demons in The Devil’s employ have a sort of soul stock market, tracking the evil things down by the employees on lower floors and delighting when one does something, like, say, throwing another out a window, the Hellish equivalent of a big Wall Street sale.

Welcome to the 75th floor, buying and trading sin 24/7.

Welcome to the 75th floor, buying and trading sin 24/7.


The Devil also points out a portal to Hell on the 75th floor, which is only accessible by keycard. Immediately, Sam thinks this would be a great way to get to his dad, who sent him a text earlier stating that he got what he needed to get Sam out of his contract, but was stuck in the 3rd circle. Humans can’t go through Hell portals, but Demons can, so Sam asks Tony to go, only now that he has Lil’ Stevi, he can’t leave her with a babysitter for that long. After receiving a promotion from his boss for offing a coworker and getting access to the 75th floor, Sam gets Nina to go to Hell for him and retrieve the info from Mr. Oliver. She’s hesitant to go, fearing that a trip to Hell will bring back all those nasty habits she’s been trying to quit, but she agrees to go as long as she doesn’t have to stay more than 24 hours. Sam et al go on a recon mission to get Nina into that Hell portal, and all goes well . . . until Sam’s boss realizes that Sam didn’t push Phil out the window at all, that it was merely an accident Sam took credit for. This is enough to get Sam fired, meaning he loses his key card to get to the 75th floor, leaving Nina trapped in Hell.

The gang stages a plan to steal a keycard from Sam’s boss by breaking into his gym locker while Sock distracts him in the sauna, a plan which goes a little more smoothly than expected when they’re able to convince a janitor to pop open the lock with a skeleton key, rather than wait out Ben’s time-tested “trying every combination of numbers starting with 000” method. As the gang heads up to the 75th floor, they’re only a few minutes ahead of Sam’s boss, who realizes when he gets in the next elevator up that he doesn’t have his keycard. Instead of merely standing around, he turns into his demon self and tears through the top of the elevator carrel before shimmying his way up the shaft via the cables. Nina emerges from the Hell portal just in time, with bossman clawing his way through the steel doors of the elevator shaft on the 75th floor, and Sam begs her to fly him and Ben out of there . . . only to find out when they arrive home safely that the paper Nina imported from Hell is blank. After some thought, Nina realizes the paper needs to be consumed in flames to be read, so she tosses it on the outdoor grill where it reveals an ancient demon text, one the gang will have to translate in order to find out what kind of contest Sam will challenge The Devil to in the season finale.

Contests I think Sam could win:

  • a drinking contest (maybe; I bet The Devil can hold his liquor pretty well)
  • a laziness contest (although, sloth is a sin, so maybe The Devil would win that anyway, even if Sam won outright)
  • a skateboarding contest
  • a Hybrid car race
  • a paintball tournament
  • a Super Smash Brothers tournament
  • a soul-catching contest, which would be pretty neat, actually, if Sam could beat The Devil at the job he reluctantly does and hates doing


Speaking of which, I did not miss the soul-catching element of the show at all this week as the stuff with the masterplot was rather satisfying – way more well-done than in “No Reaper Left Behind.”

Other amusing things:

  • Nina and Ben’s lengthy discussion of how Ben will pamper Nina when she returns from Hell, which quickly turns into a list of Ben’s various cleanliness hangups. “Okay, baby. We can squat in the shower together.”
  • “I change three times a day, kiddo. This is my afternoon suit.” – The Devil
  • And suddenly, I want to see a fierce-off suit fashion show between The Devil and Barney Stinson, mashed up to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band. This must already exist on the internet, no? If it doesn’t, someone needs to make it.
  • Know who else looks good in a suit? Bret Harrison. Turtlenecks are really wrong on him, but he is deliciously cute in a suit and tie.
  • “I’ve done a lot of personal development and detoxing to stop craving the sounds of people in agony.” – Nina
  • The extent to which Ben dabbles in architecture: underwater hotels for 360-degree ocean views.

The Wife:

Now that Andi’s been demoted, she’s happy to help Sam and the boys fight evil . . . just not date evil. And their assignment this week involved capturing their high school biology teacher, Mr. Sprong (Mad TV‘s Michael McDonald), who was a giant soul-crushing douchebag to every single one of his students. Or so they think, until they hit Sprong with the vessel (a mallet) and realize that he’s human and bleeding and unconscious. The team has no choice but to tie up Sprong so that he doesn’t call the authorities, at which point they realize that Sprong wasn’t the soul, but his target. The soul is actually Jordy Boone, a former student of Sprong’s taking revenge on those who made his life hell. Jordy always thought he was invisible, and now he can be, able to disappear and reappear anytime and place he chooses. To best protect Sprong from Jordy and themselves from getting in trouble, they decide to kidnap Sprong and keep him under house arrest. Because of Jordy’s ability to disappear, they have a lot of trouble locating him, but The Devil doesn’t care because he’s already so impressed with the Sprong situation:


“I’m a very proud papa bear. Kidnapping? Assault? You’re way more twisted than I could have hoped!”

Im real proud of you, Sammy!

I'm real proud of you, Sammy!

Meanwhile, Nina is in demon heat, so skeevy demons keep hitting on her and attacking the house. This upsets Ben, and he wants to fight for Nina’s honor, but she tells him that insane, because he’s breakable and she doesn’t want him to die. (Has Ben already forgotten that Nina already lost one human lover?) She tries to protect Ben by offering to wait out her week-long heat in a secure, unknown location, but Ben can’t bear the thought of being without her, so she promises she’ll stay as long as Ben doesn’t do anything stupid . . . like . . . say . . . make a robot suit to protect him when he decides to fight of Nina’s chief demon suit, Xavier. The robot suit was actually really funny, and a classic Sock idea. I have made robot suits like that for a stage production I did in college of Hamlet on the Moon (it makes more sense than you think it does), so that was extra funny to me. And so Ben charged off like a roboknight in high-gloss armor to fight Xavier, only to be humped by him because he’s inadvertently been covered in Nina’s scent. Demon violation? Funny.

Other than inventing robot suits, Sock is in Ted’s good graces for sticking by the new Interim Store Manager in his time of need, so, to show his gratitude, Ted asks Sock to be the posterboy for the Work Bench. Though Sock assumes he’ll be donning the Bench’s apron and grinning in his ads, he’s actually asked to wear a wrench costume and become the store’s mascot, Wrenchy Bench. Sock zooms to unexpected popularity as Wrenchy, becoming the beloved celebrity of any kids dragged into the Bench by their parents. That is, until he’s slapped with a cease and desist order from a competing store, which claims Wrenchy infringes on their own mascot, Brandon the Hammer. Sock refuses to stop being Wrenchy and eventually gets into a tool fight with Brandon the Hammer, who turns out to be an old lady. There really is nothing better than watching people in mascot costumes fight.

Eventually, Sam and the gang figure that they have to let Sprong go to lure Jordy, but they return home to find that Nina left to go eat a moose and Sprong has attempted to escape, which lures Jordy right to them. They try to vessel him, but to no avail. He even takes Andi and threatens to kill her if they don’t let him kill Sprong, at which point Sprong agrees to let Jordy kill him, all the while holding the vessel behind his back, waiting to strike. Free of the soul, Sprong runs away and the gang faces the reality of their actions: they might all soon be doing some serious jail time for kidnapping and felony assault. But just when it seems as though the cops are there to arrest them, the officers reveal that they’re investigating a complaint from Sprong, whom they fear has suffered a mental breakdown talking about invisible people and magic mallets, checking to see if the persons mentioned in his complaint are okay. So Sam and the gang live to reap souls another day, and celebrate their non-losery accomplishments that night with some drinks at the bar.

For being a soul-of-the-week episode without any contribution to the mytharc, this was a good, solid episode. It’s exactly what I needed to watch while I was feverish and wrapped in blankets on my floor.

The Husband:

I just want to make my feverish wife aware that she said “Sprong” seven times in the first paragraph, and that makes me giggle.

The Wife:

On Monday’s Gossip Girl, Chuck Bass made a comment about how he knew Gabriel (Armie Hammer) was up to no good because “his suits never did fit right.” Clearly, Chuck somehow has access to the Reaperverse, because Gossip Girl is the show where Mr. Hammer’s clothes actually do fit him correctly. Reaper took care of that problem for me this week by a.) keeping Mr. Hammer out of said clothes all together and b.) finally, gloriously, unexpectedly killing him. Dude, I can’t wait till his arc of GG is done so I am rid of the man and his mouth full of gleaming white teeth.

And how did Morgan, Son of Satan meet his end? At the fangs and claws of Nina and her “prayer group” of Steventologists, demons formerly of the Rebellion who gather together at Tony’s house to worship the way his dead lover Steve lived his life. After all, Steven was a demon who ascended into heaven (and it’s better than Cancun), so if they live their lives doing good deeds like he did, perhaps they, too, can achieve that paradise. But before Morgan meets his end there, Nina moves in to the house with Sam et al (yay!), and so does Morgan, when he attacks his half-brother for taking his “birthright,” who then turns the other cheek and invites Morgan to live with them until he gets back on his feet. Making no secret of her still-there attraction to bad boys, Nina flirts with Morgan, which worries Ben significantly.

Sessy.

Sessy.

Rather than giving Sam a soul to catch this week, The Devil gives him a soul to take. Sam gets to deliver the greedy soul a sports car and have him sign for it, which will actually be the act that signs his soul over to Satan. But the soul is wise to The Devil’s games and won’t sign. Even when Sam sends Ben and Sock to get him to sign, he signs with a fake name, thus negating the act. Sam warns him that living in greedy excess will get him sent to Hell anyway, even if he doesn’t directly sign his soul over to The Devil, but Gary the DoucheSoul informs the boys that he plans to repent in the 11th hour and get a one-way ticket to Cancun Paradise Heavenville. Because Gary is such a douche, Sam wants to take his soul and damn him to hell, but Tony warns against it, fearing that if Sam takes Gary’s soul, he’ll become truly evil. So Tony invites Sam to his Steventologists meeting, which he eventually takes Gary the DoucheSoul to after The Devil informs Sam that repenting in the 11th hour can’t work for Gary if The Devil decides to kill him while he’s still in his heyday of sinning.

At the Steventologists meeting, Steve speaks to Gary the DoucheSoul through a karaoke DVD to get Sam to watch his back, which is timely because Nina has succeeded in her plan to nearly seduce Morgan and then drag him to a prayer meeting where he would prove he’s not a bad boy. Only, he is, and he uses his brief time there to pull a gun on Sam, revealing his plan to get back on his father’s good side by offing Sam. This does not go over well with the demon crowd and suddenly Nina and her friends shed their human forms and eviscerate Morgan. Hooray! Now he’s almost entirely out of my life!

Back at home, Ben is waiting for Nina’s return, suspicious that she may have cheated on him with Morgan (especially since she hid the fact that she was a Steventologist from him for so long), but she confesses that she was simply doing her duty to lure Morgan to his death as part of the rebellion, sworn to kill the spawns of Satan. The Devil is not happy that Sam lost the soul, but he is pleased as punch that Sam got his brother killed, which The Devil takes as a sign that Sam is headed down the right, evil path, even though he insists he didn’t do it.

All of this plotting was good, exciting and forward-moving. Plus, anything involving a prophetic karaoke DVD of Michael Ian Black is cool with me. Not as good? The totally contrived plot where Ted gets engaged (but not really) and Sock and Ben decide to throw him a bachelor party with terrifying stripper clowns (“the Reese’s Cup of party entertainment”) at the Work Bench, which ends up being a ploy Ted uses to get Andi demoted when he calls the home office to drop by the party and bust the manager who violated store policy by throwing it. Thus, Andi becomes just another Work Bench low-life, and Ted regains his authority. First of all, stripper clowns are the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen and I never want to see them again but can’t get the image of their horrible painted visages out of my head. Secondly, even when Ted was the manager, there was never really a threat that the guys would get caught shirking their work responsibilities. Chuck has always been better at reminding us the cost of leading a double life than this show has, mostly because the Work Bench seems to be so horribly mismanaged that there’s actually no cost to leading a double life at all. But I like Ted. So perhaps it’s better to have him back in the manager’s apron just because he’s funny, rather than Andi, who will maybe get to be a character again. Just seemed like a pretty contrived way to achieve that goal.

Other things:

  • Yes, it is supergay to bang a clone of yourself. And super narcissistic.
  • Jenny Wade looked so fucking skinny in that black crepe turtleneck tunic, and I can only applaud her for that. Bitch looked fierce.
  • Nina really hates wearing synthetic fabrics.
  • And apparently, Armie Hammer hates wearing clothes. Is he a Ken doll? Why hasn’t the CW shown me nearly-nude Armie Hammer before? I might have appreciated him more this way.
  • Lil Stevi’s pink beret? So fetch.
  • Barry Manilow is a polar bear.
  • “Morgan, you do not touch another man’s DVR. You might as well hump my grandma.” – Sock
  • “Look how happy I make them, injecting them with botulism!” – The Devil
  • “You know, I’ve got a guy who’d literally kill for Madonna tickets.” – The Devil

The Wife:

I’m a little disappointed that Sammy’s retaliatory act against The Devil/plan to get Satan’s dirty little secrets. Nothing about his attempt to seduce his hot, dead-eyed tutor in all things evil worked for me. And I think Andi was right to point out at the beginning of this that there was no need for her to be jealous because Sam’s not a seducer. This, of course, is supposed to be the joke, that Sam’s not very suave with the ladies (remember how long it took him to ask out Andi when she actually had a personality and allure?), and that joke is somehow supposed to be made funnier by seeing Sam as a fish-out-of-water in slacks and a turtleneck, but it wasn’t funny. And it wasn’t dramatic, either. In fact, save for the final scene in which The Devil has sent Sam in with a gun/vessel to send Sally back to Hell there was nothing at stake here to make me interested in this plot.

I also found it extremely strange that The Devil decided to make Sam seduce Sally in his stead. I know that I can’t rely on a conventional mythology of The Devil to be my guide for someone else’s mythic universe, but he is the fucking Devil. He insists that, “I don’t chase tail. Tail chases me.” In which case, wouldn’t it simply be easier for him to work his Devil magic and seduce Sally, making her fall head over heels in love with him and, in fact, chase after him? Wouldn’t that be more his style? After all, it’s not like he actually cares about love, so if he wanted to sleep with someone, there was no need to establish the contrived pretense that she, a demon bitch with crazy demon bitch claws, needed to be “saved” from a reaper by The Devil. In the end, he got to sleep with Sally anyway just because he bought her a very thoughtful vegetable steamer . . . which he could have just given her in the first place!

No, really, Ill sleep with anyone who buys me a kitchen appliance. Thats how I came by this KitchenAid stand mixer.

No, really, I'll sleep with anyone who buys me a kitchen appliance. That's how I came by this KitchenAid stand mixer.

So all we learned here is that The Devil has secrets, and that Sally is not going to be the person to divulge those secrets to Sam. And he needs something more than a contest to beat The Devil now that Alan Townsend has been sent back to Hell for sinning so hard in Vegas that he was “back in Hell before Carrot Top hit the stage.” And what’s more, I endured 42 minutes of Sam in turtlenecks (which are oh-so-wrong on Bret Harrison, by the way) for one brief scene that’s actually moving the story forward, tacked on at the end when Sam finds an old vessel in the back of the Work Bench (or makes a new one? if so, how?) and sends his father back to Hell with Ted’s lost cell phone so that, rather than living in a freezer in Sock’s garage, Mr. Oliver can help his son get out of his contract from the “inside” by tracking down Alan Townsend. I wish more time had been spent on Sam’s relationship with his Zombie Dad rather than his inane pissing contest with The Devil because then I might have believed Sam’s habituation and tension at having to banish his undead father to Hell. With only a brief scene in which Sam’s dad sets up the Internet so he can try to have a somewhat normal life, and a subsequent scene in which he realized that was no life at all and he’d rather be in the Underworld helping his son, there was nothing to ground that final scene and contextualize Sam’s emotional state.

As for the B-story, Nina tortures and harasses Ben so Sock steps in to protect his friend from psycho demon ex-girlfriend, and Nina plays demon tricks with Sock’s dreams where she seduces him and rips out his heart. Sock becomes set on destroying Nina’s lair and driving her out of town so she can’t hurt him or Ben anymore, but she realizes she’s being a dick and tries to apologize. Even though Sock won’t let her speak to Ben, seeing her is enough for him and by the time they go to destroy Nina’s lair, Ben is ready to get back together with her and does . . . as Sock accidentally burns the place down. I enjoyed watching Nina torture Ben far more than anything that occurred in the A-story.

I appreciate the attempt to get away from the Soul of the Week format, but the seduction stories just didn’t make any sense to me. It did, however, provide one excellent line from The Devil that I’ll leave you with:

“I am the Dark Lord of asses!”

The Wife:

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.

Therell be no saving of last dances now, sir! Not at all!

There'll be no saving of last dances now, sir! Not at all!

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.

Funny things:

  • 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

The Husband:

I know, I found Observe and Report to be very upsetting, too.

I know, I found Observe and Report to be very upsetting, too.

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!

The Wife:

Sadly, Armie Hammer was back on Reaper this week, but Morgan was utilized so well that I wasn’t totally in hate with Monsieur Hammer’s typical scenery-chewing. (I don’t mean that in the Pacino way that he acts big; I mean his teeth are so white and gleaming that whenever he talks it looks like he’s eating the world around him.) He pops up to pay little brother Sam to catch a soul for him so that he’ll look good for daddy, something Sam ultimately screws up because he, Sock and Ben taking a shining to the soul, a young kid like themselves who, sadly, died a virgin. Poor Billy was hit by a truck whilst being “covetous” of an older woman, and that was enough to damn him to hell. His entire mission post-escape is simply to be with the woman he’d died while coveting, now a divorcée. And so the boys agree to let him lose his virginity before they send him back to hell, helping him meet and hook up with the girl of his dreams.

But once Sam sees how happy Billy is with his older girlfriend, Sam talks the whole situation over with his Corpsicle Dad (who is totally happy to hang out in a freezer in the garage and appear to give fatherly advice where needed) and is inspired to try and capture another part of Billy and send that back to hell in his place. The gang heads out to dig up Billy’s corpse and peg it with the vessel (a very enticing red rubber dodgeball), which seems to work . . . only to find out that it doesn’t at all when the vessel gets rejected at the DMV. Morgan is furious with Sam for trying to pull the wool over his eyes and warns his little, less evil brother never to fleece him again. You know who else is furious? The Devil, who shows his displeasure with Sam by mentally hurling boxes from the Work Bench warehouse at him. Dodgebox, by the way, is way harder than dodgeball.

The Devil sends something called The Ender out to capture Billy, which will destroy his soul in a terrible and excruciating way. When Sam comes to warn Billy of this, he learns that Billy hasn’t actually had sex yet, and so Sam et al try to ward off The Ender for a little bit so Billy can achieve his goal before he dies. But as The Ender, a Death Eather-like figure, rises from the ground and zaps his way through doors and tables, he suddenly stops outside of Billy’s room and leaves. Ben’s theory? When Billy and his girlfriend consummated their relationship, because they were truly in love, their two souls became one, thus turning The Ender off Billy’s scent and saving his post-life . . . until Morgan comes around and beans Billy with another dodgeball, sending the newly devirginized soul straight back where it came from. Thus endeth another round of “Sam Tries to Beat The Devil and Fails.”

Thatll teach you to fuck with me and my giant suits!

That'll teach you to fuck with me and my giant suits!

That ending, btw, was a surprise, even though I should have known that The Devil always wins. Also a surprise? The fact that this show is actually getting rid of Kristen, thus ending the worst subplot ever! I had thought they weren’t going to when I noted at the beginning of the episode that the parents of Sock and Kristen had decided to move out of the house and get their own place (because that’s what one does when Washington State has a budget crisis; buy a second home and allow your son, daughter and their friends, rabbits and Corpsicle dads to live in your old home for free), thus allowing Sock to bring Kristen shower coffee and so on, only to have her resist again because, well, their parents could come visit anytime, thus making shower coffee no longer okay. Sock made an attempt during family portrait day to ingratiate himself to his stepdad, in the hopes that he’d officially let Sock date his stepsister . . . all of which goes horribly, horribly wrong when Sock grows so angry with his stepdad’s assertion that he is clownlike and not good enough for Kristen on their flyfishing trip that he decides, in no uncertain language, to admit that he’s been fucking his sister. Cue beating with fishing rods and Sock swimming away in the very cold waters of what I assume is Lake Washington. And after all this, Kristen is done with hotel and restaurant management school, so she’s going back to Japan, anyway, and has apparently learned things about herself from fucking her stepbrother. I’m just glad this plot is over, because it was excruciating and horrible to watch. And here this whole episode, I thought I was going to have to endure more of it. Thank you, surprise, contrived-as-hell ending!

As always this season, Ben and Nina are my favorite part of the show and to celebrate their very special two month anniversary (Nina: “Wow, two months ago I kidnapped you and forced you to be my boyfriend!”), Nina wants to share with Ben something very special to her – flying, which is very different than reverse cowgirl. I know my husband was surprised to hear a joke about a sexual position in an 8 p.m. primetime timeslot, but I think that joke was totally necessary to set up this very cheeky subversion of paradigms. There’s something truly great about Ben expecting that Nina wants to try a new sexual position, but actually proposing something far more extreme, something, in fact, that sensitive Ben is actually kind of afraid to do. I mean, it’s not like she asked him to eat a live llama with him, but there needed to be some resistance on Ben’s part to Nina’s demonness, and flying is that thing. While playing wingman for Billy, Ben meets a psychotherapist who helps him overcome his fear (and hits on him quite a bit), and so he returns to Nina ready to fully love himself and thus receive love (as if flying were the ultimate form of intimacy between a man and a demon). He comes to her with a “vision board” to remind him of why he’s awesome (my favorite bit of this is that he thinks he has great hair), and tells her he’s ready to fly with her, but when the time comes, he chickens out a little bit because he is, actually, just really afraid of flying. So, just like she did two months prior, she kidnaps him and forces him to work through his fear by actually flying with her. Pretty sweet, if you ask me, especially because he ends up totally loving it.

Next week, I look forward to getting back into the mytharc of this season as Sam and Andi chase down Allen Townsend, whom they encountered watching over Billy’s grave at episode’s end. I will take more of that over Kristen any day.

Other funny:


  • “I’m too upset for clothes, man.” – Sock
  • By the way, what the fuck are Tyler Labine’s tattoos? That one on his arm is crazy-looking!
  • “You know, in the old days, I used to get the souls who ate shrimp. You can imagine how unsatisfying that was.” – The Devil
  • “Eternity is such a long time for no pie.” – Billy, best double entendre ever
  • “This time there is no covet. There’s only love-it.” – Billy
  • The actor who played Billy, by the way, is Jake Sandvig, who has done some time on Veronica Mars, even though I, as usual, don’t remember him. (At least it wasn’t in that football episode I really don’t remember!) I liked him a lot in this role, and I will definitely remember him now. He was cute!
  • “I decorated with human furniture!” – Nina
  • Ben: Tomorrow night, for our special anniversary, you and me, we’re flying to the moon.
    Nina: Oh, baby . . . you would suffocate and freeze before we got there.

The Husband:

Perhaps you might know actor Jake Sandvig better from his role in Sky High as Lash, the bully with the Mr. Fantastic/Stretch Armstrong abilities. He was paired up with Speed, the large speedster played by young Will Harris, an actor who just happened to be in the USC production of Bat Boy: The Musical directed by my sister in the fall of 2005.

NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME DROP!

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