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Reaper season two episode reviews

Reaper

Season 2, Episode 1. "A New Hope" Sam must capture 40 bad guys at once.

Great to see the show back. But this doesn't feel like a season premier. Or anything special. This could be any episode, really. Except for the fact that the boys have been away for four weeks, there is nothing to distinguish this from any other episode.

But that's not a flaw. Any normal episode of Reaper is a treat and this one sure is. The case-of-the-week has a nice twist and all of the scenes with the three guys are very funny.

Season 2, Episode 2. "Dirty Sexy Mongol" There's a mongol on the loose, and Ben meets a demon...

They've got a good story arc going (Andy) and they start up another good one (Ben). They have a solid case-of-the-week (which takes up very little screen time) and they have (wisely) made Andi a productive member of the team.

But Tyler Labine and the 'love story' between Sock and his 'sister' completely steals the episode. Eriko Tamura is a perfect match for him and their scenes are hilarious.

Season 2, Episode 3. "The Sweet Science" Boxer.

Usually, the case-of-the-week isn't very strong - or, indeed, very important - on Reaper. The show has settled into a groove where the characters, the comedy, the ongoing stories are the most important thing. But this week is an exception: the story of the boxer who escaped hell to win a title honestly was very good. Unlike all the other escapees on the show he wasn't out to kill people and he was basically a nice guy who, in his previous life, had given in to temptation.

I thought the dilemma that Sam faced with this case was great and I really enjoyed the ending (corny though it may have been).

Aside from the boxer storyline, this was one of the funniest ever episodes of Reaper. Jenny Wade was hilarious as Ben's new girlfriend, and The Devil at the AA meeting was priceless.

Best bit? The sub-plot where Sock created a fictional employee called Les Nessman. Wow. Les Nessman, huh? Reaper is the coolest show on TV.

Season 2, Episode 4. "The Favorite" Sam has to work with another son of The Devil.

Donavon Stinson gets several funny scenes and the show seems more like an ensemble show than ever before. Everyone has something important to do and it's usually very funny. Sam is still the main character, but he's not in every scene now and the cast are strong enough to carry the show even when Sam (and the show's premise) are not onscreen. Armie Hammer makes a great impression in his first episode.

Season 2, Episode 5. "I Want My Baby Back" Can Sam save a baby from the clutches of the Devil?

Another winner. With solid (and mostly funny) storylines for all of the characters this show is a real treat. Every story is fresh and unique to this show and the series has created a very distinct voice for itself in the television landscape.

Season 2, Episode 6. "Underbelly" is a lovely change-of-pace episode which finds the gang visiting a small town on the trail of a soul who inhabits the local mine. They encounter a very odd town Sheriff (always superb Stephen McHattie) and have lots of hilarious mis-adventures.

I've really been enjoying the character of Andi this season and her being part of the team. Until this episode, that is. At this point she gets very serious and turns majorly bitchy over the fact that Sam is the Son Of Satan and all that jazz. The episode ends with her breaking up with Sam. Meaning, of course, that she stops being a fun and interesting character and starts being exactly like the hundreds of unsupportive wife/girlfriend characters that TV loves to throw at us in the name of faux conflict.

Sigh.

It's boring and it's not real conflict. The guy is a frakkin' hero, and there is nobody at home who will agree with her. So, a boring story development and a guaranteed way to make viewers dislike Andi. Or in my case: dislike Andi again.

Sigh.

Season 2, Episode 7. "The Good Soil" The escaped soul, this week, isn't evil. Just a virgin who wants to have sex with a woman he coveted back in the 90s.

Another good case-of-the-week story and a lots of great scenes for the regulars. Even the Andi scenes were good, after last week's misjudged break-up.

I was surprised/disappointed to see Sock's step-sister being written out of the show. Surely there was lots more to do with that character/story?

Season 2, Episode 8. "The Home Stretch" The gang find Alan (who tells them how Sam can beat The Devil), Ben's grandmother doesn't like his new girlfriend (who is, let's face it, a demon), Morgan competes with Sam in his efforts to track an escaped soul and Sock crashes a funeral/memorial to chase a hot blonde (Collette Wolfe, from Observe And Report).

So, all in all, another superb episode of Reaper. The show is now officially an ensemble show, with an abundance of good stories for all the regulars and - more important - a high quota of very funny moments. Sam continues to be a likable hero, Andi has not morphed into an unsympathetic character (like I thought she would) and Sock is... hilarious, like he always was.

The show is completely driven by the characters, their stories and the jokes, and the case-of-the-week aspect takes a total backseat. In this episode, the escaped soul only appears twice in the whole episode.

Comedy Highlight? Anything involving Sock, basically. I loved his pursuit of the adorable Collette Wolfe and the scene where he and Ben pitched the self-sucking straw is one of the funniest things I have seen all week. A self-sucking straw! I love it.

Highlight? Reaper always manages to deliver amazing fight scenes, and the battle with the three escaped souls was no exception. Maybe the fight scenes on Reaper have more impact on me than the fights on other slicker shows because the rest of Reaper is so grounded in reality, that it comes as a big shock to the system to see Sam having to fight for his life, when ten minutes earlier he was having a beer and goofing off.

Season 2, Episode 9. "No Reaper Left Behind" The Devil sends Sam to a teacher, to teach him to be more evil. Sock tries to keep Nina away from Ben. Sam's Dad tries to make his life worth living...

Funny, with several great stories and lots of cool character stuff. Particularly for Andi. I thought they had ruined the character of Andi by making her break-up with Sam. I was wrong. She's continued to be in his corner, even though they broke up, and they've managed to give her lots of quality screentime.

The Alan story arc takes a great turn in this episode. Now that The Devil has gotten Alan back to Hell I assumed the story was over. Not so. The show comes up with a quirky twist: Sam's Dad goes to Hell to find Alan. Goofy or what? I mean, Hell has mobile phone coverage and everything. Great stuff.

Season 2, Episode 10. "My Brother's Reaper" Morgan moves in, and makes moves on Nina. The Devil gives Sam a job outside his job description, and Tony appears.

Two ongoing storylines reach completion in this episode. Morgan is killed. But is sure to reappear. And Ted gets Andi fired. I wasn't expecting either one. One had me shocked and the other had me in stitches.

This show is hilarious. Tyler Labine might well be the funniest guy on TV and the writers come up with fantastic material for him, week after week. The stripper clowns... OMG. Genius idea. Perfect Sock.

Ken Marino returns. Always good. But the show finds a wonderful way to bring the equally awesome Michael Ian Black back for a few scenes. How? Well, he communicates through Karaoke machine. Of course. Watching Michael Ian Black sing it up was a hoot. I kept hoping for more scenes of him singing. They really, really should make this a recurring feature on the show.

Then there was Michael Weaver. Seriously, this show is awesome. So, so funny. With great stories, too.

Season 2, Episode 11. "To Sprong, With Love" Sam and the gang must protect a former teacher they all hate from vengeful student recently returned from Hell. Ben prepares to fight a Demon who has an interest in Nina, and Sock becomes the store mascot.

This episode is more driven by the case-of-the-week than recent ones, but the COTW doesn't dominate the episode. Ben and Sock get strong storylines to themselves. The Ben storyline is funny but sweet and romantic, while the Sock tale is pure, unadulterated comedy gold. It ends with him in a brutal fist-fight with a sweet little ol' lady for frak sake. What's not to love?

The ending of this episode is wonderful. The gang sits in a bar together and Andi wonders if they are a bunch of losers. Sock gives a totally cool speech. A speech celebrating the ordinary-ness of these characters. Let's face it, despite being surrounded by Demons and super-powered evil foes on a weekly basis this is an average group of people. They are not like Buffy and her Scooby Gang. Or the sisters on Charmed. Or a million other heroes on a million other similar shows. The heroes on this show spend a lot of time in the local bar, drinking beer and talking about stuff that's going on in their lives. And the show's strength is it's ability to given equal weight to the ordinary/funny stuff of their daily lives while giving equal balance to the crazy stuff that happens in the a-plot every week.

Bret Harrison is a wonderful leading man. He's heroic and dashing like a TV hero, but he carries himself (in this show) like an ordinary schmuck. So it's easy to relate to him and - consequently - the crazy predicament he finds himself in.

Season 2, Episode 12. "Business Casualty" Sam goes corporate, and sends Nina to rescue his Dad from Hell. Meanwhile Sock has a chance to build the 'perfect' woman.

Another winner. There's no case-of-the-week at all. Rare for Reaper, but not unheard of. Instead, The Devil sends Sam into the world of Big Business and the show puts the sort of crazy twist on things that this show manages so well. Sam's disgruntled rival (Matt Champagne) is responsible for many big laughs. I especially loved the moment where (in the background) we see him take out his anger on a nearby bin.)

Sock, meanwhile, has a shot at dating a demon (Catherine Reitman) and asks her to morph her appearance into his 'ideal woman'. She agrees and he proceeds to amass data and images for her to work with/off.

The scene with Serinda Swan is particularly hilarious. Sock produces a measuring tape and starts taking notes on her face after he meets her in a bar. One of the funniest things I have ever seen.

Likewise, the exchange between Ben and Nina as she prepared to leave for Hell. Simply hilarious.

Reaper is pretty darn close to being the funniest show on TV.

Season 2, Episode 13. "The Devil & Sam Oliver" Sam challenges The Devil to a contest, Nina agrees to an exorcism.

The final episode of the season brings the simmering plotlines to a conclusion: Sam figures out how to beat The Devil, Andi comes to terms with his evil lineage and Ben and Nina's relationship faces a major crisis. While Sam, Ben and Sock are the main characters of the show it is their lady friends (Nina and Andi) who come best in this episode. Both are written as heroic, selfless and very much in love with the men in their lives.

The character of Andi has been very well written this season. I thought they were making a mistake when she broke up with Sam, but I was wrong. They kept her on the show and kept her as an asset to the team. Her sacrifice in this final episode was an excellent twist. You could see it coming, but it was still a dramatic turning point for the character. Nina, likewise, prepares to make a sacrifice for the man she loves. And, for a light hearted show, her exorcism was successfully scary/thrilling.

Ray Wise and Bret Harrison make a great team in every episode, but seeing them do their thing when their characters are duelling was fantastic. Some of the best moments in Reaper have been when Sam 'steps up' and acts like a hero, and this is no exception. Seeing him go head to head with his foe was thrilling.

Not that it worked.

But the final scene was a wonderful example of why this is such a wonderful and unique show. The team sits side by side, utterly defeated, yet they are happy. Happy in themselves and happy to keep trying.

Matters of evil and evil-doers are not as weighty on this show as they are on shows like Buffy. In this world, the hero always has time to for a beer with his friends and he holds down a mundane job and... he's pretty okay with his lot in life. Yes, there are few things he would fix (and, to his credit, tries to fix) but he just gets up and gets on with his life no matter what.

I loved the ending, and I love Andi for her reaction. Supportive and... likable.

And, if that has to be the last time we see these characters, I feel that (for all their problems) they are in a pretty good place and they will go on just fine.

Reaper has been cancelled, but the chances of it returning in syndication look very good.

3 comments:

catko said...

These are just awesome, I don't know how I missed them before. Totally agree on your take on Reaper. Thanks for helping the Save Reaper campaign and link to reaperdmv, too! I'm going to link to your reviews over there as well. Then it'll be like when you look in a mirror with a mirror behind you, endlessly repeating.

Love the Cut Lines From thing too, hilarious!

catko said...

Oops I just figured out you're "A Briefing With Michael" so I guess I'm commenting the same stuff everywhere, and following you on Twitter, too. Heh.

RikerDonegal said...

Thanks.

The idea of the cyber-mirror is cute, too :)

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