Cheech Marin guest stars in an a capella/gang-themed episode of Psych.
Singing with the Stars
This week's Psych begins with Gus's college a capella group "Blackapella" reuniting to pay tribute to community activist Deacon Jones (Cheech Marin); Shawn fills in. The performance goes well--assuming they did their own singing, James Roday and DulÃ© Hill boast impressive vocal chops--but at the conclusion of their performance, Shawn's appendix bursts. He pulls through, but the deacon is shot in his absence. Shawn is forced to stay sidelined, while Gus investigates the case with groupmates Drake and Tony (Jaleel White).
Being natives of the community themselves, Tony and Drake posit that the shooting may be gang-related, which is confirmed by intel from Lassiter's incarcerated girlfriend. It comes to light that Deacon Jones was embezzling money from his own charity, but only for the purpose of paying off gangs to let children leave the game. That leads the improvised singing mystery team to believe that a gang leader is behind the shooting.
That theory is blown away, however, when a police shootout with the gang leads to a high-level gang operative exploding from a car bomb. Turns out that the deacon was actually shot by a seemingly legitimate security salesman trying to raise conflict to support his business--When the Deacon started cleaning up the neighborhood, the security man could no longer feed his family. He tries to murder Shawn and the Deacon, upping their morphine levels to fatal levels. Fortunately, Shawn's pain meds have been replaced with a glucose drip--Shawn doesn't have medical insurance, and his dad isn't paying for anything other than placebo juice. Shawn manages to take the culprit by surprise, and Blackapella sings a celebratory gig at the prison.
While last week's excellent episode basically nailed everything that Psych does well, this week unfortunately seemed to encapsulate many things that the series typically struggles with. One thing that didn't really work were the loud, prolonged, "these are jokes!" moments: Shawn's shtick about his critically vital appendix and Drake's extended offers to testify against Tony were both fairly egregious examples of this.
Another problem was the somewhat awkward racial humor: the broad black music references, the clownish characterization of Drake and Shawn's unprovoked "black" voice were all pretty cringe-inducing; it definitely felt like a bunch of white writers who were reaching beyond their cultural grasp, with unfortunately vague "these are black characters!" results. Those complaints aside, Cheech Marin's goofy take on the effects of morphine elevates the episode single-handedly, and the device of keeping Shawn present via iPad was reasonably clever. Hopefully Psych will play more toward its strengths next week.
"Come put a baby in me."-- Shawn, on Jules's potency
"Maybe she'll shoot Gus ten times."-- Drake, on the best case scenario when facing ten rounds
"You're in a hospital Jimmy, you can't just be shootin' dudes."-- Shawn, accurately summing up the situation
"Think about the community, and the kids ... and the cats that hang out behind the building with the kittens..."-- Deacon Jones, under the influence of morphine