When Mayor Channing turns up dead in a surfing accident, Shawn suspects that the death was a homicide. He enters the political arena as a stop-gap measure to prevent Lt. Mayor Swaggerty from gaining power and declaring the death a shut case. Unfortunately his ruse turns serious when his campaign picks up steam thanks to ruthless manager (and ex advisor to Channing) Jason Straub. Can Shawn win Juliet’s heart again, find Mayor Channing’s killer, avoid alienating his now-deposed campaign manager Gus and survive his shot at gubernatorial popularity?
“The Santabarbarian Candidate” is another Psych episode that’s comprised of strong parts that don’t coalesce into a single great whole. Large portions of it are, in fact, hilarious, specifically Swaggerty’s campaign ads, which compares Shawn’s candidacy to every conceivable bad thing in the history of human existence, including second hand smoke and oil spills. The friendly chemistry between Gus and Shawn is gangbusters in this episode, and the conflict between them a lot of fun and unique from a plot perspective. Also strong and interesting is the conflict between Shawn and Juliet, which persists in being both realistic and stubbornly honest about the toll a lie like Shawn’s would take on a relationship like theirs.
Yet it stubbornly refuses to become a perfect episode, mostly because of the weakness of the show’s central mystery. It’s fairly obvious from the beginning that one of the minor characters is the guilty party, even as they try to throw red herrings in our pathway. By the time we get to the semi-pointless final twist, the mystery has turned confusing and beyond following. I would have preferred watching Shawn run for office on one of his childish whims, with the fall-out focusing on the characters at the station.
Indeed, the show’s other brilliant moment features Lassiter’s reaction to the idea of Mayor Shawn. Pages of conflict could be wrung from the idea of Lassiter protesting Shawn’s inept run for the Governor’s seat, and it’s an opportunity tragically lost as the episode tries to stuff several asides into the already over-packed mystery plot.
“The Santabarbarian Candidate” moves the series forward a step…while taking a curious step or two backward in character development. It was a return to the funny and quirky but it sadly sacrificed a bit of emotion on the way out. It will be interesting to see how and if Shawn ultimately wins back Juliet’s heart, because at the moment he’s still unworthy of her love, in spite of her brave and incredibly loving gesture toward him near the close of the episode.
- * It’s interesting that Shawn has turned more toward his former, more immature, personality as the gap between he and Juliet closes, even as Juliet begs him to show some maturity.
- * Noteworthy gaffe: Shawn’s ridden on the back of a horse before, in High Noon-ish, which makes his sudden skittishness with the animal seem out of pace.
- * And no, this isn’t the first time Dule Hill’s memorable role in Disney’s Holes has been referenced. Remember Shawn talking about “That Movie with Shia LeBouff”?
- * Juliet and Shawn’s relationship continues to linger in an awkward position, though some headway is made between them.
- * American Duos is once again referenced; that is, of course, the reality show that Shawn and Gus competed on in season 2.
- * As much as I complain about how ill-used Timothy Omundson was in this episode, he has another great moment where he informs Shawn that his opponent has released another attack ad that impugns Shawn for having a “foot fetish”.
- * And thus we come to the meat of this season’s conflict: will Shawn be forced to confess his true identity as a non-psychic to Chief Vick? Next week’s episode gives us no clues: “Office Space” concerns Gus and Shawn’s frantic battle to cover Gus’ tracks after he accidentally contaminates a crime scene…that of his boss’ murder.