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Reaper: "Episode IV: A New Hope"

Illustration for article titled Reaper: "Episode IV: A New Hope"
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Hello there, Reaper fans! How the hell are you? Do you realize it’s been nearly 10 months since we last gathered here once a week to talk about our lil’ demon-slayer and his ragtag team of wisecracking buddies? I’m going to be honest: I’ve barely thought about Reaper since giving an A- to last season’s finale, “Cancun.” In fact, if it weren’t for The A.V. Club’s much improved search function—hey, we got a new website since we last met up!— I’d have no idea that I even wrote about Reaper last year. But apparently I did! So, here we are. I liked this show during its inaugural run of episodes, but I never quite embraced it. This was partly due to being convinced that it would not survive to see Season Two. Even for The CW, Reaper’s ratings were pretty terrible last season, and down here in the TV Club trenches, you learn not to get too attached to kids who seem too soft to make it. I also found myself being continually disappointed over the show not being quite as good as I thought it should be, especially after I went gaga over the pilot. But this is a new season with new possibilities, and while I’m a little fuzzy on where we left off, I’m ready to ride with Sam, Sock, and Ben—that’s their names, right?—once again.

Apparently the bright minds behind Reaper were also looking to ease rather than dive into a new season, as “Episode IV: A New Hope” was more about hanging out with the guys and fucking up demons then addressing the questions we were left with after “Cancun.” For instance, there was no mention of Sam’s parents or the fact that his father doesn’t appear to be actually dead. Sam actually is assuming at this point that The Devil—played by Ray Wise, who really is the awesomest dude on Earth—is his daddy, which provided the basis for a great scene where Wise talks about the thousands of children he’s sired over the years, and how they’ve all turned out to be duds. Again, Wise owns Reaper, even if he only appears in a few scenes. (I also loved the final scene, where his nice guy act was exposed for what it is: as a way to needle Sam. Once Sam acts like he wants to be bad, he turns cold.)

The episode began with the gang wrapping a month-long road trip down to Texas, and Sam realizing that the letter he wrote to Andi explaining where he was never got mailed by Sock. Ah, Sam-’n-Andi romantic tension! How I’ve not missed you! Andi spent most of the episode making angry faces at Sam, though they inevitably reconciled at the end. Thankfully, the demon-hunting was much more exciting, as The Devil made Sam hunt down not one, not two, but 40 psychopathic and muscle-bound souls at once with only a rechargeable cattle prod as his vessel. (Hey, there was no Gladys tonight! I wonder if she’s seeing someone.) Sam was convinced that The Devil might be trying to kill him, but he was actually able to dispatch the undead army with relative ease via electrocution-by-water. (This is also what killed Keith Relf of The Yardbirds, though I don’t think he was a demon.)

Anyway, the big development tonight was that Sam met a soul who seemingly was able to get out of his deal with The Devil and successfully escape Hell. Did he really do it? If he did do it, why can’t Sam? If Sam can do it, how will he find this guy? If you beat The Devil, doesn’t that you make the new Devil? Also, what about the loose ends from last season: Sam’s parents, the demon revolutionaries, the blasted contract. Looks like we have some catching up to do, dudes.

Grade: B.