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'Reaper' recap: 'Unseen'

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Reaper_lReason No. 817 I love Reaper: Sock’s crystal bowling ball with the skull inside. Not only is this an indisputably cool prop, but it’s also an allusion to the orb wielded by Janeane Garofalo in the woefully underrated Mystery Men. Consultant Kevin Smith certainly knows his superhero movies, including ones about misfit groups of heroes who save the day despite their lack of useful villain-fighting skills. Kinda like Sam, Sock, and Ben, who elsewhere in last night’s episode likened themselves to Batman, Robin, and “that weird English butler.” Hilarious.

It’s good that the pop culture references were flying fast and furious, since plotwise, the episode kinda spun its wheels. Even though our soul-capturing trio tried to prove their maturity by moving out of their parents’ houses and getting their own apartment together, they clearly haven’t advanced much. For one thing, Sam and Andi are still not acknowledging what is now obvious to everyone else: that they have feelings for each other. Also, the boys fell back into childlike dependency as soon as they met their new neighbors, a gay couple named Steve and Tony (The State alumni Michael Ian Black, pictured, and Ken Marino) who were only too happy to cook for the guys and take them clothes-shopping. (It’s like living next to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, enthused Sock, before finally acknowledging that the boys have simply traded one set of parents for another. Oh, and Sam’s discovery at the end of the episode that the pair are actually demons, who use power sanders to file down the horns on their foreheads, also doesn’t bode well.)

Finally, Sam’s still not sure whether Cady is the Devil’s daughter or not. Sure, she makes glass shatter when she kisses Sam, she can make gutterballs roll back into the lane and become strikes, and she snores like a hellhound. Then again, the Devil flat out told Sam that she wasn’t his daughter (then again, he could have been lying), and when Sam looked at her through the see-the-true-face-of-evil glasses (another nice reference, to the alien-invaders movie They Live), he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. And her chat with Andi was a lot less psychotic than last week’s. Still, it wasn’t too mature of Sam to stop returning Cady’s phone calls, or to move into a new place without telling her. No wonder she wants to spend some time apart.

Not much to say about the escaped soul of the week, an invisible hunter who preyed on visitors to the wooded park he holes up in. The evil X-ray specs might have helped Sam capture him more easily, but he insisted on doing it on his own (that maturity thing again). His idea, involving paintball guns and motion detectors shoplifted from the Work Bench, was actually pretty clever, and it had the added benefit of playing a mean practical joke on manager Ted, who’d installed the security monitors to prevent the kind of shoplifting that’s become routine for our heroes. Pretty cool special effects: the polka-dotted, paint-speckled invisible killer, and the Magic Bullet blender with the flying propeller blade that was this week’s soul containment vessel.

Questions: Will Cady’s absence provide an opportunity for Sam and Andi to finally get together? And will Cady be literally mad as hell when she returns? Did we see altogether too much of Sock when he was sleeping and showering at a camping display at the Work Bench? (And was that scene another allusion, to the movie Where the Heart Is, where Natalie Portman takes up residence inside a Wal-Mart?) Will the guys’ new landlord give them any kind of rent discount for having to live next door to demons? And where’s Gladys? We haven’t been back to the DMV to see her for weeks.

Originally posted March 21 2008 — 3:53 PM EDT

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