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'Reaper' recap: 'The Leak'

Reaper_lFirst of all, thank heaven whoever for the timely renewal of Reaper. Guess that “Save Our Socks” campaign worked. Alas, the show won’t be back until midseason, so after next week’s finale, our heroes will be in, um, purgatory for about seven months. Still, at least we won’t be left hanging as far as mythology and plot twists that, as Bret Harrison (Sam) noted in his interview with me last week, are just now starting to pay off.

Soul of the week was a womanizing cad named Mike (Richard Burgi, for whom the part wasn’t much of a stretch, since he plays womanizing cad Karl, ex-husband of Teri Hatcher’s Susan, on Desperate Housewives), for whom part of the thrill of seduction is the chaos and destroyed lives he leaves in his wake. After all, Mike can seduce any woman — newly-engaged fiancées, new brides, wives who’ve been faithful for decades, and even demons. Which is how DMV demon Gladys (Christine Willes, center, with Harrison, left, and Tyler Labine) gets in deep trouble.

Now, as regular readers know, Gladys is one of my favorite semi-regular characters on this show, and last night, she got her juiciest storyline yet. Turns out the reason Mike kept escaping from hell, forcing Sam to have to capture him over and over (vessel was a Polaroid camera — remember those?) is that he’d won over the lonely Gladys, who kept freeing him instead of sending him on the pneumatic tube express to Hades. It took Sam and the Devil a while to figure out that Gladys was “The Leak” of this episode’s title, and her punishment was swift and humiliating. (Not just being sucked down into hell by a Beetlejuice-style giant worm bursting through the Work Bench parking lot, a horror/humor moment that would have been more effective if the previews last week hadn’t spoiled it, but also being betrayed, stabbed, and left for dead by Mike, leading Sam and the gang to dump her in a wheelbarrow and nearly bury her alive, face down. Awk-ward!) Still, it was fun to watch Gladys getting frisky with Mike or prickly with Andi (for whom she developed a grudging appreciation after Andi responded to her insults with a crack about Gladys’ demon horns).

Sam was able to persuade the Devil to pardon Gladys, not on the strength of his argument that mercy toward a wayward employee would boost the rest of his staff’s morale, but on the strength of his pleading, puppy-dog eyes. As Tony and his demon co-conspirators noticed (while Sam and Satan were bonding over turkey jerky), the Devil has been going suspiciously easy on Sam. Add to that the revelation that the missing pages in Sam’s voluminous contract concern the identity of his true father, and the demons came to the same conclusion that many viewers have over the past several weeks: that Sam’s actual dad may be Lucifer himself.

Questions: Why didn’t Tony recognize Gladys? Hadn’t he and Steve told Sam that they often played racquetball with her? Did anyone besides me recognize early that green card bride Sarah was going to con Ben out of his savings, go on the lam, and leave him to face jail time? (And how do you think he’ll get out of this mess? And aren’t you relieved anyway to see her out of the picture?) What loophole, if any, do you think the demons will find in Sam’s contract? Do you think Satan is Sam’s father? And who do you think will die in next week’s finale?

Originally posted May 14 2008 — 1:05 PM EDT

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