Psych "Right Turn or Left for Dead" Review: Eternal Sunshine of Shawn Spencer's Mind

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Psych S07E08: "Right Turn or Left for Dead"

Shawn and Juliet's break-up in last week's episode felt like open-heart surgery without anesthesia. This week, we relived that painful procedure—with some bonus electric shock therapy.

The mind-bending "Right Turn or Left for Dead" paid tribute to altered-reality thrillers (like the recent Side Effects and Trance): Shawn, suffering from a concussion, concocted an alternate timeline that not only saved his relationship but helped him identify a killer.

The "right turn universe"—where Shawn and Juliet rode home together from the wedding—was a happy place, where Lassie toted around a puppy and Juliet and Shawn's only argument was about who loves the other more. They never fought, because he warmed her with the chief's pashmina instead of his coat—where she found "proof" that he'd been lying to her about his psychic abilities.

Like Detective Britten in NBC's procedural fantasy drama Awake, Shawn essentially solved the same crime in two different "realities."  In his dream state, he had some extra help from Lassie Jr.—the rescued basset hound he and Juliet gave to the pooch's namesake as a wedding present. And in that dream state, the real killer, a young Swedish woman with "dope shoes" named Elin, was a corpse. 

In a way, Elin was a victim in both storylines: Abused by her stepfather in Sweden, she'd fled to Santa Barbara, where she worked as an au pair. (Her employer's "acerbic manner" rankled the crimefighters in both universes.)  

And in fact, Shawn first believed that Elin was the intended prey of another murderer. Cabbing it solo (sob) after the wedding, he hit his head when the driver suddenly braked to avoid hitting an injured woman in the road. En route to the hospital, she muttered one phrase before passing out: "beef log." But she wasn't referring to a "bratwurst (or) possibly a salami chub"; she'd actually said the Swedish word for "creek," where the detectives (or Lassie Jr., in Shawn's dream) found the body of her "boyfriend."

Real Shawn guided the SBPD to more bodies and more clues, with Mean Juliet sneering at his every deduction. But because of his obvious skill, it was easy to believe his girl would eventually forgive him.

Shawn, however, wasn't exactly encouraged by his dad, who advised him to stall by "going Costanza." (Too bad Lloyd was exiled to the kitchen during most their convo. Jeffrey Tambor is just one more reason to hope Shawn and Juliet get married.)

When Juliet finally found Shawn at the office, she'd had a change of heart: "Maybe you were protecting me," she acknowledged. "If you are not psychic, you are a really good cop—maybe one of the best." Aww.

Correction: ARGH! Their reconciliation was just a dream, rudely interrupted by Mean Juliet. Instead of forgiving her deceitful but devoted boyfriend, she told him to move out.

This is definitely not a welcome outcome for fans of Psych's OTP (or, for that matter, fans of dogs—come home, Lassie Jr.!). But how much longer could Shawn have gone Costanza with the truth? Continuing the charade would be unfair to Juliet's character, and would've damaged her (well-earned) cred as a badass cop.

"Right Turn" was an exemplary episode—and not just because Shawn and Juliet's relationship received the reverence it deserves. Writer Carlos Jacott (a character actor who's appeared in two episodes of Psych—he's pictured below in "9 Lives"—and who also penned Season 6's "Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat") crafted a complex, intricately detailed plot that is rarely seen in this character-driven comedy.  

QUESTIONS & QUOTES

– Did "Right Turn" blow your own mind?

– Were you fooled by Shawn's reversal of fortune?

–  What's your favorite one-liner from the episode?

– "I love you more than Joanie loved Chachi, kids loved Trix and Bert loved Ernie. Allegedly. Suck on that!" (Juliet to Shawn's imagination)

– "My heart feels like wet toilet paper. It's so fragile, it's not even two plies, it's one ply, like school toilet paper." (Shawn to Gus)

– "First of all, I don't want a dog. And if I did, I'd want a man's dog like a shepherd or Rottweiler. I'd want a dog whose silhouette is used on Beware of Dog signs, I'd want Hooch, not this sad sack that's going to step on his own ears." (Lassie about his new son)

– "What's the matter, Spencer—your third eye blind?" (Lassie)

– "Can you and your stupid hair let us in?" (Lassie to suspect/victim)

– "It's raining men, so I said let's open the roof and stay in bed." (Woody)

– "How in the name of Max von Sydow's eyebrows do you know about it?" (Shawn re Gus's obscure Swedish sports fandom)

– "This here is my associate, Jonas Gustavsson." (Shawn, convincing a Swedish bartender that Gus was a pro hockey player)

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