‘Psych’ 5.12 Recap: Who Killed Paula Merral?

Considering the number of shows that I follow regularly, I was surprised to find that the TV event of the year actually came from one series I only bother to catch occasionally. Last week, the wonderful goofballs in charge of ‘Psych’ staged a ‘Twin Peaks’ reunion. All I can say is: WOW BOB WOW!

I have to be honest; when I first saw the ads for a ‘Twin Peaks’ reunion, I assumed that maybe two or three of that show’s actors happened to be making appearances in a regular episode of ‘Psych’. Ray Wise has been on before, and a number of the other cast members continue to actively work in television. Little did I know that the episode, none-too-subtly titled ‘Dual Spires’, would in fact be a full-blown fan tribute to ‘Peaks’. And let me tell you, it is glorious.

The action starts when Shawn and Gus receive a mysterious email luring them to the secluded town of Dual Spires with the promises of a missing person investigation and (more importantly) a Cinnamon Festival. This place is so off-the-beaten-path that it has no internet service (begging the question of who sent the email), cell phone coverage is limited to a one-square-foot area, and (as Gus points out) the locals have never seen a black man. Soon after they arrive, missing prom queen Paula Merral’s body turns up, wrapped in plastic.

The details of the case are about as important as the details of any ‘Psych’ case, which is to say not at all. What’s important here is that the episode is chocked full of ‘Twin Peaks’ cast members. It has a bunch of major players like Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs) and Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer herself). Catherine Coulson even pops in briefly to seemingly reprise her role as the Log Lady. More than that, the casting goes even deeper to obscure roles like Lenny von Dohlen (Harold the shut-in) and Robyn Lively (the gold-digging sexpot Lana Milford).

I’m a little disappointed at the absence of a few of the big names like Kyle MacLachlan, Piper Laurie, or Grace Zabriskie. (And what the hell is James Marshall doing these days that he’s too busy to stop by?) But those are all forgivable.

‘Peaks’ references are everywhere, proving that this episode was not written by just any casual fans. The first scene starts with Shawn reading online about silent window shades. The email comes from an address with the domain name underthenail.com. The town has a newspaper called the Great Northern. The sheriff is named after a former U.S. President (in this case, Andrew Jackson). Another important character is named Bob. The victim’s name is an anagram of “Laura Palmer.” Sherilyn Fenn’s character talks about how much she likes cherries. Ray Wise’s hair turns gray overnight. Dialogue about cinnamon pie and piping hot apple cider winkingly substitute for cherry pie and coffee. Other shout-outs include: the sawmill, owls (one named Leo), prolonged scenes of crying, a white horse, a donut spread in the police station, a myna bird, ceiling fans, a book written by an “Earl Wyndam,” a crazy old guy who acts like the giant hotel waiter, and a secret diary.

The episode’s music is a direct parody of Angelo Badalamenti’s famous score. A bicycle chase scene is played to a Chris Isaak song. Perhaps best of all, Julee Cruise sings the ‘Psych’ theme song!

The final scene really goes for broke with references to Nadine’s eye patch, a jukebox, crazy dancing, and the high school quarterback barking like a dog all at once. It’s sublime.

I suppose that if you aren’t a ‘Twin Peaks’ fan – certainly not an obsessive ‘Twin Peaks’ fan – you might have no idea what this is all about. Even so, it’s a typically fun episode of ‘Psych’ with lots of snappy banter and amusing gags. (Andrew Jackson’s son is named Randy Jackson, and another character is named Bob Barker.) This is one DAMN FINE TV episode. I think I may need to watch it again right now.


  1. HuskerGuy

    Psych is on our “must watch” list every week and I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s episode despite having almost no knowledge of Twin Peaks. Kind of makes me wish I did, but I enjoy Sean and Gus’s antics regardless.

  2. BostonMA

    i had an hour and a half fbook chat with my good friend who loves Lynch as much as me, and he told me about this episode, and that i should watch it but, that was early on in the thorough convo and i completely forgot about it until now.

    starting it up right after posting this… 🙂

  3. BostonMA

    a pretty awesome throwback.

    i really loved the ending and the cherry comment made by Audrey, as well as the theme song, which is what i would call extreme dedication.

    i forgot how much i loved watching the series last summer..it really is an extremely smart and deep series, just one that has a small amount of annoying drag-up that brought it down a tad for me.

    still though, seeing this reunion really makes me want to revisit the entire show again.

    one thing i was a little disappointed with though was how they episode didn’t produce a shot of the wind blowing through the trees, which to me was one of the most signature small-things about Twin Peaks

    • Josh Zyber

      They missed a few things that I would have liked to see referenced, like the fish in the percolator, the smell of scorched oil, or forboding shots of electrical power lines. Was there a shot of a traffic light changing colors on an empty street? If so, I may have missed it.

      Still, I was very pleased with everything that they did get in, and have no serious disappointments with the episode.

      • BostonMA

        agreed. the changing colors of the streetlight is another big thing i wish they added. among other things, it homages my favorite American film of Classic Cinema; Vertigo.

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