REVIEW: ‘Psych 2: Lassie Come Home’ (2020) Has Matured, But Not Too Much

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“A resounding success because it is so clearly made with tremendous love and care. It’s a love letter”

The most magical thing about USA Network’s hit series Psych, which first aired from 2006 to 2014, is its ability to make its audience a part of the joke.  On the surface, it’s an engaging, non-traditional procedural about a fake psychic detective and his adolescent antics but really, it’s about two wildly codependent grown men (James Roday Rodriguez and Dulé Hill) and their uncanny ability to bring all of the best parts of childhood into the present. Psych provides a warm welcome into what would otherwise be the world’s most impenetrable friendship, and it’s that feeling of being right alongside them—responsibilities be damned—that makes the show so endlessly watchable. Within minutes of reappearing on-screen in Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, Shawn Spencer (Roday Rodriguez), true to form, invites the audience right back into the fold: “Gus, don’t be the night your dad fell asleep inside your mom. We can’t just stop doing the bits we’ve been doing for ten years! We have fans, they have expectations. There’ll be a huge backlash.” The game, as they say, is afoot.

Three years after Shawn Spencer and Burton ‘Gus’ Guster (Hill) brought their fake-psychic shenanigans to San Francisco in Psych: The Movie, they’ve finally returned home to Santa Barbara. For long-time fans of Psych, the trip is long overdue, complete only with the return of the beloved curmudgeonly detective—now Chief of Police—Carlton ‘Lassie’ Lassiter, played by Timothy Omundson, who was prevented from appearing in the previous movie after suffering a major stroke. As the film opens, Lassie, like Omundson, is in recovery after being shot during the course of an investigation. He’s suffering from visions and hallucinations, and calls Shawn and Gus down from San Francisco to help him figure out how and if they relate to his shooting. The duo quickly discover that Lassie is as sharp as ever, and their search for justice begins.  

Roday Rodriguez and Hill as Shawn and Gus, lying on the ground dressed in fur coats and motorcycle helmets.
Image courtesy of Peacock

The mysteries of Psych have never erred towards realism, and although they are the main premise of the show, they’ve never been its most compelling facet. Lassie Come Home gets that, and as a result, it is a much stronger entry than its predecessor. It forgoes yet another meditation on Shawn’s ever-present growing pains in favor of focusing on his dedication to his friends and family, and in doing so, manages to be a pitch-perfect continuation of Psych’s best elements and an absolute joy to watch. Roday Rodriguez and Hill play Shawn and Gus like they never stopped, their comedic pacing quick and satisfying as ever, each “C’mon son” and “This is my partner…” delivered with delightful gusto. Familiar favorites make appearances, including Kurt Fuller as the questionably-qualified coroner Woody Strode and Jimmi Simpson as the ghost of Mary Lightly, a fellow investigator who, after his untimely death, occasionally appears to Shawn from beyond the grave.

But what makes the sequel so satisfying is not its giddy callbacks, or Shawn telling his father (Corbin Bernsen) not to watch This is Us because there’s another version of the show, “but newer” on ABC—a show that Roday Rodriguez himself stars in— or even the inevitable appearance of a pineapple; Psych 2 is a resounding success because it is so clearly made with tremendous love and care. It’s a love letter, both to loyal fans and to Omundson, an open-hearted acknowledgement that Psych is not Psych without Lassie. Despite early efforts in the show to make Gus the grounding influence, Lassie has always been the true straight man in Psych, the one person who never really gave in to Shawn’s schemes, even as he grew to appreciate them. His absence in Psych: The Movie, though necessary, was glaring, and Lassie Come Home rejoices in his return while giving Omundson the space he needs to be comfortable. It’s easy to see the genuine emotion on his castmates’ faces as each character reunites, and it’s easy to experience those same emotions right alongside them. Long-time fans will thoroughly enjoy Lassie’s triumphant return and feel like they, too, are coming home.

Director: Steve Franks

Producers: James Roday Rodriguez, Dulé Hill, Steve Franks, Chris Henze, Kelly Kulchak, Chris Cheramie

Cast: James Roday Rodriguez, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen 

Release Date: July 15, 2020

Available on: Peacock

Featured Image Courtesy of Peacock