Episode Title: 'In for a Penny'
Writer: Todd Harthan
Director: Mel Damski
At SBPD, Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) briefs the detectives on a group of thieves behind an oxygen tank theft. Afterwards, Shawn (James Roday) asks Jules (Maggie Lawson) what she wants for her 30th birthday and he notices a greeting card on her desk. She tells him its from her father but that she wants nothing to do with him. Shawn tells Gus (Dule Hill) he plans to invite her father to her birthday party.
The boys sneak onto a private golf course where Shawn introduces him self to Jules' father, Frank (William Shatner). He invites them to his chateau and tells them over drinks that Jules won't talk to him. Shawn offers to help reunite the father and daughter. When he tells Jules about inviting Frank to the party, she angrily tells him that her father is a con man.
Shawn and Gus confront Frank about his profession but he insists he's changed. Shawn agrees to help him, after all. He and Gus bring Frank to the station where Lassie (Timothy Omundson) briefs the team on a prison break orchestrated by the same group of thieves who stole the oxygen tanks. Frank recognizes the escapee as a master safe cracker named Jimmy Fitz. He suggests the crooks are looking to make big score, soon.
Later that night, Jules calls Shawn to the scene of another crime. This time, the crew stole a safe containing legal papers. Shawn brings Frank along, informing Jules that he's hired him as an assistant. Frank theorizes that the team is after something privately owned. Shawn suggests checking out a local coin show after Gus tells him about it. The team meets with the show curator and learn he's hired a temporary electrician. After questioning the man, Jules discovers he was paid by someone for inside info on the expo.
The team stakes out the expo in a surveillance van. However, while the event is going on, the curator's off-site safe containing a penny worth two-million dollars is broken into and the penny stolen. After looking at surveillance shots from the depository, Shawn recognizes a tattoo on the neck of one of the crooks as the same one he saw at the golf course. He urges Frank, who admits to stealing the penny, to come clean.
The next day, the head of the band of thieves is brought in after SBPD found the penny on his nightstand. He denies stealing it, claiming someone broke in through the window to plant the stolen item. Jules then confronts her father, as he used to sneak into her room as a child to leave her gifts. He denies planting the penny and Jules tells him she wants nothing to do with him
Meanwhile, Shawn suspects that the crook, now released after his alibi checked out, is planning a job at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The team sets up shop in the van outside the venue. Frank stops by and explains to Jules that he didn't miss her childhood milestones, rather he watched from afar for fear of upsetting her. He then spots the fake radio station van the crooks are using. While the thieves break into the safe inside, Frank has Lassie get behind the wheel of their vacant van. When the crooks emerge and race inside their getaway vehicle, Lassie takes them straight to SBPD.
At Jules' birthday party, Shawn tells Frank he knows the penny in evidence is not the real one. Frank promises he's having someone replace it with the original that very moment.
"Psych" is known for scoring awesome guest stars and William Shatner surely fits that bill. I've taken issue with this show's misuse of its quirky guest stars in the past. Not the case here, as Shatner applied his irresistible charm in the role of Frank O'Hara, Jules' estranged con man father.
I love it when a procedural like "Psych" gives us some backstory on the characters, who can start to feel one-dimensional when they exist in an episodic vacuum. Though somewhat cliche, it's fitting that a sharp detective like Jules would be the product of a con artist father. It also explains Jules' no-nonsense approach to her work and her relationship with Shawn. And to that end, why she's dating Shawn, a con man of sorts himself, though unbeknownst to her.
Speaking of nonsense, James Roday and William Shatner had some nice comedic chemistry here. Both their characters found comfort in their constant complementing of each other, as Shawn continually struggles for his father's approval while Frank hoped to gain Juliet's. It made for some fun moments that also worked on a deeper character level. The chest bump outside the interrogation room was excellent.
Juliet's reluctant acceptance of her con man father is also something to think about, in light of the man she's currently dating. I originally imagined this episode ending in predictable fashion with Frank conning SBPD and skipping town, and Juliet hurt, for the last time, by her father.
Of course, that can't happen because for starters, it's too dark for 'Psych" and it would undermine the viewers faith in Shawn and Juliet's relationship. Lest we forget that Shawn, too, is a con man though he uses his powers for good, as they say. Thus, "In for a Penny" got me thinking about the day Jules learn what Shawn's all about. If that day ever comes, this excellent episode gives me hope for these two. I mentioned before that Juliet isn't aware that Shawn's pulling a fast one on SPBD, but now I'm not so sure. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!
Crave Online: 8.5 out of 10.