Probably the last diabolic adventures for Sam and company
The Story So Far...
It's a real shame, because after watching these 13 episodes (which arrive just 14 days after the finale aired), it's clear the show really was something special. There was a definite gimmick to the series, with Sam getting a new soul to capture each week, which made it similar to also-cancelled My Name is Earl. But Reaper took the concept and characters they established in the first season and expanded upon it, adding new, interesting elements and taking the storyline in a natural, organic direction. While the idea might have been hard to maintain in future seasons, the way it was all pulled together here makes one think it could have gone on to something great.
Last season, Sam found out the man who sold his soul to the Devil was not his real father, as his real dad is the Devil. As the son of Satan, he was targeted for assassination by rebellious demons, and it ended in a season finale that set Sam up for more issues than his usual trouble with his girlfriend Andi (Missy Peregrym.) Coming back this season, Sam's been on the road with his pals Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzales), trying to run from his life. Of course, you can't run from the Devil, and soon he's back home, capturing souls and slacking off at his day job at The Work Bench. The whole "son of Satan" thing messes with his relationship with the Devil (brilliantly portrayed by Ray Wise) as Sam tries to take advantage of the situation, while the target on his back isn't going anywhere.
The story of Sam and his efforts to get his soul back from the Devil, which tie in to his relationship with Andi (whose role at The Work Bench takes a major turn,) is not the only tale to be told here, as he finds his ethics and morality questions on a weekly basis with each soul he faces, including a guy who wants to lose his virginity before being sent back to hell and a baby destined for evil. Challenged with these tasks by the Devil, Sam's capacity for evil seems to grow, putting him into direct conflict with Morgan, one of Satan's favorite sons, who's Sam's opposite: a smooth charmer with no motivation or character at all. Armie Hammer is perfect as Morgan, taking all the smoothness of Wise's iconic performance, but lacking all of the wit and charm that makes his Dark Lord the new prototype for the Devil on film or TV.
While Sock and Ben have certainly had their moments in the past, they take a much larger role in the show this season, and they even get relationships of their own, though, as expected, they are far from normal. Sock falls for his new Japanese step-sister Kristen (J-pop star Eriko), while Ben gets swept into a rocky romance with Nina, a demon who recently tried to kill Sam. It's in these couples that these guys really shine, especially Ben, whose troubled inter-realm coupling results in some great, ridiculous dates, though Eriko adds some fantastic eyecandy to the series (and Jenny Wade is beautiful too.) As Sock, Labine is an incredible, goofy force to behold, one of the all-time great sidekicks, while Rodriguez's underrated role as Ben helps ground the series, especially the out-there thing with Nina, which walks a fine line between adorable and cartoony. Their relationship with each other is also a frequent source of laughs, as there's a touch of the homoerotic love found in any good, tight male friendship.
In working through these 13 episodes, it was easy to remember what got me hooked on the show, especially when Ken Marino and Michael Ian Black return as gay, renegade demons out to take down the Devil, but it's also a series that's evolved and improved over its two seasons. The only real negative that may stick in the craws of those who enjoy the show is the finale, which tries to both wrap things up (partially), while keeping the story open for a third season. If this is truly the end, it's a rather disappointing finish, as there are plenty of questions to be answered and none of the closure needed from a series with such strong characterization.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound doesn't offer up the most powerful presentation you've heard, for the most part, as the show is mostly dialogue, which comes forth from the center channel. The score, soundtrack music and any powerful sound effects are cleanly separated into the side and rear speakers, but that's not going to catch the ear of most viewers.
The other extras are the same kind as Season One's, with deleted scenes and a gag reel included. The four deleted scenes don't reveal much and seem to have been cut for time, with two extensions of scenes in the show and two with info that was revealed inanother, later scene. The eight-minute gag reel is cute, with Wise and Labine offering the best screw-ups, especially Wise, as you rarely see the Devil flub a line.
The Bottom Line