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Reviewed by Will Harris
hen the first season of “Reaper” wrapped up on The CW, there was every reason to suspect that there might not be a Season Two. Does that, however, excuse the show for feeling as though it was running in place as often as not during its second year?
Maybe that’s phrasing things a bit too harshly. After all, when reexamining “Reaper: Season Two” on DVD, there’s no question that the proceedings are still highly entertaining. Consider, however, the way the show evolved over the course of its first year and found its way into such a solid groove from the halfway point all the way to the season finale. There’s no such equivalent for Season Two. It starts strong enough, making us glad to see the gang back in action, but then it feels rather like it’s coasting along and never really shifts into overdrive.
There’s one strong storyline that really drives the season, and that belongs to Alan (Sean Patrick Thomas), one of the few people ever to successfully get out of a deal with the Devil. Sam’s (Bret Harrison) desperate to find out how Alan accomplished such a task, but while Alan feels his pain, the last thing he wants to do is find himself back on the Devil’s radar. Alan’s fear over the situation is palpable, and, well, you’ve seen the Devil. Can you really blame him? Another storyline that ended up working relatively well was the zombification of Sam’s dad. It was kind of a one-trick pony of a joke at first, but by the time Mr. Oliver decided that his son would be best served by sending him to Hell, it became downright sentimental.
Conversely, however, the second season concept that didn’t work nearly as well as the writers apparently felt that it would was the relationship between Sock (Tyler Labine) and his new stepsister, Kristen, played by Eriko Tamura. Yes, we know they’re not related by blood, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy. It was actually kind of funny as the season began, with Sock having to suffer through a longstanding case of blue balls as he restrained himself from acting on his carnal urges, but when the writers actually had them consumate the relationship, a sizable chunk of the viewership offered a collective shudder. On the other hand, however, our buddy Ben (Rick Gonzales) had an awesome romance with Nina (Jenny Wade), a demon from Hell who falls for the sweetest member of the trio. It’s great watching him overdo the lovey-dovey stuff with her, and the scenes where his highly religious grandmother questions their relationship were extremely funny. But then there’s Sam and Andi (Missy Peregrym). Their relationship was annoying last season, with his inability to tell her about his relationship with the Devil and the constant “will they? / won’t they?” thing between them, and it seemed like they were finally going to take it to the next level in Season Two. In the end, however, they basically just went back to the same situation.
We’d remiss, of course, if we didn’t mention the inestimable performance of Ray Wise as the Devil. Not to dismiss the show’s hard-working ensemble, but really, the man makes this show what it is. He’s both funny and terrifying, and the fact that he hasn’t received an Emmy nod for his work on “Reaper” is a crime. Wise also gets the fun in Season Two of working with the Devil’s son, Morgan (Armie Hammer), who’s a complete douchebag and refuses to believe that Sam isn’t out to steal away all of his rightful powers as Satan’s son. There are also considerable changes afoot at the Work Bench during the course of the season, with Ted (Donovan Stinson) getting fired and Andi being put in charge of the store.
Yes, we know: it does seem like quite a lot happened in Season Two. And a lot did happen. But there’s nothing to compare with the way Season One shook things up by bringing in Steve and Tony and showing the rebellion against the Devil. There’s a small attempt to revisit that at the end of the season, but it’s not the same.
The season finale – perhaps the series finale, depending on how talks go – really pissed a lot of people off with its non-conclusion. If there’s no more “Reaper,” however, I think it’s arguable that creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters offered up a spiritual conclusion, implying that, despite the amount of evil that’s been seen on the show to date, the good guys will eventually win. It’s not the best possible wrap-up of the series, nor is it even close to it, but at least it shuts the door optimistically.
Special Features: It’s still a mystery why one of the most entertaining casts on television has once again opted out of contributing audio commentaries to their DVD sets, but they’re absent. There’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series, but aside from some explanation of the special effects, it’s rather underwhelming. We do get a few deleted scenes and a blooper reel, but like the Season One set, you’re left feeling as though you should’ve gotten more.