Wednesday, March 10, 2010

James Roday Talks The Darker Turn Psych's Fourth Season Finale Takes...

"I don't want to pull the rug out from under our fans every week and slap them in the face with stuff, but this was the season finale, and it was the long-awaited return of Mr. Yang. Yeah, we kind of wanted to load in with as much stuff as we could. That's a fun way to end the season, I think," Psych's James Roday starts when discussing tonight's finale episode, "Mr. Yin." And for Roday, the airing comes with a lot at stake. Not only is he the star of the show but he directed the noir-style episode, an homage to famed (and one of his favorites) director Alfred Hitchcock, as well.

"[Psycho] is the original jaw dropping twist [film] that sort of set everything else in motion. I love that movie; Anthony Perkins is fantastic, and it is shot amazingly. Yeah, that would be my number one!" Roday, talks about not only his favorite Hitchcock film but his favorite scary movie in general. Therefore, he was super psyched (please excuse the bad pun) about the 82nd Academy Awards featuring not only his series guest star Ally Sheedy in a John Hughes tribute but also a horror film montage tribute.

Psych is a show known for its quirky characters (Roday equates his to Peter Pan or Huck Finn, saying "I don't know many people like him; he doesn't think a whole lot before he does stuff, so I try not to think a whole lot before I do stuff!") and comedic sensibility but stepping into a different genre is not completely new for them, either. Roday says one of the past episodes he is most fond of is the one when they crossed into telenovela territory ("Lights, Camera, Homicidio"). Obviously, though, this episode will climb the rungs into his top favorites, as well, for all of its references to past Hitchcock projects. It will make a fun drinking game to see if you can spot them all!

This is not Roday's first foray into directing, as he directed episodes of the series last season, as well, and he admits that he did not try to emulate Hitchcock's directing style with this new episode. "The entire movie was in Hitchcock's head before he stepped onto set and never once did anything change," Roday laughs. "And that's the most impossible thing in the world for me to believe because something must have fallen over once or exploded or something. We're a TV show on a seven-day schedule, and if you want to make someone laugh, come in with a plan...but you learn very quickly that if you get two or three or even four of the things right or at least close to what you had in your head, you've succeeded...Everything else you're just rolling with the punches and collaborating like crazy!"

Now, in this episode, Sheedy's character is locked up but the bodies are still piling up, leaving behind cryptic puzzle-like clues as to how to catch the killer before he strikes again. Without giving away any spoilers, Roday admits that there are no real overt clues as to the true identity of Mr. Yin but for a final moment just before closing credits where we see him in his home touching a very specific photo on his table. "We're still sort of working that out ourselves, but we'll do our best-- once we decide to finally come clean-- not to make it one of those things where retrospectively it's like, 'Well, that couldn't have been possible!'" He has worked hard to keep it pretty ambiguous, though, so far, so Roday is feeling confident they haven't backed themselves into any corners...yet.

Early inceptions of this character were prevalent in the first season, but this so-called "end" of the arc has been a long time coming for Roday! "We sort of had delusions of grandeur that it would be fun to do a trilogy within the landscape of Psych...We did the first one and it kind of went over like gangbusters and Ally was a huge part of the campaign to keep it going because she did such a marvelous job with the character, we said 'How can you not want more of that!?'" Perhaps as a testament to Sheedy's powerful star turn performance, then, tonight's episode will end with a cliffhanger, signifying this Yin and Yang arc is much more than just the simple three-episode trilogy it started out intending to be. When pressed about what's to come in season five, Roday simply states: "I think it's fair to say we have not seen the last of [Ally]!"

Sheedy credits Roday as a director for making her feel extra comfortable on the set of the finale episode, allowing her to play around with choices. "Everybody is so whacked out, and it's so extreme that I feel like I'm not in the middle of some very serious, true to life drama where I have to pull out all of these details about how serial killer would really behave. I just get to sort of swing out there and wing it!"

"We started thinking about the second Yang [episode] the day after the first one aired and everyone was so pumped about it," Roday recalls. "And we have not stopped thinking about it since because we still have more work to do!"

The season finale of Psych airs tonight on USA.

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