You don't have to be psychic to know that the people involved in Psych, the Blue Sky-era comedy about a fake psychic detective solving murders in sunny Santa Barbara, understand what fans love about the show and its characters. And when it comes to crafting memorable follow-up films to the series, which wrapped up its eight-season run in 2014, they know all the right buttons to push to keep fans entertained while advancing the plot just enough for it to feel fresh and new and not like they're living in a Bruce Springsteen song.
If Psych's latest return feels familiar, it's because we've been here before. Twice, actually. But I will gladly watch Psych movies until the end of time if they're all as fun and subtly meaningful as the latest outing in the fan-favorite franchise. In Psych 3: This Is Gus, Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) and Burton "Gus" Guster (Dulé Hill) are back in action once more, this time attempting to track down Selene's (Jazmyn Simon) estranged husband (played by Heels' Allen Maldonado) so she can finalize her divorce and marry Gus before their child is born.
Like the first two movies, this latest adventure seeks to evolve the show's beloved characters and their long-term arcs in ways that feel true to the natural progression of their lives. This time, Gus' impending fatherhood — and what it means for Shawn and Juliet (Maggie Lawson) — puts everyone's favorite friend duo at a crossroads. It leads to rare moments of emotional vulnerability in between the ridiculous shenanigans that have been the bread and butter of Psych since Shawn first convinced Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson, who reprises the role again here) he was a psychic detective. Between more inspired fake names, ridiculous costumes, and several meta references to Peacock, USA Network, and Hill's run on the last few seasons of Suits, the movie has everything fans love. And that includes more screen time for Carlton Lassiter, aka "Lassie" (Timothy Omundson).
While Shawn and Gus are digging into Selene's past, Santa Barbara's chief of police is back at work after being shot and suffering a stroke in the second Psych movie. However, he's struggling to be the man he was before being left for dead, and he's worried about being ousted from his position since his recovery has plateaued. Omundson has been public about his experience since suffering a massive stroke in 2017, which left him unable to participate in the first movie beyond a cameo. Seeing series creator Steve Franks and Rodriguez — who co-wrote the film — continue to find meaningful ways to work the actor's real-life recovery into subsequent Psych storylines is heartwarming. It also leads to some quiet, rewarding moments between Lassiter and Shawn's father, Henry (Corbin Bernsen), who's been helping Lassie in more ways than one since Shawn and Gus are still living hours away in San Francisco.
While the mystery at the center of the film is not the most memorable — Shawn and Gus realize Selene hasn't been completely honest with Gus about who she is, and things spiral from there — I'd argue it doesn't matter. And I think Franks and Rodriguez both know it, too, though I can't say why without crossing into spoiler territory. So here's what I will say: Psych was built around Shawn and Gus solving mysteries using the former's impressive memory and powers of deduction, but the mysteries of the week were not what turned the series into must-see TV or kept fans watching across eight seasons and multiple movies. It was the friendship and camaraderie between Shawn and Gus, and the men and women in their immediate circle, that made the franchise what it was — what it still is today. The undeniable chemistry between Rodriguez and Hill still anchors this story, so it's OK that the mystery at the heart of Psych 3: This Is Gus isn't terribly memorable, because it's not what fans care most about.
Still, one has to wonder how long the cast and creatives can keep this up. At some point, the zany antics that have defined Psych from the beginning could begin to border on far-fetched. I mean, Shawn and Gus probably won't be donning disguises and breaking into buildings in their old age (unless, of course, someone is murdered at their assisted living facility where they have adjoining apartments and they go full Only Murders in the Building). But as the third movie proves, we're not there yet, and there is still life left in this franchise. There are still stories to be told and laughs to be had as Shawn and Gus continue to feel their way through various milestones of adulthood. So as long as room exists for these characters to grow and mature, and as long as the Psych gang still wants to reunite and film a new movie every few years, there's no reason to believe they shouldn't. And there's no reason to believe Psych-Os won't continue to show up every time they do.
TV Guide Rating: 4.5/5
Psych 3: This Is Gus is now streaming on Peacock.