'Reaper': Sam climbs the hellish corporate ladder

Bretharrison_reaper_290 Television loves to make "The Corporation" its go-to bad guy, and tonight " Reaper" took its own swipe at big business. With Sam plunked into a nice corner office, he gets the week off from catching souls as a well as way to contact his father in hell. While Sam's company life didn't take, he did receive a vital clue in breaking his deal with the Devil.

Given the Devil's varied and vested interest in all forms of human interaction, is it any surprise that he runs his own evil company? This particular doesn't produce microchips, microwaves, or microphones: it produces sin within its employees, which must be fun to explain at the yearly stockholders' meeting. The metaphor? Upper management are demons, making business decisions for the pure purpose of costing their employees their sanity and souls.

What Sam thinks is a cushy gig soon turns into a literally cutthroat environment where people literally kill and maim their way up the corporate ladder. However, at the top of said ladder is a prize that actually spurs Sam towards the first promotion of his life: a doorway to hell on the 75th floor, and by extension a way to contact his father. Turns out Mr. Oliver has a clue to help secure Sam's freedom from the Devil in the 3rd circle, so Sam convinces Nina to secure said message. (Apparently hell has a nasty habit of turning human flesh into human ash.)

But while she's there, Sam manages to get fired when the demonic CEO realizes Sam did NOT in fact kill his major business rival; he merely re-assembled said rival's model with packing tape and a sign that reads "Bentopia." In this company, such lack of treachery and abject bloodlust guarantees your walking papers, and thus no way to allow Nina's return from Hell. Luckily, even demonic CEOs need to stay in shape. While Sock keeps the CEO busy with a business plan to turn the Grand Canyon into a swimming pool, Sam and Ben manage to grab his access card to free Nina and flee from the rooftop.

She did not bring Mr. Oliver back with her, simply a sheet of blank parchment. She mentions a mysterious task that Sam's dad still has to perform down there, but the following day, she discovers ancient demon text revealed by throwing it into the flames of Sock's BBQ. So, with one episode to go in the season (and potential series), we're left with a linguistic riddle that, when solved, will put the Devil and Sam into a competition that will possibly liberate the latter from hellish servitude forever.

In this week's B-story: Nina and Ben try to set Sock up on a demonic demon date with...well, essentially a female Sock. Which, naturally, repels Sock to no small end. He makes up a lame excuse to ditch the setup, only to have her visit the Work Bench the following day with a proposal: if Sock presented his ideal female form, she would turn into that for him. Naturally, this was all a ruse to point out Sock's shallowness, but he wouldn't be Sock if he actually learned his lesson. Or, you know, actually contributed something meaningful to an episode this season.

Other tidbits from tonight:
  1. Nina and Ben's conversation about the trials and tribulations of shared baths and showers at the literal Gate to Hell had me on the floor, gasping for air. Ditto for the Devil's angry look when Sam didn't recognize his "afternoon suit."
  2. Too bad Morgan's already been disowned, because I would have LOVED an episode where he and Sam were pitted together as junior executives angling for a promotion. THAT would have been a stellar episode. Sigh. Missed opportunity.
  3. Did anyone else watch this episode while muttering, "I miss Wolfram and Hart," or was it just me?
  4. Who will help translate the text next week? The obvious choice seems Tony, but I am kinda hoping for a payoff on the whole Path of Steve business myself. Third option? The message can only be read by the Devil, and in trying to expose Sam, will be unable to resist the message written.
I'm glad we got payoff on Mr. Oliver's trip to hell, and the demonic text has potential, but when the show spends equal time on Sock photographing unsuspecting shoppers for his Voltron-esque hottie, it's easy to see where stricter mythological focus could have truly helped this season. By focusing as much on the romantic exploits of Sam's friends as much, if not more, than Sam's search for an escape clause from his fate, the show watered down its central conceit and thus the mythological richness buried just beneath the surface, dying to come out.

Let's hope that next week's finale goes out on the same high that Season 1 did.

Did you enjoy the office setting, or was it just another rehash of an overused television trope? What important task is Mr. Oliver still performing? And who will help Sam translate the text?