Mr. Yang - Psych - USA Network
I haven’t been a Psych fan for very long. I haven’t even caught up at this point. But I made sure to watch the episodes with Mr. Yang, and she has already become one of my absolute favorite TV villains of all time.
When I started watching the first episode featuring the “Yin-Yang Serial Killer,” I prepared myself for yet another Riddler rip-off. It turned out to be a tad scarier than that, or at least I thought so. Mr. Yang lives for the game and the story told within the game. She loves messing with peoples’ minds. When it is said that she targets someone, the target is not the murder victim—it’s the detective in charge of the case, for whom she tailors all her clues. It’s not about winning or losing, but the wild ride on the way there. Interestingly, she doesn’t pick Shawn as her target out of a sense of hatred (revenge?) or pride (he is the greatest at what he does, so I must defeat him!), but because she genuinely admires and even loves him and thinks this will make for the best game possible. At the culmination of “An Evening with Mr. Yang,” set at a drive-in movie theater, she says the most astonishing thing, paraphrased here.
“You know what I love about this movie? It has a good ending. A satisfying resolution. Now, this story that you and I have created together so beautifully…you wanna know how it ends? Or do you want it to be a surprise?”
She gives Shawn a toothy grin, fingering the detonator that could explode his mother, who sits just a few cars down
A lot of insane villains try to rip off the Joker, but Mr. Yang is completely original. She doesn’t murder out of a sense of malice. In fact, when Shawn refuses to play her game, she lets her current victim go unharmed—only to turn around and kidnap Shawn’s mother, solely to raise the stakes and recapture her target’s cooperation. No, she does this so she can make a compelling tale and write a book about it. After the first episode, she does. It ends up selling big while she chills in a padded cell. She doesn’t seem to mind the isolation, but she relishes Shawn’s visit in “Mr. Yin Presents,” leering and making an utterly shameless pass at him that lacks any sense of irony. It’s disturbing, in the way I like to be disturbed, that she is actually turned on by him. She’s charismatic and creepy, affable and evil, magnificently brilliant and torrentially crazy. But when we’re given the world from her perspective, we can see the logic. It’s not our logic, but it’s a logic. Even in her depravity, her character has rules, and the writers abide by them.
One of the most interesting things about her as a villain is her effect on our hero Shawn, who is generally immature and takes nothing seriously even if someone has a gun pointed at him. It’s rare for us to see him in a truly serious moment, and before he and Yang even come face to face, he has to designate Gus as the court jester for the episode. Otherwise, he loses focus and gets lost in the horror of the situation. Shawn lacks the emotional maturity and resilience to really be suited to having an archnemesis, which makes it absolutely perfect for him to have one forced on him. He buckles less when in physical danger than in emotional danger, and it’s very striking to see him go to that place. No one, not even a seasoned officer like Lassiter, is prepared for someone like Yang to target them. Shawn, in spite of his immaturity, does his best, forced to grow up temporarily and rethink his usual process of mucking about, goofing off, slinging about a few meaningless 80’s references, and eventually nailing the case to the wall. Yang has a profound effect of pulling the rug out from beneath him without even speaking a word to him.
I can’t wait till we meet Mr. Yin face to face the way we met Mr. Yang. I don’t imagine he’ll be as charming, since he’s supposed to be even more twisted than she is and they’re supposed to be opposites, but I can’t help but feel like we’ll know a little more about Mr. Yang once we’ve met Mr. Yin. Mostly, I want to see more of Yang—all 110 grinning batshit pounds of her glorious genius.
“This is why I chose you—my most admirable foe.”