When the mayor (Sebastian Spence) dies of an apparent surfing accident Shawn (James Roday), suspecting the man was murdered by the man’s replacement (John Kapelos) to push through land deal worth millions, decides to run for office to stop the city councilman from taking office before Shawn and Gus (Dulé Hill) can prove the man is a murderer. With the help of Gus and the former mayor’s assistant (Neil Grayston) Shawn begins a bizarre campaign that might actually win him the office leading Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Henry (Corbin Bernsen) to fear the worst for themselves and the city of Santa Barbara.
After discovering that his leading suspect isn’t the murderer Shawn enlists Gus to help him find a way to throw the election through a series of disturbing commercials while the psychic turns his attention to other suspects including the mayor’s widow (Laura Soltis) and the man’s plumber (Darren Daurie). Although neither turn out to be the killer, the investigation of the plumber leads Shawn to solve not one but two murders and discover why the murder victim’s assistant was so invested in making sure Shawn won the election.
The episode’s B-story centers around an ultimatum from Juliet (Maggie Lawson) who promises to forgives Shawn only if he comes clean with Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson). Initially declining, Shawn decides to go through with the admission which, thankfully for both of them, his ex-girlfriend intervenes before he gets a little too truthful. Although the couple aren’t quite back together, Shawn and Juliet do finally find some common ground and the future for Santa Barbara’s cutest couple looks promising once again.
Despite the absurdity of the episode’s premise, or maybe because of it, “Santa Barbarian Candidate” has some terrific moments and snappy dialogue that delivers some of the season’s best one-liners (and even a West Wing reference for Hill). I find it hard to believe Shawn ever had a legitimate chance to win the office, but the set-up allows Gus to go all out to tank his friend’s campaign in several amusing ways.