Mandi Bierly
April 11, 2009 AT 07:47 PM EDT

The TV guest spot is often used by film actors (or TV actors-turned-film actors) when they want to show range that they haven’t been able to display on the big screen. Hilary Duff’s turn as a black widow on last night’s Ghost Whisperer was just that. Did she succeed? It depends on what scene you watched: Her voice was still a little too mousy to convey real fear when she was being levitated in her apartment (next door to Eli’s) or left dangling off the side of a building. But, in the end, when she explained why she actually cared about this particular terminally ill cancer patient, who she’d tricked into believing that she was dying, too, so he’d leave her $250,000 for a last-hope treatment, I felt something. (Other than that she has truly fantastic hair, which I’d felt from her first moment onscreen.) When she got out the man’s ashes, I saw a woman — not the girl who gets me to watch A Cinderella Story every time it’s on cable. Duff will also guest star on the April 28 episode of Law & Order: SVU, playing the mother and prime suspect in the case of a missing two-year-old girl. Personally, I think this is a better way to transition into adult roles than putting a scorpion down your pants, which she did in War, Inc. (Still, Duff has a comedy pilot at NBC called Barely Legal, based on the story of a woman who passed the California bar exam at age 18. So maybe she isn’t in a rush to grow up after all.)

For real Ghost Whisperer fans, last night was about getting back to the Jim saga. He has no memory of being Ghost Jim or Sam. He finally started asking the questions we’ve all been pondering: How will people treat him when they think he’s moved in on Jim’s grieving widow? Who will he be? The answers: Not well, and Sam, because Sam took the math and science prerequisites in college that could finally help Jim fulfill his dream of going to med school. I was a little weirded out by Jim using Sam like that, but then I remembered that he stepped into his dead body, so you know, borrowing college transcripts is really nothing. And David Conrad’s soft, good-guy voice goes a long way in smoothing out any story hiccups. I loved that Melinda told him he didn’t have to work hard for her and be patient, though it was a little cruel to cut off that kiss when they did. I’ll have my Jim back when he’s wearing a tank to bed.

addCredit(“Monty Brinton/CBS “)

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