November 9th, 2013 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia 1
Well, another season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is officially over. Though it’s completely awful that we will need to wait a whole year for new episodes, we are fortunate enough to have these past 10 episodes that are definitely worthy of watching over again. When I wrote about Always Sunny‘s 100th episode, I mentioned that this season was turning out to be unusually remarkable for a show this far into its run. That episode took place in the middle of a season, which means there were four more episodes that could have made me change my mind. After finishing the season, I can now confidently say that this season was probably one of the most consistently great seasons of the show, and a great season of television in general.
Every season of Sunny has at least one or two episodes that stand out from the rest. Other than the fact that these episodes tend to be incredible, they usually stand out even more because almost every season has a huge low point. Often, these episodes centre around Frank (“Frank’s Back in Business”, “Frank’s Brother”) who tends to work better when he’s not the centre of attention. What makes this season stand out so much is that there were no valleys to go with the peaks. Not every episode was outstanding, but even the more lackluster ones seem more like plateaus than full dips in quality.
This season was so good that the season finale “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” might have been the weakest episode of them all, but wouldn’t be an episode I would describe as weak by itself. It’s possible that I’m very biased here, because the episode was clearly made to cater to hardcore fans like myself. However, one thing I’m sure of is the episode was able to put a feeling of closure to the season, while also being hilarious (as always).
In this episode, we saw the return of numerous recurring character that the gang has harmed in the show’s 9 years on the air. Guest stars from as far back as season 1 made it on, and ranged from multiple appearance characters (Rickety Cricket, The McPoyle Brothers) to characters that appeared in one episode (Gail the Snail, Hwang the landlord). Though it would obviously be impossible to bring back every guest star the characters had issues with (as that would literally be everyone), the biggest complaint I had about the episode was the randomness of those who returned. The McPoyles are obvious choices for who should have appeared, as is Rickety Cricket, but Gail the Snail? Though I think she’s hilarious, she was a very small character in the grand scheme of the show, and I don’t think this was the right episode for her to return in. The same can be said about the guy who keeps getting mistaken for Bruce Mathis (better known as Dave from Happy Endings, RIP). I enjoyed the bait-and-switch with him and Bruce, but there are so many more people I would’ve like to see at that party. The main one would be the Lawyer, who is never not welcome on an episode of Sunny, and who definitely has serious “beefs” with the gang. The most surprising omission to me was the Waitress, but I guess Mary Elizabeth Ellis was busy this year.
Despite my nitpicking, I really did have a great time watching this episode. I loved how (accidentally) timely the episode was, what with Blockbuster fully closing shop on the same day, and I loved seeing the gang fail at making amends yet again. My biggest laugh in the episode came from Dennis saying “I guess” in response to Gail’s repeated chant of “Food Fight!”. It seemed like the most nonchalant response to such an insane suggestion, and pretty much summed up the gang’s mentality towards everything. I also loved the callback to Charlie serving sub-par bird to the gang (probably pigeon), and getting to hear so many incidents from past seasons brought out throughout the half-hour. Like I said before, this episode was made for longtime fans, and definitely wouldn’t play as well for casual viewers who can’t understand why the gang keeps saying “jabroni” or why Gail would be giving Hwang a “handie under the table”.
Whether or not this episode was strong, it doesn’t change the fact that I will seriously miss this show in its off-season. Seeing these 5 characters try and fail to “bury the hatchet” or “wipe the slate clean”, while knowing they never really will, is what separates this show from all others. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Thanksgiving episode of a show that ends with dinner guests being locked into a burning apartment, while the main characters proclaim their hatred for people that aren’t themselves. The gang will never “squash their beefs”, because as soon as that happens, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is no longer about 5 endearingly depraved lunatics, and that isn’t the show I want it to be.