'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' Recap: 'The Gang Gets Analyzed'
If there's anything the gang from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” needs it's a shrink, so last night's episode, "The Gang Gets Analyzed" was long overdue. And at the risk of sounding like some idiot "American Idol" judge who calls every performance the "best performance so far," I have to say proclaim this week's episode the funniest of the season...so far. Yeah, dawg.
It starts out basic enough, with Dee dragging the gang to a therapist (the always wonderful Kerri Kenney-Silver) to find out who's responsible for doing the dishes from their recent dinner party. But of course, as the therapist points out, the gang's problems go way deeper than just dirty dishes, so she attempts to speak to each of them individually to see exactly what kind of dysfunction she's dealing with. Having minored in psychology, Dennis feels empowered to help the therapist out with her assessments -- a move that, on the surface, might just seem like a simple case of Dennis being a self-important nuisance as always, but is probably more of a self-preservation tactic. Dennis clearly doesn't want anyone poking around in his messed up head, because there's a lot of dark matter in there that should probably never come out.
The therapy sessions with Dee and Mac don't reveal too many surprises; we all know that Dee's mommy and daddy issues cause her to obsessively seek approval from anyone who might give it to her, and Mac is hyper-emotional (and most likely gay...like I've been saying FOREVER). Dennis's refusal to be analyzed is also predictable (for the reason I mentioned earlier), as are his creepily casual remarks about the thrill of "standing near the executioner's switch." Yeah, if Dennis hasn't already killed someone, he totally will by the time this series reaches its end.
Oddly enough, the most revealing sessions are Frank's and Charlie's, characters who can so easily be defined as "crazy" that there hardly seems to be a point to digging any deeper into their psyches. Frank, defiantly spitting pistachio shells all over the clean office carpet, doesn't believe in therapy, and Charlie freely and rather cheerfully admits that he's the "weirdest guy in the world...weirder than someone from Saturn."
Yet, Frank cracks almost instantly, breaking down over memories of his childhood at "nitwit school," a terrible place where he roomed with a "frog kid" and got his first kiss from a girl with no lips. Honestly, I thought at first that he was making it all up just to mess with the therapist, but he really did come "unzipped." And once he's unzipped, he unfurls a Reynolds family secret: Barbara had been pregnant with "another twin" (uh, what you might call a triplet) at the same time as Dennis and Dee. They were going to name him Donnie, but Dennis and Dee "devoured him." I don't know if that's quite as good as Charlie being an abortion survivor, but it's up there.
And speaking of Charlie, it turns out that for as crazy (and illiterate) as he is, he's actually the most well-adjusted of the gang. It could be because he's willing to own his craziness, doesn't lie to himself about his flaws and actually cares about whether he's a good person. Aside from the fact that he's been carrying a dead pigeon around in his jacket for who knows how long, the therapist finds nothing to suggest that Charlie couldn't make a few adjustments and go on to live a pretty normal life. And this goes back to what I was talking about last week when I insisted that Charlie would never have given that terribly cruel kiss-off speech to Ruby. Because Charlie is the best of them. Charlie can be saved. I BELIEVE IN CHARLIE!
Now, even though there weren't many surprises in Dee's and Mac's sessions, they were still pretty entertaining. Dee's compulsion to perform (including a terrible impression of Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting") make for some funny moments that lead to an amazing "tell me I'm good" beg-a-thon. As for Mac, his session was actually my favorite partly because of Rob McElhenny's fantastic line delivery, and partly because it served as a reminder that Mac is actually the most complex of the group. While it's easy to boil the rest of the gang members down to simple descriptions (Charlie: weirdo, Dennis: sociopath, Frank: scumbag, Dee: lost little girl), Mac is not so easy to pin down. He might come off as a simple meathead, but that's only because the poor guy has more issues than he knows what to do with, and he buries them all because he wants to be cool in everyone's -- especially Dennis's -- eyes. The wild mood swings are nothing. When Mac finally cracks, it ain't gonna be pretty. (And that Mexican Ephedra that Dennis has apparently been slipping Mac isn't helping matters.)
Despite what they may or may not have learned in therapy, in the end it all comes back to one issue: who should do the dishes? And even though Charlie had earlier expressed that "at its core," he actually loves Charlie work, the therapist still picks Dee for dishwashing duty. Doesn't she realize that Dee will only take that as some sort of rejection? Could she not figure out that making that choice would only end in shattered plates all over her office? I guess a stupid move like that is to be expected from someone who got her degree from a school named after a pasta dish.
• OK, so if everyone hasn't figured out yet that Mac is gay, Dennis definitely knows. And he's having a grand old time tormenting him about it by planting phallic-like pens everywhere and such. And Mac always takes the bait. Orally.
• It's been a while since we've seen one of Dennis's big-boobed woman drawings. Nice that he incorporated himself into this one.
• All of the performances were so good in this episode that I feel like this might be Sunny's best shot at FINALLY getting an Emmy nom. I don't care if it's for the show itself, the writers or one or more of the actors, but it's a crime that they've been ignored for 8 years. Going by this episode alone, I'd have to give the acting edge to Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney. Howerton was at his usual best in this episode, drawing all of his words out in slow, perfectly enunciated tones to fully bring his smugness across, but McElhenney, who has long been one of the most underrated comic actors (on TV in general and even as part of this specific cast) really hit it out of the park. His manic-depressive speech during his therapy session was a thing of beauty.
• That speech: "Yeah, you're goddamn right I'm on edge! I hosted the shit out of that party! And that's just not setting the table, OK? I made a playlist, I thought of cool shit to talk about, I provided security, I kept everybody safe! SAFE! (whimpers) You know, sometimes I feel like they don't even understand me, and we're not even that good of friends. (gets angry) Aaaahhhh!!! That's bullshit! That's bullshit! We're like the best of friends in the whole goddamn world and goddamn them for making me think otherwise! (laughs)"
• The rest of the best quotes:
Mac: "Well, first of all, through God all things are possible, so jot that down."
Therapist (to Charlie): "I feel like you're mirroring my words but you're not exactly understanding them."
Charlie: "We'll make an adjustment to it, and we'll make a tradition out of it."
Frank: "She was an angel, always smiling. That's because she had no lips, but her mouth was still very much in play. She died two weeks later...she thought she was a space man with a plastic bag for a helmet."
Dee: "Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm good tell me I'm good tell me I'm good..."