If we didn't already know that It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia would be coming back for two more seasons after this, I'd say tonight's first half of the season seven finale was just two or three returning guest stars away from becoming a fittingly full-circle series wrap up, a la Seinfeld. While it's not exactly an unheard of occurrence for the gang's past wrongs come back to haunt them (season three's finale “The Gang Dances Their Asses Off” comes immediately to mind), it really did seem like the high school reunion was being set up as a stage for the huge karmic wallop that has been steadily gaining on them over the past few years. I have a feeling that nothing as game-changing as a jail sentence will go down in next week's conclusion, so in an already callback-heavy season, the reappearances were not unwelcome, but maybe pleasantly pointless at worst.
In addition to perennial punching bags Rickety Cricket and the Waitress, we also got Dennis' ex-wife, Deadtooth Maureen, and the Waitress' one-time fiance, Brad Fisher (last seen receiving a box of hornets from Charlie). We've learned to expect the former two to show up at these things, and I suppose it was only logical for the latter two to be there since it's already been established that the gang knew them from high school, so I'll give the episode a pass for now for not doing much with them besides reminding us of the central jokes of their respective past episodes. Also, the Kings of Leon were there.
It's hard to really sum up tonight's episode (penned by Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day), because aside from Dee's mission to ingratiate herself to bully Adriano and the cool kids table, it was high on punchlines and low on throughlines. I don't mean that as a slight at all; there was plenty of good material for everyone tonight, particularly Charlie and Mac. And unlike last week's episode, I felt like most of the laughs were surprising while not being illogical in the context of what we already know about the characters. Case in point: the anecdote about Mac catching ringworm from his dog Poppins (evidently just as disgusting in the mid-nineties as today), giving it to Charlie while they were practicing for the wrestling team tryouts, then both of them spreading it to the entire team. It all kind of makes sense, doesn't it? (“They probably still have it 'cause they're so gay together,” Dee tells Adriano enthusiastically.)
We've seen prior glimpses of Charlie's eagerness to do disgusting things under the impression that it's what people expect and love him for, but tonight that particular delusion of his really came front and center. I was completely caught off-guard by his cheerful response to Adriano's suggestion that he sniff a marker (“That's so cool; you're so cool, Adriano!”) and while I saw his bleach-and-ammonia-induced blackout coming, and the subsequent atomic wedgie, I did not expect to see his filthy, disintegrating underwear come out in shreds while he lay passed out on the bathroom floor. This very well might be a new low for Charlie, who, aside from a brief dance with inhalants, was mostly comparatively functional this season. Since this is apparently the most meta season of Sunny yet, may I remind you of the exchange from the beginning of the episode, in which Mac tells Charlie, “You don't need to huff shit or eat weird things to get people to like you,” and Dee responds, “No, I think he does.”
Though tonight was heavy on the filth for an episode that mostly took place in a school gymnasium, Rickety Cricket's return tonight might have been the most delightfully disgusting part of all. I should have known better when David Hornsby came in looking all cleaned up and back in his priest getup; the rule of Cricket is that each subsequent Cricket appearance must be at least 20 percent more pathetic than the one before. Still, I was actually pretty shocked by the ringworm n' chains reveal, which suddenly made his weird effort to caress everyone at the reunion make horrible sense.
The full title of next week's conclusion is “The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge,” but there are still plenty of people at that reunion who still have scores to even with the gang. I'd love to think that Charlie will wake up, put a fresh pair of underwear on, and finish the night with no further damage, but I have a feeling Brad Fisher still has a hornet in his bonnet. (Sorry.)
- “Sir Mix-A-Lot was not talking about women whose backs had recovered from a horrific spinal disorder.”
- I know I've brought up hypothetical premises for Sunny flashbacks/prequels, but given all the fucked up people that it seems to have produced, I actually think that a show about the gang's high school would be a whole lot of fun. We'll see if Unsupervised, the upcoming animated high school comedy EP'd by RCG makes good on all that potential teenage depravity.
- “Do you see a spider I can eat? I gotta eat a spider.”
- Good god, Mary Elizabeth Ellis does a good drunk. Her turning away muttering “I know you bitch, I know you, bitch,” to Dee was spot on.
- Because his hair was different and my screener wasn't exactly hi-def, I didn't recognize Brad at first, nor could I really notice his hornet scars. I imagine it would have been even funnier if I had.
- The line so horrifying that I'm almost hesitant to reprint it goes to Dee, unsurprisingly: “I hope you suck each others' rotten peckers until you get mouth cancer.” Kaitlin Olson somehow managed to be even more terrifying tonight than she was in “The Storm of the Century” and “CharDee MacDennis” combined.
- UPDATE: I failed to mention, and it has already been pointed out in the comments, that we have most likely learned the Waitress' name, due to the fact that Frank stole a nametag and she was missing hers. Pleased to meet you, Nicki Potnick.
- “Smash 'em up!”