Now that is a cold open! Last night’s It’s Always Sunny ep plunged us headlong into the gang’s latest scheme; between the creepy intro music, the visual of Dee and Dennis trapped in a closet and Glenn Howerton’s delightful, near-apoplectic rage, it was a pleasure to have no fucking idea what was going on.
Having found himself stuck with his sister in a stranger’s walk-in closet, Dennis has chosen this moment, this foolish scheme (which revolved around the gang “liberating” a vase purchased in a museum auction) to question the entirety of the gang’s dynamic. “Everybody’s on the gas, nobody’s on the break!,” he snarls quietly. “We’ve got to examine our process!” He lashes out at Dee (“Loud voice, breath reeks, nosy”) and Frank, as well as Charlie and Mac, who wait outside in an extremely conspicuous get-away van. “We should not be committing crimes that are based on beliefs that are two hours old!,” Dennis rages, his criticism getting more and more meta even as it’s revealed that the plan…was basically his idea. Apparently he read a newspaper article about the “artifact,” then stood on a chair and made a very persuasive speech. “’I have the grace of a falcon. I’ll be in and out like a demon’s whisper,’” Mac reminds him. Dennis’s wasp-in-a-jar fury is even more effective when you realize he enraged himself, built the jar, than stuck himself inside it with Dee’s quadruple onion breath.
Overall, I’d say stuffing the gang into a series of small spaces (under the bed, in the guest bath) and forcing them to speak in furious whispers just took their frantic energy to the next level. Once they realize the family whose house they have broken into is 1) at home and 2) Southern, the possibility of violence sky-rockets. In their minds. “I hope they hogtie you. And then I hope they rape you in their basement for ten years!” Dee hisses at an increasingly antagonistic Dennis. “If some hillbilly comes at me, I’ll lash him in the teeth,” Frank reassures them. Frank truly went wildcard in this episode, riffling through suitcases, ripping open a talking teddy bear and cracking a deafening bullwhip. “I’m going to whip this little bitch in the face if she makes a peep,” he barks, before hiding, E.T.-style, in a pile of stuffed animals belonging to the family’s daughter. You’d think the egg smell would give him away, but what do I know?
Meanwhile, Charlie and Indiana Fat Mac wait outside, fantasizing about the imported leather goods store they’ll open in Arizona once this failed plan forces them to flee the state. “Tasseled leathers, the turquoise studs on the leathers, all the leathers,” Charlie murmurs. Overhearing their scheme to leave their three friends trapped in the house, Dennis quickly punctures their dream. “There are far too many leather shops in Arizona shops already,” he rages. “You’d be out of business in a week’s time.” Despite their fringe-covered dreams, when it comes time to detonate Charlie into action, Dee need only ask why Mac is the only one who gets to hold down the walkie-talkie-button for their partnership to dissolve.
Now, between Mac’s Swedish plumber persona and Dee and Dennis’ bathroom argument (“I’m not going to spray anything anywhere. Are you not familiar with how a woman urinates?,” she inquires), I feel this was a particularly funny episode. And yet…the ending felt lacking. Mentioning a hillbilly rape dungeon on It’s Always Sunny is like showing a gun in a play: at the end, somebody better use it. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted a perfectly good torture pit! On the other hand, when we see Dee, Dennis and Charlie huddled in the coat closet whilst a love triangle blows up in the foyer (oh, the family’s wife is planning to runaway with her boyfriend and child, fyi), I got the inkling that we’d get something akin to Dirty Work’s fish scene: our protagonist silently panicking while gunfire rips through the placid suburban air. Say hello the devil for me! Instead, the gang just walks slowly, obviously past the stunned (Asian) homeowners. I wanted a bombastic payoff, though it is truly more authentic to the show’s voice at this point that nothing ends up changing at all. Spotting the vase they’ve been searching for this entire time, Frank does the first thing that comes to mind: gleefully smashing it with his bullwhip. Of course. How else would these fuck-ups spend 1:50pm on a Tuesday afternoon?