At some point along the long slow crawl of evolution, something terrible happened to the Reynolds’ family tree. Where most people have the mental capacity for empathy, forgiveness and self-reflection, Dee and Dennis Reynolds have only a giant red button labeled Revenge. Thank god for that. Without it, what would this season finale have been? Season 7 has, in my opinion, basically been the Dee and Denni show; the tragedy that continued to unfold at their high school reunion is yet another testament to their insanity. Or maybe it’s more like…a promise.
The episode opens on Dennis and Dee pouting alone at a table in the gymnasium, having been publicly dismissed by the popular kids after that whole Rickety-Cricket-has-ringworm…unpleasantness. Without a supportive crowd of attractive goblins hooting at her jokes, Dee’s mockery of Ingrid Nelson, i.e. Fatty McGoo, falls flat. “That felt very forced,” she muses after descending into a minutes-long shrieking monkey of an imitation. “That seemed pathetic and mean.”
Luckily Dennis has a plan as to how at least he can crawl back up to his rightful place as King Dick of Shit Mountain. “I’m going to bang Tim Murphy’s black wife,” he declares. Meanwhile Dee visits the men’s room to discover Charlie, Mac and Frank dangling from various bathroom stalls and attempts to mine them for revenge ideas. “Okay guys, I’m ready to be your friends again,” she says as she breezes in. Charlie and Mac decide they have to reinstate their old gang the Freight Train: “Our conductor’s insane, our cargo is pain. Freight Train!” Sadly, their erstwhile leader Psycho Pete, “who genuinely was mentally ill,” is not in attendance, perhaps because he, in the words of Fatty McGoo, “cut his family into little pieces and ate them for Christmas dinner.” Having failed to come up with her own revenge plan, Dee wants in on the Freight Train business. Only she must first pass the initiation…
Cut to Charlie, Mac and Frank giving Dee a vicious atomic wedgie, her screams echoing those of Mac just hours earlier: “I’m a grown woman! I’m a grown woman!” The wedgie was so devastating, in fact, that Dee throws out her back and must once again slip into the elaborate metal brace that made her the Aluminum Monster in the first place. Good thing Frank brought it in the car! (On a side note: one day I’d like to write a treatise on the place Kailtlin Olson and Deandra Reynolds hold in the pantheon of female characters in comedy/my heart. The two pillars of my argument will be Dee’s explanation of how she’d had her “asshole torn in half by my father and his friends” and the image of her lumbering awkwardly around in her shiny metal cage. One for the ages, this one).
Meanwhile, Dennis’s attempts to employ the D.E.N.N.I.S. system on Tim Murphy’s spouse bottoms out. “I want to be inside you,” he blurts. “I want to do shit to you that makes you realize what a worthless boring piece of shit your husband really is.” Because everyone is awful, Mrs. Murphy is less concerned with the fact that Dennis loathes her husband as with her conviction that Dennis is gay. “I’m wearing a little bit of makeup. Who doesn’t?” he gasps, stunned. Which doesn’t really explain the girdle. Rejected, Dennis screams to his classmates that he’s a golden god and storms out to the car, where the rest of the gang has gathered in defeat.
We all assumed that Dennis had inadvertently revealed that he is a serial killer, right? It’s just a matter of time at this point. The rest of the group falls into an uneasy silence when Dennis pulls his “tools” from a secret compartment in the trunk: zip-ties, duct tape, gloves, a heavy flashlight. Luckily there is a reasonable explanation for everything. “It’s fetish shit,” he sputters. “I like to bind. I like to be bound.” Duh, you guys! Doesn’t everyone keep his or her fetish accoutrement stowed in a secret compartment in their car, only to whip them out whenever his or her body gets flooded with the first chemical surge of blood lust? Thusly has Dennis become Psycho Pete, and the Freight Train rolls out of the station, right toward the popular kids’ stupid unsuspecting idiot faces.
Of course, once confronted by the gang’s collective insanity, the populars start dropping truth bombs. “You were never that cool anyway,” they tell a shocked Dennis, King of all the School, Master of Everybody, before revealing that it was in fact Ronnie the Rat that slept with Dennis’s prom date, not Tim Murphy. Tim Murphy wouldn’t have slept with someone so gross. “Dude, she was gross!” Charlie whispers in realization. The gang immediately turns on each other in humiliation. “We can hide from the world in the bar,” Charlie says, pleading for them to just leave. But to admit defeat and slink away from an unwinnable fight against an imaginary opponent? That’s not what these guys came to their high school reunion to do. Time for Plan B.
Returning to the gym, they quietly falls into place amidst the derision of their peers. After Charlie delivers a short history lesson about high school (until the 1970s, “everyone solved their problems via dance,” today “they’ve got these things called rainbow parties”), the gang enacts Plan B: a tightly-choreographed dance number to George Michael’s “Faith,” complete with laser light show. If anything, Dee’s back brace only adds to the glitz and precision. Mac tears off his shirt and screams, ala MJ’s “Dirty Diana” video. The crowd goes wild. The gang is, for a moment, redeemed.
Cut to reality, where the gang is actually putting on a terrible, sweat-drenched performance greeted by the stunned, horrified silence of their classmates. Mac’s belly glistens as he moans, trapped in their collective reverie. I don’t know if one shot can validate a 50-lbs voluntary comedic weight gain, but if so, Mac drenched in sweat and fantasy would be it. More importantly, the scene confirms the truest thing we know about the Paddy’s gang: that we are watching people, who by all appearances seem to be functional adults, but will nonetheless sabotage everything at the altar of their dark, dumb, undeniable urges. They will never change who they are for anyone, mostly because they can’t. Also, Frank throws up into an ice bucket and it sounds like diarrhea, because yes.
So of course everyone at the reunion is then invited to an after party hosted by the popular kids except Charlie, Mac, Dee, Frank, Dennis and the Waitress. Beaten down, the gang exits in shame. Profoundly drunk, the Waitress shambles by and declares that she will sleep with the next man who talks with her, only to have late comer Schmitty literally leap out of the bushes to squire her away. It’s for the best anyway. Nothing and nobody should ever come interfere with the gang’s unholy chemistry, least of all happiness. Or dignity. Or friendship. Besides, I know a perfectly good storm bunker filled with perfectly good pickled eggs that they can party in all night long.