One wild night rocked the city of Philadelphia to its foundations this past February, and it was only a matter of time until It’s Always Sunny felt the aftershocks. When the Eagles (go birds, yes, yes, go birds) won the Super Bowl back in the winter, the citizenry entered the customary 12-hour period of Purge-esque anarchy, tipping over lampposts and smashing windows and generally laying waste to whatever might be in their path. As a seismic Philly-specific event implicitly giving ordinary people free rein to act like coked-up rhinoceroses, it certainly sounds like the kind of thing that the Paddy’s gang could get into. And they almost definitely will, as suggested by the “To Be Continued” tease at the end of this episode and title of next week’s episode, “The Gang Wins the Big Game.” First, however, we’ve got to watch Charlie drink his own urine.
Perhaps the writing staff started with the two-part episode conceit and worked back from there, because the first half mainly forestalls the excitement while laboring to maintain some wispy connection to the big game. Things start off on a promising track with everybody raring to get going, presumably to some outdoor viewing event, as Charlie frantically searches for his missing Green Man zentai. The “closed for salmonella because of the Super Bowl” sign has been hung, the neon-trimmed party bus has pulled up, it’s game time — and he’s nowhere to be found. So begins a Charlie-centric episode tangentially related to the ostensible premise of the two-parter, beginning as a Home Alone parody until it gets bored and transitions into a 127 Hours parody that’s then revealed as a big excuse to, as previously mentioned, watch Charlie drink his own urine.
Charlie’s insistence upon dressing as faceless fan favorite Green Man represents but a single part of his tripartite game-day ritual, one of those bizarre habits that regular folks convince themselves can determine a showdown’s outcome. He subscribes to color theory, certain that if he wears green (as Green Man), eats brown (preferably a milk steak, with some light char), and drinks yellow (beer), then the Eagles will emerge victorious. The phrase “drinks yellow,” from the very first time Charlie utters it, promises that Charlie will consume his own liquid waste before the half hour’s up. It’s only a matter of how he’ll be pushed to that breaking point, and this episode takes a circuitous route to a destination not quite worth the trip.
Because Charlie has the mental facilities of an 8-year-old, how else would he respond to being left to his own devices than to go full Kevin McCallister? Confident that that banging on the door comes from robbers, he gets to work assembling a series of traps that certainly won’t backfire on him, no siree. Every component of the episode’s plot screams its own inevitable significance, and Charlie’s lethal obstacle course might as well be a full armory of Chekhov’s guns. The red-hot iron propped up on the doorknob, the gargantuan bear trap plopped on the floor, the broken glass strewn all around it, the hanging cans of paint, the nail gun mounted at chest-height and jerry-rigged to auto-fire at anyone who crosses it — we know Charlie’s laying these traps for himself.
As surely as the sun greets the dawn, Charlie runs afoul of each and every hazard, rendering himself a bloodied, crumpled heap within the span of a few minutes. With nothing but the hallucinations of Eagles players Jason Kelce and Beau Allen for company, he must adhere to his color ritual despite the bear trap digging its jaws into his calf, this episode’s crucial link to the Super Bowl. Noises of jubilation or disappointment coming from outside lead Charlie to believe that he can directly influence the fortunes of the Eagles if he sticks to the plan. His resourcefulness and superhuman threshold for excruciating pain get him pretty far, as he “greens” himself using the dangling paint bucket, “eats brown” by gobbling up a rat down to the spaghetti-slurped tail, and “drinks yellow” by, well, you know. It all works out, as it must, the episode concluding as an alternate history of the Eagles’ bitterly won championship.
There may be a metaphor buried in here somewhere, a broad juxtaposition between Charlie’s agonizing crawl through shards of glass and the brutalizing road to the Eagles’ final game of the season. Sports fans can get real committed, and anyone who’s stuck with their home team year in and year out will tell you that the experience isn’t dissimilar to dragging yourself through a gauntlet of death, at least emotionally. Still, a viewer spends most of this episode wondering what’s going on beyond the now-nail-studded walls of Paddy’s. Everyone else has headed off for the festivities, and like Charlie, we want nothing more than to join them.
Assorted Notes and Questions:
• I admire Rob McElhenney’s ability to somehow speak in all caps, a skill distinct from yelling. His read of “I’M NOT A COWBOYS FAN I’M A TONY ROMO FAN AND HE RETIRED SO NOW I BLEED GREEN GO BIRDS GO BIRDS” sounds like an aggro, half-drunken tweet in vocal form.
• After all that they’ve put one another through, the Waitress remains dead-set on starting a family with Charlie, dropping by to shove asparagus in his face in order to jack up his fertility. My research indicates that it’s high in Vitamin B and folate. Probably for the best that Charlie didn’t eat any before chugging his pee.
• Pretty big stones on Beau Allen, showing his face on It’s Always Sunny in his emerald Eagles jersey after taking a three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in March! I suppose they must have shot prior to the announcement? Either way, Philly-native fans watching this week’s episode may feel a slight sting at the sight of his face.