In last week’s Season 8 premiere, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia did something of a callback episode but not a complete recycling job like it does in “The Gang Recycles Their Trash.” It’s a peculiar move nonetheless, doing back-to-back episodes that resurface some of the best of the Sunny canon. But where last week’s installment came off as a bit lazy, I’m a little more lenient in accepting this episode as a nice piece of meta-fiction, where the gang not only literally recycles their trash, but figuratively as well.
The episode shares more than a few similarities to the classic “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis,” and it’s clear from the opening scene that the creators are in on the joke with Dee pulling the “this all seems way too familiar” line. I have no problem with characters breaking the fourth wall (in a way, at least), but I have never been a fan of using one character’s awareness of the similarities two time periods share for comedic intent (something Scrubs used to do often). Still, it sets up the episode nicely, with the Gang ready pull out all the stops in order to solve the trash crisis.
Since they all acknowledge that their plans never work (which I guess constitutes progress?), Frank has taken the lead on this one, assigning Dennis, Mac, and Charlie to go around town picking up the trash and dumping it in a landfill in New Jersey while Frank uses Dee as a lady whore to try to seduce the city council into undermining the trash union. And on cue, things deviate from the plan rather quickly. In the case of Frank and Dee, neither can agree on how to appropriately seduce a powerful man, but it turns out to be a moot point because they’re dealing with the gay councilman who wanted to buy the bar a few seasons back (I should have started an early-season callback counter). None of this really worked for me, but at least we got Frank attempting to do a sexy shirtless dance out of it.
Meanwhile, Dennis immediately disregards Frank’s initial plan and comes up with the idea of dressing up in tuxedos while picking up trashing in a limousine, thus coming off much less creepy than they would have in a windowless van. Surprisingly, this plan works out great. Residents are getting rid of the trash, the Gang is making good money, and Mac gets to hang off the back of the limo like a true garbageman. They even get to sing a nifty a cappella song that I want as my ringtone immediately.
But it turns out that even though it has become maybe their only successful plan ever, no one is happy. Their tuxes and limo are covered in trash and bird shit and they decide to give up on this plan to recycle the old plan of selling gas door-to-door, which everyone agree was an amazing idea despite it’s miserable failure. So they deviate from the plan and dump the trash in a poor neighborhood instead of the landfill, because poor people don’t care about living in their own filth.
At the union rally, the workers are about to finalize a deal when Frank and Dee crash the ceremony. Frank tries to act like a disgruntled worker, and then Dee jumps in as her Martina Martinez character and incites a race war (as the Gang calls it). She points over to the white men dumping trash in their neighborhood (is this how we are gonna live?), and of course it’s Dennis and Mac and Charlie, who are otherwise oblivious as to why the trash men are so mad.
Back at the bar, Charlie gives a rousing speech that the gang shouldn’t give up so easily on their plans, but instead they should learn from their mistakes and make adjustments — which of course leads the Gang back to the windowless van blasting the theme from Ghostbusters. Learning from his past mistakes, Mac makes sure to check the brakes before the trip, because he knows Charlie is going to try some real wildcard shit once again. But once they realize that the garbagemen are back to work, all of the Gang’s motivation is lost, as it is at the end of every single episode of Sunny. They have proved once again that they are incapable of change, but honestly, who would want them to anyway?
– Dennis: “Who am I supposed to vote for? The Democrat who’s blasting me in the ass? Or the Republican who’s blasting me in the ass?” Mac gets in on the ass-blasting talk too: “Let’s pull up our boot straps, oil up a couple of asses, and do a little plowing of our own…Not gay sex.”
– Dennis tries to explain that Charlie is no longer the wildcard and that there’s no benefit to having a maniac in the group, but Charlie literally does not understand anything that’s happening in the scene.
– For those keeping score at home, using accents, knives constitutes wildcard behavior.
– A Twunk – a twink and a hunk (good). A Twank – a twink and a skank (not good).
– Martina Martinez had the crowd going with speech until it went off the rails with the orange and grape sodas comment.