It figures, for the Season 8 finale of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, we’d get an episode filled with promise only to come out of it feeling a little unfulfilled. In what has been a season filled with interesting ideas not fully living up to their potential, I should have known that the finale would be more of the same, no matter how much I wished they’d pull out all the stops for a season-salvaging swan song.
The conceit of this installment is fully Nick-approved, as it gets the whole Gang together in a singular place for an episode having them bitch and bicker and never truly getting on the same page as one another. And having the mock trial setting to decide whether Frank was at fault for damaging the inside of Dennis’s car by rear-ending him or whether Dennis was to blame for doing something as outrageous as eating cereal while driving was a great way to get The Gang off on ridiculous rants and fun side bars.
What the episode handled the best was it’s commentary on the judicial system. In a borderline brilliant exchange by Charlie (further proving that he isn’t as dumb as he sometimes shows), he gets Dennis to admit that he is not certifiably without donkey brains after presenting an official certificate from Frank’s old mental institution declaring him to free of donkey brains. Later, Mac gets his chance to make a case against evolution in a presentation titled “Science is a Liar Sometimes,” presenting instances in which Aristotle, Galileo, and Isaac Newton were all proven wrong with their theories and thus, shown to be a bitch in the eyes of their followers. When Dennis counters that Mac devots all of his faith into a book written thousands of years ago by people he’ll never know, and that science is presented with volumes of facts of supports, Mac effectively “lawyers” Dennis (as Marshall Erickson on HIMYM would call it), getting him to claim that he’s never actually read this research and thus putting his faith in the word of the scientists.
But even if there was a lot of things in this episode that I enjoyed, what it comes down to, as it has for most of the season, is that the laughs were few and far between. The physical comedy of Dennis getting flustered throughout the episode was well played, but not much else got laugh out loud consideration. Charlie continues to be criminally underused (although having Mac read Frank’s certificate aloud because he can’t was a nice gag), very little of what Frank brings to the table does anything for me anymore, and Dee has become the forgotten women, which the show has tried to use as a punchline in the last two episodes to minimal effects.
I guess what it comes down to is that we all watch Sunny because of the outrageous precedent it has set in years past, and while it still shows The Gang being irrational and hateful and selfish, it can rarely go over the top and give us something that we’ve never seen before. I think the crew has realized that after eight years their shock factor is beginning to ware off, which is why it went more with the recycling motif this year, and as a result it turned into a show that was either stuffed with social commentary or was broadly slapstick, as apposed to a nice combination of both the show was during its prime.
Maybe recapping the show on a weekly basis has turned me off to The Gang’s shenanigans, and it’s a reasonable argument, but even the die-hard fans have to see that the creative direction of the show has gotten stale in recent years, and while it will always be a fun hanging out with these deplorable people on Thursday nights, it will be very hard to ever salvage what the show used to be.
– Mac wants to breed genetically mutated superhuman babies, but he knows that could never happen because evolution isn’t real.
– Charlie’s “high spill factor” line regarding Dennis’s cereal decision got a good laugh, as well as his fake prosecutor language “irregardless.”
– “Rock, Flag, and Eagle. Am I right, Charlie?”
– I’m a little disappointed that the “Mac’s Gay” subplot wasn’t explored further this season. With the hints being dropped in nearly every episode, it would have been nice to get a whole half hour on Mac’s sexuality and how The Gang was able to deal with his (potential) coming out.
– That’s it for Sunny this season. I know some of my commenters haven’t been thrilled with some of the things I’ve had to say at times, but my goal here wasn’t to negate you from your viewing enjoyment but rather to assess my opinion on what does and doesn’t work in relation to the rest of the Sunny canon. After recapping three shows I love earlier this year (Breaking Bad, Louie, Girls), I wanted to challenge myself this fall with a show that I both thoroughly enjoyed and hated at times, and believe me, it was a incredible challenge but ultimately very rewarding. I haven’t signed up to recap any Winter shows yet, but I’m sure I’ll be back with something, so stay tuned, thanks for reading, and happy holidays.