After last week’s thoroughly entertaining installment, for the most part, “The Gang Dines Out” was another lazy and uninspired episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in a season full of lazy and uninspired episodes.
On paper, the conceit is relatively strong, with all five members of The Gang out to eat at the same fancy restaurant. Dennis and Mac are out enjoying their monthly dinner, Frank and Charlie are celebrating their anniversary of moving in together, and Dee is there by herself, taking advantage of a GroupOn deal. Pinning power players like Dennis and Frank up with innocent, relatively kind-hearted people like Mac and Charlie is a strong move for a bottle episode, as Dennis and Frank play out a ‘tributing’ chess match, with the end game ultimately to humiliate the other table by night’s end. The character motives alone are enough for a handful of solid laughs, most notably from Mac and Charlie, who want nothing more than to say hello to their friends. The moment where the two lock eyes from across the room was especially well played.
But a lot of this episode just didn’t work for me. The whole bromance angle between the two tables, with Mac and Frank both continually being ignored or interrupted while trying to open up about their feelings, was sloppily handled. Dennis, like the audience, was expecting Mac to start expressing his possible gay tendencies he’s shown this season, but instead, the misdirection here was a lame sob story about how Dennis isn’t a very good friend to Mac. It was a surprisingly heartfelt delivery from Rob McElhenney, but it felt mostly like a setup for Dennis to get up and perform his speech, which was a combination of self-stroking his ego in regards to a high school pool party and a backhanded compliment of his appreciation of Mac’s friendship, which was both weird and not at all funny. And as for Frank trying to thank Charlie for helping turn his life around, it wasn’t very believable from the start, but it got a nice moment out of Charlie when he, after all these years, finally realized that Mac and Dennis tricked him into being the janitor at a bar he co-owns.
Dee’s desperate pleas for attention from anybody at the restaurant was quickly played out, although her move of tying the waiter’s shoelaces together is what finally caused The Gang to come together in the end and patch up their friendships. If nothing else, you can always count on Sunny to have its cast of characters bond over the misfortunes of others. And as long as Dennis and Frank continue to be the evil geniuses spearheading the group dynamic, nothing will ever change.
– With his hair parted, Mac was looking especially Haley Joel Osment-y, don’t you think?
– Both Charlie and Mac want to pay tribute by standing and bowing. Can’t these two just ride off into the sunset together?
– The plans for the final battle: Mac – bashing Frank and Charlie’s heads in with a vase. Dennis – blasting them with a fire extinguisher. Charlie – throwing hot soup in their faces. Frank – pinching their dicks with a lobster claw.