It’s totally understandable that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s take on the Vikings’ Super Bowl win earlier this year couldn’t be contained in a single episode. The way they split it up made total sense as well; the first episode, which aired last week, saw Charlie home alone at the bar, trying to overcome the odds after he gets his foot stuck in a bear trap and can’t do his usual array of superstitions. The show saved everything else for this week’s episode, “The Gang Wins the Big Game”, in which Mac, Frank, Dee and an array of Philadelphia’s biggest losers head to Minnesota in order to attend the game and help out their team. Both episodes brought very different things to the table and structurally stood on their own.
The problem with both is that they felt incomplete. Never mind Glenn Howerton’s absence (as these episodes took place while Dennis was away raising his child in North Dakota), they just felt like two halves of an episode that would have maybe been better served if they were meshed together in one single narrative. If anything, “Charlie’s Home Alone” felt like it needed more time, and this week’s episode struggled to fill it. This is so egregious that the cold open of both episodes are both mostly just the same thing up until the point where Charlie gets left home alone.
That’s not to say that both episodes aren’t funny, and don’t fit within the framework of makes for good Sunny. In this week’s episode particularly, we get to see a lot of the great side-character from the show which have mostly gone unused this season, from Uncle Jack to Cricket to Pondy, but few of them really got a chance to shine the way they might in an episode where they’re the focus. If anything, in the IASIP side-character power rankings, it’s probably the Waiter that makes the biggest jump, even though this is his second appearance of the season (the first, in the Ladies Boggs Reboot, foretells this flashback episode). Elsewhere, we get a great bit where a pink-eye infested Sweet Dee goes on a Mr. Magoo-like adventure on her way to blinding Tom Brady in the final minute of the game, and Frank has to pass a kidney stone to save the team. As for Mac, his role in the episode feels very much like he was doing what Dennis would have been doing, which gives us an interesting glance into what a full Dennis-less season of this show would have been like (my take is that this is not the role I necessarily want Mac to be filling). It was also impressive how they got to use actual footage from the Super Bowl, not to mention footage of Philly fans celebrating after the fact. Sports footage feels like something sacrosanct in America, so it’s rather impressive that they managed to pull that off.
“The Gang Wins the Big Game” has a lot of fun elements, but I don’t think it comes together. More or less specifically because it’s missing the Charlie elements from that week. I just felt as if I wanted more from both, especially after a string of great episodes earlier in this thirteenth season, and so much hype about these episodes, knowing they were coming. And it just feels as if it would have been an easy fix if this was an hourlong episode to open or close the season. That’s why this second part gets 6 expeditions for jean shorts out of 10.
The Best Lines from This Week’s Episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- Goddamnit Count: 0, yet again! Maybe this is why these episodes didn’t click with me. Also no bird jokes at Dee’s expense despite being at an Eagles game.
- Inarguably the funniest thing about this episode is how Danny DeVito has to use the shorter urinal. Also why does Mac have to take him to the bathroom?
- Uncle Jack/Mac after Mac pulls off his giant hands: “Don’t make me go without them.” “I’m not making you go at all!”
- Mac: “You have literally picked out the biggest pieces of shit in the city.”
- Cricket: “I came up port side on a horse and he was a little quicker than me. Lesson learned.”
- Mac after 11 plays of ‘Eye of the Tiger’: “It turns out there’s not that many songs about Philadelphia.”
- Sweet Dee: “Everybody look at me, I’m a stupid Pats fan making stuff up about Dee’s eye.”
- Mac after the Waiter falls: “This Minnesota rube, he’s not ready for your big city shenanigans, Frank!”