I may be in the minority with this opinion, but last week's Halloween episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" just didn't do it for me. (That's not why it wasn't recapped; I was actually out of town.) While most of the McPoyle-based episodes are pretty strong, I felt that, aside from a few non-McPoyle moments (Dee sucking "bat poison" out of Frank's head and nearly everything Charlie did, including forgetting how to drive, his "Jaws" speech, and his Batman/horror genre conversation with Mac), it focused so much on elevating the freakishness of everyone's favorite inbred family that the story itself was a little dull, predictable and light on laughs. So I was happy to see "Sunny" return to a more familiar formula in "Charlie and Dee Find Love" this week, because the true humor of the show comes from the gang's dysfunction, and there's no better way to highlight that than by putting them in a fairly normal situation and watching them escalate things to an abormal point.
Things kick off with Charlie and Dee tailing The Waitress in Dee's purple PT Cruiser – the "ridiculous, ugly" car she just bought to replace the one Charlie crashed last week. When The Waitress catches Charlie chasing off a would-be bike thief, he explains that it's his daily stalker activities that not only keep her bike from being stolen, but also prevent her entire life from falling apart. The Waitress, however, doesn't buy it and seemingly convinces Charlie that he needs to stay away from her from now on. Immediately afterward, Dee gets rear-ended by a car inhabited by Trevor and Ruby Taft, a very rich, very attractive brother/sister duo who appear to fall in love at first sight with Dee and Charlie.
Determined to benefit from their friends' good luck, the rest of the gang encourages Dee and Charlie to put on airs for their new love interests, so as not to mess up their chances of finally living the high life. During their first date, the two try their best to act like blue bloods (Dee claims that her relatives were railroad magnates while Charlie explains that he comes from a "moneyful family, shippers of goods and builders of tall..." somethings) until the cheese tray arrives and a ravenous Charlie can no longer keep up the classy charade. When Trevor and Ruby explain that they're happy that Dee and Charlie aren't boring richies like everyone else they know, it's clear that something's up. Dennis, who, along with Mac and Frank had been spying on the date from his car, picks up on this immediately, insisting that this is just like "Les Liaisones Dangereuses" or "Cruel Intentions" or any number of movies that feature bored, rich people making fools of slobs like them. No one really cares what happens to Dee, but the gang's concern for Charlie's feelings causes them to tag along on another date at the Taft mansion, where Dennis plans on uncovering their evil plan. And maybe he'll bang Ruby along the way, if she's up for it. (She's not.)
Meanwhile, when The Waitress's bike is stolen, she angrily calls Dennis thinking that Charlie is the culprit. Worried that The Waitress is going to keep calling him because her life actually IS starting to fall apart without Charlie, Dennis convinces Frank to do all of Charlie's usual stalker duties. But since Frank can't read Charlie's rebus puzzle of a list, he inadvertantly messes up her life even more by putting rat poison in her shampoo, among other things. Although The Waitress thinks that it must be Charlie messing with her, she discovers that he's been spending all of his time with Ruby, whom he brings by to introduce as his girlfriend – a revelation that leaves The Waitress pretty agitated.
Things finally come to a head at a big Taft party, where Dee and Mac soon discover that they are Trevor's guests in a "Dinner for Schmucks"-type situation. But before they can confront Trevor, Dennis shows up and interrupts Mr. Taft's announcement that his company is going public with a damning video of Trevor giving inside trading tips to Mac (although the more damning part of that video may be the pair's "taken out of context" homoerotic oil-wrestling match). Focusing his revenge next on Ruby, Dennis announces that The Waitress – who is now in the hospital after being hit by a car – wants Charlie back in her life (albeit from a safe distance). Ruby pleads with him to stay, explaining that she's nothing like her brother and that she really likes Charlie. And this is where everyone is hit with an unexpected twist: Charlie goes all Dennis on Ruby's ass. And this is why I had to knock my rating of this episode down a peg. I just did not like hearing this from Charlie:
"I was using you. That's why I kissed you in front of The Waitress. That's why I banged you a bunch of times, just to make The Waitress jealous. It's amazing; you slept with me almost instantly. And by the way, a quality woman doesn't do that. She doesn't say yes right away. She says no to a man, for years. Like, 10 years. That's what a real woman does, OK? You know what you were acting like? A stupid little rich slut. And that's all that you are."
Whoa. I mean, it's funny, but it would be funnier and certainly more in character coming from Dennis. Sure, Charlie has been dark before, but I don't ever remember him being outright cruel. He has always been the least evil of the gang (at least since Dee turned the corner somewhere around Season 2). He has a heart. And yeah, he's done some crazy and devious things for The Waitress's love before, but he would never have said those things. He would never have publicly humiliated a girl whose only crime was liking him. Especially since he knows what it's like to care about someone who doesn't reciprocate those feelings. And he never gets any action, so you would think he'd at least be grateful to Ruby for giving him some. I don't know; maybe I'm overthinking this. But Charlie is one of my favorite TV characters ever, and I guess I just don't like seeing him act so unlike himself.
• Speaking of characters staying in character, I appreciated how Ruby's comment about Dennis being pale ate away at him so much that he dropped everything and hit the tanning bed.
• Mary Elizabeth Ellis lost her baby weight and then some. She looks great!
• In my recap of "The Gang Recycles Their Trash," I wondered if Mac's near-kiss of Dennis was one more step toward an eventual reveal that Mac is gay. This week, we witnessed Mac's karate-fueled man crush on Trevor, which culminated a rather suggestive wrestling match. Is that two more steps forward?
• I think I peed a little during Dee's drunken whore dance to "Bad Company."
• I loved Charlie's stalker to-do list. It looked just a bit more intricate than the "Nightman" lyric sheet.
• It was kind of weird seeing Charlie kiss a girl. And maybe it made me a little jealous.
• Best quote of the night goes to Dennis: "If you're in my room, you're always being filmed."
• The rest of the best quotes:
Mac (giving Charlie and Dee dating advice): "Be anybody but yourselves."
Charlie (on the Tafts' ancestors): "I imagine they destroyed many an Indian."
Dee: "That is such a relief...look at this pit stain! I've got bodily functions; I'm sorry!"
Dennis: "Can the girl not smell Charlie? Can the guy not see Dee?"
Dennis: "I know what's happening here. This is a les liaisones dangereuses."
Mac: "OH SH!T!"
Frank: "A what?"
Dennis: "Dangerous Liaisons."
Mac: "What is that?"
Dennis (after popping his shirt off): "What do you think about this...what I'm presenting to you?"
Ruby: "I think you're really pale. Do you need some sunscreen?"