Last night on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the gang addressed the hot-button issue of gun control in the same fashion that the rest of the world does: they formed two opposing sides who yelled at each other about how stupid and wrong they are.
Frank set everything in motion with his appearance on "Good Morning Philadelphia" (hoagie in hand), where he described his recent experience being held up by gun-toting thugs. Crediting his survival to his two pieces that are on him at all times, he urged everyone to get down to Gunther's Guns to arm themselves. This whipped the rest of the gang into a frenzy, but much to their dismay, they realized they weren't all on the same side of the issue. While Dennis and Dee wanted to get guns off the streets, Mac and Charlie wanted to turn Philly into the Wild West. Or at least something closer to Detroit.
Mac and Charlie put on their best 'merican denim outfits and headed off to the nearby middle school to offer their security services. They were greeted by none other than Dave Foley, who returned as the milquetoast school administrator who was forced to change jobs after hiring Charlie as a janitor in Season 6. He certainly wasn't happy to see Charlie again, especially once he and Mac started brandishing their weapons (gun and sabre, respectively) in his office. Their repeated attempts to help protect the school eventually got them banned from the premises, after they confiscated a cell phone from a sass-mouth kid playing zombie games. Undeterred, Mac and Charlie just took the kids back to the bar to train them how to use common schoolroom items—forks, compasses, piano wire—as weapons against outside attackers. Unfortunately, the kids were all too happy to use them on each other.
Meanwhile, Dennis and Dee's plan to prove how easy it is to buy an assault rifle was met with constant roadblocks. At Gunther's Guns, both Reynolds kids failed the background check: Dennis for "felonious behavior" and Dee for being institutionalized after lighting her college roommate on fire. From there, it was off to the gun show, where Dennis's plot to rob a gun seller with his own gun didn't quite work out. And their last ditch attempt to buy one illegally off the street only left Dennis empty-handed and out $1500.
By the time the gang got back to Paddy's Pub, the sides had flipped. But before everyone could get too hot again, Frank revealed that he orchestrated the city's gun fever, simply because he owns a stake in Gunther's Guns. And once he cashed in on all that action, he was on to the next scheme: convincing Philadelphians that they need to buy his special water filters.
This episode seemed to have everything going for it. Funny social commentary? Check. Hilarious fashion choices (courtesy of Charlie)? Check. The entire cast in top form? Check. All that was there. And yet I was still a bit disappointed. As good as the performances were, I can't remember laughing out loud more than once. (And that was at Mac's frustration that Charlie would even have to ask him if he'd ever seen "Indiana Jones.") I don't know, maybe I've just been spoiled by the many times this show has left me clutching my sides and gasping for air.
Or maybe it felt too much like an attempt to capture the magic of some past episodes. Clearly, the episode— right down to its title—was meant to be something of a sequel to Season 1's far superior "Gun Fever." But there were also nods to "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare" (I'm pretty sure the gun dealer they visited was the same guy who sold them crack), "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth" (Dave Foley's character) and "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass" (all the denim and do-rags). I love a good call-back or two when they're done well, but there was something about the way these familiar references were presented that just felt like the writers (McElhenny, Day and Howerton themselves, in this case) were just throwing fans a few bones.
• How did we never hear about Sweet Dee's burned-up roommate before? You think that would have come up after the guys set her on fire back in Season 3.
• I loved how Dennis casually dismissed his "felonious activity" by claiming that he was "merely a person of interest" in those cases. And I love that they didn't get into specifics, because it's way more fun (and disturbing) to imagine what those cases were.
• Mac demonstrating how to zig zag away from an assailant and Charlie almost literally shooting him down each time was gold.
• Best quotes:
Mac: “This is good! We’re all hot at the same time, and we should do something about it!”
Frank: "Liberals are trying to take away our rights with this global warming bullshit."
Dee: "You light one bitch on fire and everyone freaks out!"
Mac: "Don't count beers, Carlos. It's not cool."
Mac: "We created a Hunger Games-type scenario in there!"
Frank: “This is America. You’re either a duper or a dupee.”
Frank: "Did you know that 80% of your water is 100% toxic?"