While last week’s episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” started in the middle and never looked back, this week’s installment is told mostly in flashback. Via the classic church confessional setup, Mac finally acknowledges the elephant in the room: that he is the elephant in the room. (Oh, snap!)

Although Mac now realizes that the extra mass around his waist isn’t muscle, he isn’t about to take responsibility for being fat. As that poor priest quickly discovers, “How Mac Got Fat” is a convoluted story, told from Mac’s POV, that explains why the Paddy’s gang of “sinners and pricks” is to blame for turning Mac from a lean slice of beef into a tub of lard. 

None of us actually saw it happen, but at some point in the not-too-distant past, the bar reached its “tipping point” and became wildly popular. Mac claims that the sudden success only heightened everyone’s worst traits – Dennis became “psychotically vain,” Dee refused to accept that she wasn’t funny and practically assaulted customers with her comedy bits, Frank hatched several plans each more horrible than the last, and Charlie just freaked out more than usual.  Of course, the one thing they all had in common was the self-destructive attitude that, since the bar was making money, their jobs were done.    

Ultimately, it was Dee’s plan to hire replacements to take over the gang’s jobs that led Mac to gain weight. Since Mac insisted on hiring a “gorgeous muscle monster” as his “avatar,” he felt pressured to bulk up, and hey,  it’s not his fault that he didn’t realize that candy, chips and donuts wouldn’t have the same effect as, say, protein shakes and PowerBars. Worse, it all turned out to be for nothing, because once Mac showed off his new physique, Dee explained that they dropped the avatar plan weeks earlier and everyone just pointed and laughed at his belly. 

The "how" behind the episode title isn’t really that great of a payoff. I mean, come on, Mac is a little dumb, but he’s not that dumb. Especially where his body is concerned.  But despite a relatively weak ending, the bulk (pun probably intended) of the episode is classic "Sunny." What’s really great about it is that not only do we get to learn a few more things about the characters, but we also get to see each of them the way Mac sees them, which adds an interesting layer to the story.

I think Dee and Charlie get off fairly easy in Mac’s tale, as they’re just heightened versions of their normal selves. What’s highlighted seems to be things that really bug Mac about each of them: Dee is all lame jokes and pro-abortion and Charlie is prone to high-pitched spaz-outs and huffing.

In Mac’s eyes, Frank is just a weird, little dude who’s constantly concocting schemes just for the hell of it. The plans that Frank cooks up are delightfully random – from creating meat bombs to just whacking people with sticks – but my favorite had to be when he tried to mess up the traffic outside and accidentally created a much safer four-way intersection. His disappointment over unintentionally doing something good was one of the highlights of the episode.

It’s Mac’s version of Dennis that is the most unsettling, and therefore, the most amusing. Although we’ve always known that Dennis is a hyper-conceited sociopath, he’s never appeared quite as broken as he does in Mac’s mind. In contrast to Mac’s lapse in self-maintenance, Dennis goes to great lengths to keep himself looking as youthful and handsome as possible, with disastrous results. After finding a few gray hairs and wrinkles, he dyes his hair black (“like Superman”) and gets a chemical peel, which only leaves him looking charred and like he’s “wearing a mask of his face on his face.”  Through it all, Dennis seeks constant validation from the group, his face frozen in a sad puppy dog expression and his voice barely above a whisper. One could almost feel bad for Dennis, but Mac reminds us all of the guy’s true nature with one of the best quotes of the night: “Dennis always tells me, ‘never let someone’s resistance stop you from getting what you want’.”  Yeah…he’s hurting women. 

Grade: A-

Random Thoughts:

• OK, so now that the priest absolved Mac of his sins and promised that God would help him shed the weight, Rob McElhenney can lose the weight and the beard now, right?

• Please, please, please let there be an extended scene of Charlie’s post-huffing techno dance on this season’s DVD.  That was definitely the high point of the episode. Not sure which part was funnier: Dennis’ entranced expression or Charlie miming that he was eating Dennis’ eyeballs. (OK, I just cracked up writing the last part of that sentence, so I guess the eyeball-eating was the best part.)

• Second-biggest laugh out loud moment for me was when Frank whacked Charlie with the stick, giggled like a teenager and said, “That’s fun! You wanna do that to people?”

• Charlie sleeps in "the crevice" when Frank stresses him out. Every time a new Charlie quirk is revealed, an angel gets its wings.

• Dee wins best line of the night: “You got big titties and I like to kill babies. UNBORN babies.” 

• The rest of the best quotes are all Mac’s:
"Oh, great and angry God! I command thee to smite my friends!”

“I got lost in the moment because I’m a natural storyteller.”

“Dee is guilty of sloth. And she’s pro-abortion.”

“Glory unto you, ghost man in the sky that created us all and pre-determines everything.”

• Mac also gave the best line reading. His delivery of “I always wanted to sail” killed me.