In its fourth episode, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" takes a quick meta-moment to acknowledge to the audience that it's really pushing the envelope this year. It seems a bit odd (and maybe a little late) to make that acknowledgement on a show that's always tested the boundaries of good taste. So what is the gang doing now that warrants poking a hole in the fourth wall? Oh, just throwing a baby funeral. That it's fake doesn't make it any less uncomfortable.

The not-really-dead baby in question is the one Dee gave birth to last season, and the one she's claimed (and intends to continue claiming) as a dependent on her tax return. With her surrogate money, Dee buys a sweet scooter, complete with a vanity license plate that reads "$CAMMIN," a touch that doesn't go unnoticed by the IRS agent who shows up at her apartment. As she has no proof that her dependent exists, Dee frantically attempts to find a temporary child, eventually enlisting the help of Mac and Charlie, who claim they can get her a baby by 3:00.

However, Mac and Charlie have problems of their own. Annoyed that Frank has been making all the business decisions, they, along with Dennis, whip up a bastardized democratic system, through which they plan to vote on all Paddy's-related issues (like what to do with the dead dog in the alley) free of emotion. Their only plan to keep emotions out of the process is by yelling, "Reason will prevail!" And just like screaming, "Serenity now!" didn't help Frank Costanza relax, this idea is pretty much guaranteed to fail.  

When Dennis points out a fatal flaw of democracy—the tie vote—Mac and Charlie rope Dee into joining their newly-created Pickle Party as their tiebreaker. Now party men, Mac and Charlie somehow manage to have reasonable discussions about unimportant things, such as replacing lime wedges with pickles, the appropriateness of displaying a crucifix in the bar, and just how big and bloody that crucifix should be. (Eventually, the gang abandons democracy for the "old system of yelling," but it's impressive that Mac and Charlie remain rational for at least two whole conversations.) 

Meanwhile, Dennis has discovered Frank's dirty back-room book cooking schemes and wants in. Frank agrees to give Dennis a fake job in his fake cola distributor (Wolf Cola, probably made with all that wolf hair in Frank and Charlie's place) so that Dennis can seem powerful to the women he terrorizes, er, dates. 

When Mac and Charlie's promise to find Dee a baby falls through, Dennis and Frank realize that Dee's audit could spell trouble for their own shady business dealings. Deciding that they can make this problem go away by convincing the IRS auditor that Dee's baby has died, the gang whips up a quick funeral, which Dennis acknowledges is "the darkest thing we've ever done." The charade ends when the coffin topples over, propelling the dead dog (more like "hot soup" at this point) inside onto the floor with a sickening thud. Afterwards, Dee informs the gang that they're "all going down," and I don't think she's talking about tax fraud. Maybe it's just the giant crucifix hovering nearby, but I get the feeling that everyone is definitely going to hell for this one. Not that they weren't already on the list, but this should get them VIP access.

Grade: B

Random Thoughts:

• This episode definitely had some great moments, but overall it wasn't as good as any of the last three. I'm not easily offended (otherwise I would never watch this show) but the baby funeral was a bit much for me. I didn't necessarily feel "offended," just kind of uneasy. It wasn't so bad that I wanted to change the channel, but I definitely didn't laugh. Maybe if it would have been more like a memorial service, without the visual of the tiny casket, it could have been a little funnier.

• Frank putting the dead dog in the casket almost seemed like a sweet gesture, considering how strongly Mac and Charlie felt about giving it a proper burial.

• It's nice to get a little more insight into why Dee failed as an actress: she can't cry on command.

• Best quotes:

Dennis: "Why are the urinals filled with rocks?"
Charlie: "Oh, because I filled them with rocks."

Charlie: "What the hell?? THIN LIMES? People will choke! People will die!!"

Mac: "I don't know how to express myself unless through anger and personal attack!"

Mac: "If you're not as educated or informed, you start your own party and you yell a lot."

Dennis: "People don't trust you, Frank. You're a piece of shit. And you're ugly. And you ooze sleaze. And you're very, very ugly."

Dennis: "With real power comes real responsibility, and I don't want any of that shit. I just want the money and the illlusion of power. And the puss."