"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” closed out its seventh season last night with the conclusion of last week’s high school reunion tale, and thankfully the second half was better than the first. Still, it didn’t come close to the high expectations I had for it. I may eventually come around on this (as I did with “The Nightman Cometh,” an episode I inexplicably didn’t like upon first viewing), but for now I’m calling it the series’ weakest season ender yet. (Oh, there will be rankings. Just wait.)
Picking up from where we left off last week, the gang is collectively humiliated. Dennis and Dee have been banished to their own little loser table, while Charlie, Mac and Frank have all been wedgied and hung by their pants on the bathroom stalls. When Dennis informs Dee of his self-serving revenge plan – banging Tim Murphy’s wife – Dee realizes that she needs to hook up with the other guys if there is any hope of her getting in on the revenge game.
Dee backs out when Charlie and Mac’s only plan is to reunite the Freight Train – their “gang” that also included Dooley (he offed himself a few years back) and was led by a guy named Psycho Pete, who was apparently not invited to the reunion because he threatened to burn down the school. Oh, and because he chopped up his family and ate them for Christmas dinner. This grim bit of info came from one of the reunion organizers, Ingrid “Fatty Magoo” Nelson (Judy Greer), whose now slim figure didn’t help at all with the gang’s attempts to put someone – anyone – down to feel better about themselves. (Dee sputtering nutty, mean girl nonsense at her was both hilarious and kind of sad.) Eventually, Dee decides to join the Freight Train, the initiation for which – a painful-looking thong wedgie – jacks up her back, forcing her to put on her back brace (that Frank just happened to bring along), thus resurrecting the Aluminum Monster.
None of this really makes a lot of sense. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for getting the Freight Train back together. I guess the plan is to just beat people up? Thank God for Dennis, whose part in this story is the main reason to keep watching. Seriously, Glenn Howerton has been threatening to completely steal this show away from everyone for the last two seasons, and I think he finally does it in this episode. When Dennis’ non-subtle attempt to seduce Tim’s wife fails, he SNAPS, giving the best in his ever-growing arsenal of creepy, over-the-top monologues. Standing in the middle of the auditorium, he shouts to anyone who will listen: “I am the King of the mountain top. I reign supreme over everyone in this school! I am the golden god of this place!! I reign supreme!! I! I!!!
When Dennis storms out to his car to gather up his revenge “tools” (duct tape, zip tags and gloves – a nice call-back to earlier in the season), the rest of the gang aptly dubs him the new “Psycho Pete,” and he agrees to conduct the newest incarnation of the Freight Train. However, their big face-off with the cool kids does not go as planned. Not only will they not fight (suddenly they’re “mature”) but Tim Murphy also drops the bomb that he never slept with Dennis’ prom date – Ronnie the Rat (Mac) did.
Just when it seems that the gang is going to revert to infighting and “hiding from the world” at the bar, Frank gives a powerful motivational speech. And, before he loses his train of thought, it really inspires everyone to do something to redeem themselves. In this case, that something is the mysterious “Plan B,” which turns out to be a dance routine. Yep, that’s it. Now, the gang has had some success with dancing before (and Charlie was the star of 8th grade with his “Take My Breath Away” number), so this could be just the thing to wrap this story up with a redeeming, feel-good “Flashdance”-style ending. Of course, this is “Sunny,” so even though we get to see the crowd-pleasing dance through the gang’s delusional eyes, ultimately we see it for what it really is: a bunch of sweaty people stomping around to George Michael’s “Freedom,” while a pregnant-looking Mac stands front and center, bare chested and loudly groaning. This leaves the crowd speechless, save for Adriano, who can only mutter, “Well, that was weird.” Indeed.
The sad capper comes when the defeated gang runs into the wasted Waitress, who announces that she is going to sleep with the next guy who talks to her. Cue Schmitty (Jason Sudeikis), who pops in out of nowhere, ruining Charlie’s chance for fleeting happiness. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but it bears repeating: Poor Charlie.
• Despite the great things Glenn Howerton has done with the character of Dennis, Charlie will always be my favorite. He proved why again in this episode with his speech about how kids used to solve their problems through dance, instead of giving each other blow jobs and having rainbow parties.
• Best quotes (besides Dennis’ aforementioned psycho soliloquy):
Dennis: "Listen, listen, listen…I wanna be inside you. I wanna do sh!t to you that is gonna make you realize what a worthless, boring piece of sh!t your husband really is.”
Dennis: "The golden god is not taking questions!"
Dennis: “You slept with my prom date?”
Mac: “NO. Yes.”
Dennis: “How could you do that to me?”
Mac: “It was very easy. Uh, she was a whore.”
• I didn’t forget about that ranking of the best season finales. Here it is!
#1 – “The Gang Dances Their Asses Off” (Season 3)
#2 – “The Gang Reignites the Rivalry” (Now that's a revenge episode!) (Season 5)
#3 – “Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad” (Season 2)
#4 – “The Nightman Cometh” (Season 4)
#5 – “Dee Gives Birth” ( Season 6)
#6 – “Charlie Gets Molested” (Season 1)
Keep in mind that all of those finales are A-grade. “Charlie Gets Molested” is at worst a strong B+, so now you can see why I’m so disappointed in this season’s finale.