This week's episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” put a new twist on Season 1's "Charlie Has Cancer." This time "Charlie's Mom Has Cancer," or so she claims, having finally succumbed to Mrs. Mac's constant smoking. (Who has two thumbs and forgot those ladies were roommates? This girl.) But considering this season has been all about "recycling," I doubt anyone watching really bought that story.
The episode is less about cancer than it is about scams: quack doctors scamming desperate patients, the church scamming desperate believers, a psychic scamming desperate Dee, and Dennis and Frank trying to figure out how to scam everyone.
In this case, the quack doctor goes by the monkey-esque name of "Dr. Jinx," played with an impressive poker face by P. Diddy. Mrs. Mac tells the boys that Dr. Jinx can cure cancer for the low, low price of $4200, but they doubt his healing powers when they discover that he works out of a garage and treats Mac's arm rash (or "sailor's rot") with what smells like Miracle Gro. Not to mention his attempt to help Dennis learn to feel by slapping "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" on da bass.
As Mac taught us last week, through God all things are possible (yeah, I jotted it down), so he takes the gang to church to pray for Charlie's mom's recovery. It's not a very effective strategy though, as Charlie takes offense to the church's constant money grubbing and sit/stand/kneel routine, Mac's rash seems to have been magically cured by Dr. Jinx, and Dennis still can't muster up any real emotion for the situation.
However, Dennis is inspired by how doctors and priests are able to scam people out of their hard-earned money, and comes up with the idea to have a Beef and Beer at the bar to guilt people into donating to Charlie's mom. And as you might expect from a group who once had a fake baby funeral in the bar, they (with the help of Artemis) put her in a bald cap and painted-on lesions to help really drum up sympathy (and money) from the crowd. When Charlie forces his mom to read a "very graphic" speech about her condition, she finally fesses up that she doesn't really have cancer. Oh yeah...we've been here before.
Turns out, Charlie's mom and Mrs. Mac hit and broke their church's Virgin Mary statue, so they made up the cancer story as a scam to raise money to pay for it. When Charlie asks his mom where she ever came up with such an idea, she has her classic 80s anti-pot commercial moment: "I learned everything from watching you!"
Meanwhile, Dee and Frank have been caught up in a weird sub-plot with a psychic, who reveals that Dee's mother is still alive and that all of her money is buried around town in various spots. Everyone assumes that the psychic is full of it, until Dee digs up the dog's grave and finds a wad of cash. Eventually, the whole gang ends up in the cemetery as Dee unearths her mother's casket, hoping to find the family fortune inside. Instead of money, she finds her mom's decayed corpse, much to the amusement of Frank, who admits that he paid off the psychic to send her on this wild goose chase. Why? Because earlier Dee said that Frank was getting old and losing his edge, and he wanted to get back at her. Sounds reasonable. Don't most revenge plots include grave robbing?
• I didn't think this episode was THAT great -- and it was definitely nowhere near the level of "Charlie Has Cancer" -- but because this season has been one huge dose of "Sunny" nostalgia, all of the episodes so far have been at least pretty good. Still, I wonder if at some point all this self-awareness will morph from clever and cute to just annoying.
• Even though I didn't really get the Frank and Dee plot, Frank's pronunciation of the word "whore" will never stop being funny.
• One of the biggest laughs for me came when Mac and Dr. Jinx were talking about "The Cosby Show." It wasn't really set up to be a big joke, but Mac's delivery of "Oh, my parents would never have let me watch something like that" was hilarious. At the same time, that whole exchange kind of bugged me (especially in the context of this "memory lane" season) because in "The Gang Gets Invincible," Mac was the first person to recognize fake Donovan McNabb as the guy who played Alvin (two-time guest star Geoffrey Owens) on "The Cosby Show."
• Another subtle moment that nearly made me pee my pants was after Dr. Jinx was outed as the church gardner. As he was giving Mac advice on how to treat his rash, an exasperated Charlie yelled, "Don't get a diagnosis from him NOW!"
• Dennis is either on his way to recovery or to the top of a clock tower. This was the first time he seemed genuinely troubled by his own lack of emotions, but his breakdown at seeing his mother's body ("My mommy's a skeleton!") is the stuff horror movie villains' backstories are made of.
• I don't know which was funnier -- Charlie's mom's speech or Mac's need to point out which lines he wrote and which lines Charlie wrote. Because it's really not that difficult to figure out: "As you know, I'm as sick as a three-legged dog on the streets of India. Any minute my lungs are going to sizzle pop and disintegrate into a liquid lung and organ gumbo soup. Give me money. Money me. Money now. Me a money needing a lot now."
• The rest of the best quotes:
Dennis: “The cancer thing, for whatever reason, is just not grabbing me right now.”
Frank: "Can you get my dead whore wife back in here so I can lay into her from the other side?”
Mac: "Dude, the church doesn't give money, it takes it, all right? That's the way it works. And then you go to Heaven. Now kneel."
Charlie: "You're telling me that you believe that Christ comes back to life every Sunday in the form of a bowl of crackers, and then you proceed to just eat the man."
Mac: "Correct. You consumed his corpse and you drank his blood..."
Dennis: (pats Mac on the arm) "OK."
Mac: "It's the holy trinity: beef and beer and Jesus."
Dennis: "Give it up for Dr. Jinx. A man with a band...named after himself."