If last week's episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” suffered from too much Frank, this week's benefited from a whole lot of Charlie. 'Cause there can never be too much Charlie.
As a matter of fact, "Charlie Rules the World" made me feel like I've actually been suffering from a Charlie deficiency. I just got to thinking about how Charlie Day was the breakout star of the show in the first few seasons, but seemed to take a step back somewhere around Season 5. Or maybe it's just that the last few seasons have been totally owned by Glenn Howerton, who's turned Dennis into one of the most fascinatingly sickening TV characters ever.
Sure, we've seen plenty of "Weird Charlie" and even some "Evil Charlie," but "Crazy Charlie" is the one I miss. Crazy Charlie is my favorite. He's a guy very much like Daffy Duck, constantly coming up with schemes to better his situation that only end up backfiring and making him more miserable. And it's not because he's stupid. Charlie may be illiterate, but he's actually a very smart guy. I mean, that plan he came up with in "Mac Bangs Dennis's Mom" to get a date with the Waitress (and get revenge on Dennis) was pretty intricate...and it would have worked too, if it hadn't been for that meddling Frank.
This week, Charlie gets to flex his thinking muscles again when Dee asks him to help her play Techpocalypse -- an interactive video game in which she's a queen and actually has a good life. Charlie ends up being even better at the game, and once he realizes that he can thrive in this virtual world, he convinces Dee to "consummate" their relationship, making him King and ruler of their tribe.
The rest of the gang is out dancing (yep, just three dudes dancing) at a mostly empty bar when a gamer recognizes them from Techpocalypse. Apparently Dee is like the Picasso of avatars, because strangers can recognize the guys in real life just by looking at their virtual characters. This prompts Mac and Frank to create new characters and get in the game. In a weird attempt to convince Dennis that virtual experiences can be fulfilling, Mac and Frank show him one of his old sex tapes -- a particularly odd one in which Dennis seems more interested in cutting his conquest's hair than banging her -- explaining that they're all aroused watching it even though there's no real woman in the room. Dennis can't get behind this logic though, and continues to shun the e-world in favor of trolling the mall for "real experiences." When he can't seem to "draw in" (or "lure in," whatever you wanna say) anyone, Dennis ironically ends up in a sensory deprivation tank. There he creates his own universe where he meets his British doppleganger...and blows him. Not only is this a good call-back to the beginning of the episode (when Dennis said if Charlie ever rules the world he'd blow himself) but it's also kind of an inevitable experience for such a narcissist to have.
As the gang becomes more immersed in the Techpocalyptic world, Charlie becomes more powerful and respected. He manages to make Dee utterly subservient to him, and starts wheeling and dealing for swag with real life gamers whose priorities are enough out of whack that they'll give up mink coats for a few extra virtual crops. Eventually, he sets up a real life meeting with another of the game's queens (not a fattie like Mac predicted), who seems to like Charlie until he gives her a box full of spiders and reveals that he just wanted to get her away from the game so that his tribe could destroy her village. There may be no better illustration of the life-ruining effect of gaming addiction than the sight of a woman who was once attracted to Charlie dousing him in Kool-Aid and storming off while he declares that if he's winning in the game, he's winning in life.
And just as Charlie is nearly about to get Mac and Frank to give him their shares of the bar in exchange for his continued help in the game, Dennis saunters in and announces that he's a god, which is above a king -- meaning that he erased all of their game characters. And then it just sort of ends.
• I really can't get enough of Crazy Charlie's freakouts. His scene with Dee where he berated her for not realizing that they should "ALWAYS be playing the game" was fantastic. It was right up there with the way he chewed her out when she complained about her song in "The Nightman Cometh."
• Is it wrong if I found Charlie's consummation talk ("So...push Enter...hard?") kind of hot? Whatever, he's looking exceptionally cute these days. Is he putting on mass?
• Dennis really loves that soft rock. "Let's Hear it For the Boy" and "All Night Long?" Fantastic. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who had "All Night Long" in my head all...night...long.
• Dee should keep the Flo Jo nails. They're a good look for her.
• I've got milk, flour and vitamins on my grocery shopping list. Everyone's getting gift bags of energy balls this Christmas.
• Coincidentally, "paddyspub" is my password for everything, too!
• Techpocalypse is real. Hmm, was this whole episode just a big commercial?
• Was anyone else cringing in anticipation during Dennis's sex tape, thinking "Is this when we finally witness him rape and/or murder someone?" We just saw a LOT of "preamble," water spritzing and hair cutting. There was a semi-forced BJ and some very awkard and uncomfortable-looking sex (he "entered her with almost no resistance"), but nothing outright criminal.
• The show took a short break from beating us over the head with Mac's probable gayness, but it was back in full swing last night. One of my favorite moments of the episode was his conversation with Charlie, who told Mac he'd hook him up with someone "ugly or sick or male or female...whatever it is that you like." And then how casually Charlie dismissed Mac's reassertion that he "hates women" with "Yeah, I know that you feel that way."
• I think this episode helped to strengthen my point last week about keeping Frank as a fringe character. In short bursts, he is brilliant. I loved his "real housewife" of Techpocalypse persona, and the scene of him disgustingly eating peaches was vintage Frank. Plus, he had the best quote of the night: "We don't even know if we're in this room. We could be in a turtle's dream in outer space."
• The rest of the best quotes:
Mac: "Look, Dennis, I'm 6'10". I've always wanted to be 6'10"!"
Dennis: "Does anybody wanna experience this? Does anybody wanna experience me? FOR REAL?"
Dennis: "The goddamn game was irritating to me. I thought it was really stupid. And it really is just, you know, sort of that simple, so I ended the game. You know? That's the end. Doesn't have to be a whole big thing every single time, you know, that's just life. That's just sorta how...how shit goes! HAHAHAHA! Sometimes things just sort of end."