Always Sunny Season 16 E01/E02 Review: Aging Like a Fine Canned Wine
The two-episode return of FXX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia was everything we needed it to be: The Gang at their best being their worst.
"No matter where I go or what I do, I always get to come home. See you there tonight," was what Rob McElhenney tweeted out earlier today, ahead of tonight's return of FXX's McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson & Danny DeVito-starring It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for its 16th season. And we appreciate it because whatever it is that happens to The Gang when they head off to flex their creative muscles elsewhere, they always seem to come back to Paddy's with a season that finds a way to be even stronger than the previous one – no small feat for a sitcom that's inching closer to clocking in at two decades on our screens.
And if S16E01 "The Gang Inflates" (written by Nina Pedrad and directed by Heath Cullens) and S16E02 "Frank Shoots Every Member of the Gang" (written by Davis Kop and directed by Richie Keen) are any indication, the show could make a run at Season 30 – if that's what The Gang wants. Because after a pandemic-impacted season that saw The Gang head outside of the U.S., giving us a chance to live vicariously through them as we maintained our lockdown lives. But now? Oh, the doors to Paddy's have been thrown open again… and it feels sooooo good! These first two outings saw top-notch comedic writing & directing, supported by a cast that knows these characters better than most people know themselves. So with that in mind, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer so we can offer up some thoughts on what went down. Oh, and yes – you should expect some canon-changing revelations in these first two episodes.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia S16E01 "The Gang Inflates"
Charlie saying the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movies got "more refined" over time is the best way to kick off the season. I'm also impressed with how Dee can still be a presence in the scene just by being represented by a ringing phone.
How can you not love the fact that they've run a bar for this long and still don't have a basic understanding of the economy, finances, etc? Especially considering Frank's only an "expert" because he knows a few more smidges about business than Mac, Dennis, and Charlie do.
I'm starting to believe that Mac can be talked into literally anything at this point… selling $10 to Frank for $5 just confirmed it.
"ALWAYS SUNNY" REVELATIONS! LOL! Holy crap! Frank & Charlie's apartment actually has a bathroom and a second bedroom – and it's had it the entire time! After 15 seasons, I'm not sure what to do with that info… game-changer?
Okay… as much as I'm enjoying the episode? I'm finding myself caught up in the "Mac's lips" mystery – dammit! Is it a reaction to the plastic furniture and all of his "blowing" (a joke Dennis doesn't hesitate to jump on)? Could he be allergic to the "rancid" nuts that he's been chomping on since the episode started? Hmmm…
Charlie's apartment, Dee's desperate attempts to find a home, and Mac & Dennis' business plans – all efforts by them to "inflate" their lives.
I loved that moment between Charlie and Frank when Frank explained why he wasn't "investing" in Charlie – it's because he knows & needs Mac & Dennis to fail, so they have to keep paying him. Frank doesn't want to do that to Charlie – but Charlie sees Frank as just a predator. Interesting how that seemed to get under Frank's armor…
Dammit, Charlie! Always looking to be accepted by Mac & Dennis in ways that will never happen (look how they blew off the idea of Charlie sharing his business idea with them)- even selling out Frank in the process.
"ALWAYS SUNNY" REVELATIONS II! LOL! Frank buying Dee's building so he could evict her because he was sick of paying her rent is possible the most "Frank" thing we're seen in some time.
AND IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE! Charlie's brilliant "business move" sees him investing in TMNT pies and negotiating with Frank to get their lives back to normal – meaning it's like the revelations about the apartment never happened,
And then there's Mac… the living & breathing poster child for pure, raw & uncut stubbornness. Wow.
Season 16 Episode 2 "Frank Shoots Every Member of the Gang"
Dennis, Dee & Frank have some of the best dysfunctional dinners on television… AND THEN FRANK SHOOTS THEM IN THEIR FACES?!? Wow… just in case you were wondering if the episode would live up to its title? That's now two down, two to go.
I'm not sure I know what to do now that I know Charlie has a jar filled with his family's teeth coming his way when he turns 40 – which he already has. And Bonnie (Lynne Marie Stewart) acting nervous has us wondering…
Yup… Uncle Donald McDonald. Let that sink in… while Mac tries to get those letters from his grandfather back from where he lives… in Hamburg, New Jersey.
Wait… Charlie's sisters live in northern New Jersey and are apparently "rotten." What is with all of the canon-expanding revelations in these first two episodes?!?
Being stuck in a car with Mac, Charlie, Bonnie & Mrs. Mac (Sandy Martin) would be about the eighth level of Hell – though I'm all about Mrs. Mac's cigarette-burn silence policy.
Okay… I'm all-in on Gregory Scott Cummins portraying Donald McDonald. Oh, wow. Uncle Donald is also gay, and that moment when he tried to reach out to Mac only for Mac to put up his defenses was actually heartbreaking. Mac can't break past seeking a love from his dad that he will never get, to the point where he completely blows off someone who could be a father figure and relate to Mac in ways that Luther never could. Really effective writing in those moments, threading Mac's serious personal issues into them without sacrificing the overall absurdity of the moment. Bonus props to Cummins and McElhenney for those exchanges and Day for portraying a desperate Charlie attempting very loud "tough love" to get his friend to see the truth.
This twisted "final tour" that Dennis & Dee are giving Frank has the feel of a "last day/heading to jail/going to die" awkward vibe to it… AND FRANK THOUGHT SO, TOO! LOL! Okay, can we address how at peace Frank is at the idea of Dennis & Dee putting him down and taking his money? Though Frank preferring to be put down than give up his gun is about as direct a statement on possessive, obsessed gun owners as you could find.
HOLY CRAP! Now that we've met Charlie's sisters, Bunny & Candy? WE NEED MORE OF THEM!
But in the end, it's the legacies we make with the families that we chose to have around us that mean the most – even if they shoot you by mistake.