It's Always Sunny In Phialdelphia S11E07 Recap: 'McPoyle Vs Ponderosa: The Trial Of The Century'

I want to run an experiment where I find people who've never seen any episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and then show them just seasons one and then 10 and 11. Because when you think about it, the character progression over the years has to be jarring. Not only in terms of the main characters (the case of how Dennis is slowly turning into a sociopath, or Mac's ever-evolving homosexuality has been well-documented over the years), but also with most of the recurring characters we've come to know over the years.

When the show first started, it was about a group of assholes who had no concern for the people around them. As time has pressed on, that neglect has slowly transformed a lot of those people into freakish sideshows. Rickety Cricket is the most jarring example that IASIP comes back to often, and every time, he looks more weathered, more depraved. But there's also Charlie's mom, who seems to admit to more and more obscure sexual acts every time we see her, same for Mac's dad. The list goes on. And then there are the McPoyles, and the Ponderosas.

To be fair, the McPoyles started off pretty weird, an incestuous, disgusting, disturbing family that often antagonized The Gang, but even they've transformed over the years, especially as the show added more and more members to their family, culminating in the raving lunacies of their patriarch, as we saw in The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre a couple of years ago. The Ponderosas, on the other hand, started off fairly normal. Now? Bill is a suicidal drug fiend who Frank, of all people, finds to be endearing in a crazy way, if that tells you anything, and his foul-mouthed, ICP-looking son has turned into his drug dealer, and Maureen is literally transforming herself into a cat. All of this is due to interference from The Gang over the years.

In "McPoyle Vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century, what they've become comes to the forefront, as Bill faces the consequences of what happened at the wedding a couple of seasons ago, standing trial (really just a $200 fine) for what happened to Liam's eyes, allegedly attacked by his brother after Pondy spiked the milk at the wedding with bath salts. Pondy is broke, since he's gone on an extended bender, so the only lawyer he can afford is Uncle Jack Kelly (another deep and buried reference from the show's past), who brings on Charlie as his aide, even though all he wants to do is enact Bird Law. The McPoyles, on the other hand, are represented by the Non Jewish Lawyer, whom we've also come to know over the years.

It's clear very early on that it's going to be one of those kinds of episodes. Incredibly self-referential and ingrained in the show's bizarre, ever-expanding mythology of fucked up characters. There's an onset of viewers who probably wouldn't like that, but there's argument to be made about the show knowing what it's doing when it's dealing with itself. There were references in last week's episode, but it was mostly a new, bizarre, unique idea. While "Trial of the Century" is entirely away from Paddy's, it's much more familiar territory, and it shows.

Interestingly, it also shares something else in common with last week's episode, in that it was instantly reminiscent of last year's incredibly memorable Charlie Work, since it highlighted one of the most underrated aspects of the show; that, when push comes to shove, Charlie is arguably the show's most competent character. While Mac, Dennis and Frank mostly screw up their plans to get Bill off the hook, and Dennis is just a sideshow, Charlie actually has a good idea, and crazily enough, it's by enacting his precious Bird Law. He finds out the McPoyles have a family bird with a history of violence, and by the end, he get Pappy McPoyle to sick it on the lawyer, proving Bill didn't do it. At the end of the line he still thought an ornithologist was able to communicate with birds, but hey, it's better than anyone else did.

In the end, if you haven't yet gotten sick of Sunny episodes that are extremely self-referential so far this season, this might be the best of those. There are some great, familiar jokes, advancement for a lot of characters we don't often get to see, and a tremendous payoff at the very end. I could understand why some may be sick of these types of episode, however, with the first two of the season and even last week's, but I fee like they've been doing a good job with them, and this might be the best of the lot.

"McPoyle vs Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century" gets 9 bird guillotines out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Goddamnit Count: 4
  • I got audibly excited when it was revealed Reginald Veljohnson would be the judge for the trial. His reactions to all their nonsense was perfect.
  • Missing in action were the two main McPoyles, although that's probably because the guy who plays Liam (Jimmi Simpson) is currently filming Westworld.
  • Lots of great gags in this episode. Bill's drug dealer son mouthing off, Dee going after the lawyer for being Jewish, Uncle Jack's hand flying off across the courtroom, but the best one was at the very end, when the next case called on the docket is the steak delivery company from "Charlie Work" vs Paddy's Pub.
  • "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much sass are you going to give me today?"
  • "What the Jew lawyer doing here?"
  • "Did you see his hands? They're beautiful. I think we should settle."
  • "Objection, she's not a cat, your honor."
  • "Mr. MacDonald, how did you come up with this information?" "Oh, I banged Margaret McPoyle."
  • "As the great Johnny Cochran said, 'If the glove doesn't fit, give up.'"
  • "I'm not an executioner, I'm just the best goddamn bird lawyer in the world!"
Comments 2
19basketball89's picture

Great episode. Felt like an old Sunny episode but with throwbacks. Uncle Jack's hand flying across the room and his horrified screams almost killed me. A lot of good lines in this episode. Good comeback after last week's disappointing effort.

George Prax's picture

I liked last week, but yeah, this was considerably better, funny throughout.