It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S12E08 Recap: 'The Gang Tends Bar'

In a season of It's Always Sunny In Phialdelphia that's seen The Gang go to new, dark places creatively such as a dream sequence body switching musical about racism, a Making a Murderer spoof and a no holds barred discussion about hate crimes and language, the idea behind "The Gang Tends Bar" seems like the show getting back to its roots, like the regular old Paddy's focused episode that seems fleeting at a time where, in its twelfth season, the show has grown much bigger than just being about five asshole friends who run a bar.

At least on paper. In practice, "The Gang Tends Bar" is a narrative swing as large as any of the others this season, if not bigger. It satirizes the very concept of the show itself and, what's more ends it with the complete lack of a payoff too. The episode somehow manages to be both completely predictable as well as refreshing at the same. It's familiar yet different, sweet yet a new level of depraved, all while striking a narrative balance that works really well for what we all know and love about Sunny. There's enough here to satisfy both the Sunny purists who lament about the days when The Gang hung around the bar more often, but also those of us who appreciate that the show has also become something different.

The episode has Dennis instructing the rest of The Gang to, for once, actually do their jobs and help out the bar, since Valentine's Day has brought in an influx of lonely people to the bar. He doesn't want to talk about Valentine's Day or anyone's problems, he doesn't want to do any schemes or promotions around the holiday, he just wants everyone to work. Immediately, no one buys it, as Mac and Charlie pair off to clean up the weird yuck puddle in the bathroom and figure out what's up, while Dee and Frank try to unclog the soda lines and do the same. All wind up figuring out that Dennis secretly wants them to celebrate he true meaning of Valentine's Day and work out their problems, for Dennis.

Charlie's problem is that he's jealous of Frank's tapeworm, Jerry. He thinks that Jerry is replacing him, when in fact Frank got it on purpose in the dark web in order to lose weight for Charlie, which he thought he wanted because of a misunderstood conversation. Dee feigns hurt feelings about Charlie not getting her a Valentine when in fact she just wants him to sound like a loser singing a romantic song to her, a twist on an old game where they used to play sending worse and worse hate mail to each other on Valentine's until someone sent anthrax.

Well, it actually turns out that it was Dennis that sent the anthrax, feeling left out because no one ever sent him anything. That's why he doesn't want to deal with anything Valentine's related and just wants everyone to work. But it turns out that someone did think of him, as Mac is considerate enough to order him the one thing he's always wanted (because of his newly discovered gay senses, I guess?). The crate that Mac has wanted to open the entire episode actually had an RPG he bought him on the dark web.

I can't really put my finger on why, other than obviously the whole RPG thing, but this may be one of the low-key craziest episodes of the show. It feels like a fever dream, and all they really do is actually work in the bar and yell at each other. There's a weird blob of goo like the one in that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that killed Tasha Yar, Frank gives himself tapeworm by stuffing a teaspoon of shit into his own ass, Cricket's around doing PCP, Dee threatens to kill everyone with anthrax, Dennis unironically loves getting a weapon, there's even a sassy black lady that may or may not have replaced Dee. None of this really makes any sense, yet it somehow works, and is somehow everything I kind of want out of a Sunny episode these days.

It's not quite the peaks the show has reached this season with some of the higher concept episode, but a purposely low concept gives It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia another great episode in what's turning out to be their best season ever. "The Gang Tends bar" gets 9 amorphous shifting blobs out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Goddamnit Count: 6.
  • I really need New Dee to become a recurring character.
  • My favourite gag from this episode is how everyone assumes Dennis wants them to trick someone else into clearing out the soda lines.
  • "You want me top put pink in in the beer, make it all inky and pink?"
  • "It's an intestinal parasite incapable of complex thought!" "You just described my ex-husband."
  • "Woozy, woozy! Woozy from sucking limes!"
  • "That song was derivative of a song I wrote for The Waitress, anyway."