It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S12E09 Recap: 'A Cricket's Tale'
Among the staple episode types of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the ones firmly ingrained in the show's own lore and history tend to be the most inconsistent. Not only do you run the risk of getting lost in some obscure reference lost in the sea of twelve seasons' worth of episodes, but they also tend to shed one of the things that make this show so great in the first place. Focusing on the lore sometimes means that The Gang themselves become a side attraction in their own show.
That's exactly what happens in "A Cricket's Tale", and why I'm sort of conflicted about it. There's a lot of good here, like the Cricket backstory that it gives us, and how it surprisingly weaves into the past two weeks of episodes with featured Cricket cameos, or Cricket's parkour and his Lady and the Tramp date. But it also fell short in certain regards. The Gang was only in a couple of scenes and ostensibly ones that we had seen over the course of the last two weeks. I know that may seem like a trite complaint, but we're at a point where we only get ten episodes of Sunny a year with a full year-long break in between seasons, dedicating even one episode to a side character winds up being kind of a lot, especially in a year like this where The Gang is taking, in their own words, big swings with many of the episodes.
"A Cricket's Tale" is a big swing that probably just about succeeds at hitting the mark, but conceptually, that's a problem I have with it even existing. But I suppose in a season where I've already given the show two perfect 10 scores and several other 9s, there's only so much complaining I can do about The Gang trying something different. Because when you break it down, the aforementioned positives about the episode are pretty good.
The story shines a light into who Cricket really is. He's approached by his father, who offers him a job at the family business, because he wants to retire and leave it for Cricket and his brother. Cricket has trouble adjusting at first, the kind you'd expect of a PCP-toking street rat, but things start to go well for him when he meets a girl, Belle, who seems to like it for him. Instantly you can tell that, even for this world, this girl seems too good to be true. You figure she doesn't really exist or is an inanimate object, but the truth is even better; she's Cricket's dad's dog. That's right, the Lady and the Tramp montage I mentioned was a literal Lady and the Tramp montage, and Cricket was just making out with a dog the entire time, because when he hit up Paddy's bathroom to clean himself up, he didn't throw away the PCP, he smoked it and was just high on it this entire time.
So Cricket loses the account he jumped off a roof and threatened a man in order to save, and faced with an ultimatum to clean himself up or go back on the streets, he chooses the streets.
I have some problems with the logic of a father just offering a job to his severely deranged son with hard drug problems, but it works within the vain of this show. Cricket doesn't feel like a real person after everything that's happened to him over the years, and even though they're giving him a back story, keeping it inside of that whirlwind of incredulity sort of grounds it, in a weird way. Plus Cricket is supposed to be super high the entire time anyway, to the point where he mistakes a dog for a beautiful girl. How his father could trust him or not put him in rehab or why the dog was in the middle of the street doesn't matter.
And then there's the best part of the episode, how it ties in with both "PTSDee" and last week's "The Gang Tends Bar". Cricket is in both those episodes in passing, he plays the McConnaughey role in Dennis and Charlie's stripper scheme in one episode and he's essentially used as a prop in the bathroom in the other. There's really no need to explain why he's around, since he often is, but this entire episode is basically an elaborate reason to explain what he was doing and what brought him to the bar both times. First to gather money for his date with Belle, and then because he chooses the low road when his father offers him an ultimatum. It's needlessly complex and sort of justifies everything about the ridiculous stuff this show pulls forward with it throughout the years.
"A Cricket's Tale" is a dumb, unnecessary episode of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. But you could say that about even the episodes I wind up giving out 10s to. It's dumb, but it's fun and ridiculously elaborate, and while I'm not a huge fan of the show devoting an entire episode to a side character, it's still good enough for 7.5 lemon slices out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- Goddamnit Count: 4, all by cricket pretty much in the same sentence.
- I'm kind of bad with this stuff so I don't know if we already knew anything about Cricket's life, like the fact that his real name is Matthew Mara.
- The funniest thing in this episode is how Cricket sucks lemons.
- "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm the suck boy you're looking for."
- "Are your organs claimed? Had to ask, it's a seller's market right now."
- Cricket's ridiculous, caricature of a brother: "Sorry I said that about Carl Lewis."
- I missed my review for "PTSDee". It was a dumb, funny episode that was maybe the worst of the season, but Dennis and Charlie as "Daddy and the Boy" doing an uncomfortable catch-themed striptease to "Cats and the Cradle" might be the single funniest moment in the history of Sunny.