It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 8, Episode 3 Deconstructed

by: Douglas Grant

Our weekly recaps continue discussing the adventures of five of Philadelphia’s most depraved underachievers in ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’. Pull up a stool at Paddy’s Pub as we let you in on “The Gang’s” adventures….

The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre

I had my reservations going into this episode. In the season premiere I rejoiced at the return of some classic characters. Last week I was content to go on the hunt for some Easter eggs that acknowledged some of our favorite plot-lines from the past. But with this week’s episode approaching, I was worried that the writers would fall back on too many bits that have come before, and that the show might be starting to lose some of its momentum in the fresh ideas department. I’m so glad my fears were for naught. Not only was last night’s episode one of the funniest I’ve seen in quite some time, with some of best lines of late, but it also gave us something we’ve never seen before: a Halloween episode with blood-red lettering in the opening credits accompanied by a creepy musical score. This scary avenue is one that the show has never taken before, and it worked.

There was homage paid to a lot of the sub-genres of horror in this episode. It opened up with the home video style shot chasing Mac, Dennis, and Charlie through the woods (a la Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity). Frank’s inexplicable and perfectly timed bat bite was a tip of the hat to the vampire movie. And by the end of the episode the whole McPoyle wedding reception has been turned into zombies. There’s even the mythical aspect to the episode, as in a flashback scene Ryan McPoyle tells Dennis and Dee that he must stop his brother, Liam, from marrying Maureen Ponderosa because the McPoyle family line has been kept pure for over a thousand years by inbreeding. Even Charlie’s lengthy and accented monologue in the style of Quint supported how deranged his character is while paying respect to the influence of Jaws.

If the producers were going to bring back any classic characters for a Halloween episode, then the McPoyles and the Ponderosas were perfect choices. Rather than being reused and recycled, the McPoyles have only ever been expanded upon, and their entire creepy extended family was introduced to us here in macabre fashion. And in the end, when Dennis realizes that his bail has been paid by Maureen as she comes into the interrogation room to claim him, wearing one of her lurid purple kitten sweaters, he cries out as if he’s met the Grim Reaper himself, a perfect dark ending to a dark episode.

Even with the whole wedding party going crazy and the whole scene on a rapid downward spiral, I was wondering how far the show was going to stretch the whole zombie scenario. We are talking about a sitcom here, but the show has never visited the supernatural before. And even though the McPoyles are way out there, we’ve never seen them so far gone as we have in this episode. I don’t know why this was at the back of my mind, but it was explained in due time. It turns out that Bill Ponderosa spiked the milk bowl (no booze at a McPoyle wedding) with bath salts, which we all know cause everyday Americans to want to eat each other. Even Dee’s demon-possessed attack on Mac and Charlie is explained within the confines of our bona fide world.

Dare I say that this episode actually creeped me out a little? The McPoyle cousin who hisses at Frank and Dee as she crawls along the floor with her appendages wrapped around her like a pretzel, Excorcist style, actually made me cringe. And the detached look on Dee’s pale face before she went psychotic on Mac and Charlie was mildly disturbing. The producers certainly captured the spirit of the holiday with this one. Though I doubt that this is something they’ll bring back every year like the Simpsons do, I certainly won’t have any objection if they decide to make an annual tradition out of it. The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre was an instant classic as far as I’m concerned.

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