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….
This week, “The gang recycles their trash”……
The garbage men of Philadelphia are on strike, and Paddy’s is filled to the brim with bags of waste, both in the bar and outside in the alley. Following the strict formula of the show, the problem is presented right away, bitched about by the gang, and then a half-baked scheme is put into place to deal with it before the audience is introduced to the episode’s title. As they’re plotting a course of action, Sweet Dee keeps muttering how this scenario all seems very familiar. Before the title is even introduced, the careful viewer with familiarity with the show will notice that there are five different references to past episodes. After the title is laid out we find that the plot is eerily similar to the one that was concocted in The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis. As the show progresses we see that this is, in fact, the case. This episode could very well be considered the sequel to The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis. Whereas in that episode the plan is to sell gasoline door-to-door to the citizens of Philly, here we see that Mac, Charlie, and Dennis intend to circumvent the sanitation department’s union and remove the neighborhoods’ trash themselves.
The gang falls back into their A-Team style roles—which have often been traded and switched—with Frank as the brains, Dennis as the looks, Mac as the muscle, and Charlie as the wildcard. Dennis puts up a good amount of resistance to Charlie’s role at the very beginning. Learning the lesson from past mistakes, he sees little value in the role of the wildcard and wants to do away with it completely. Failing in this, he and Mac are able to predict Charlie’s wildcard antics and take measures to preempt them. That’s why when Charlie cuts the van’s brakes in a spontaneous wildcard move that we’ve seen before, Mac has the foresight to get them fixed before debarking on their trash collecting mission.
The guys have a very novel approach to trash removal. Riding around in a white limo and donning tuxes, they go from house to house, presenting their services in barbershop quartet singing telegram style for $200 bucks a pop. Once they get an inkling of how much cash they can make, the episode plunges into the greatest Philadelphia montage I’ve seen since Rocky trained to fight Apollo Creed. However, all the fanfare ends when at the end of the day their tuxes are covered in grime and bird shit. Dennis was dead against becoming a trash man in the first place, and now—regardless of how much cash they’re raking in—wants to go back to selling gasoline door-to-door.
Frank and Sweet Dee go down into the city to appeal to the union and gain a contract to collect the city’s trash. But when the man they have to appeal to is the corporate rep we first encountered in The Gang Sells Out, Frank’s plan to sweeten the deal by presenting Dee as a whore falls flat. The corporate rep is gay. So the plan is quickly altered, and instead they bring him to a business meeting at a local Chippendales. The writers do a good job of playing the audience here. Wondering if the atmosphere is having its desired effect on the corporate rep, Dee suspects that he may no longer be gay. “This man has been realigned- he’s a yester-gay. He’s gone from a twink to a twunk to a twank.” What happens next is a dialogue between Dee and Frank where Dee explains her rationale. Dee’s lines here are more suited to Dennis, and it’s probably the episode’s weakest point. The way in which the audience gets played is interesting though. The conversation between Frank and Dee is lengthy, with the camera going back and forth between the two of them the whole time. We expect that in this time the corporate rep would have snuck off, which might have been a little too predictable. But then the camera pans right back to him, and even Frank is surprised to find him still there. That’s when we learn that Frank’s pistol, which is with him at all times, has been trained on the corporate rep under the table the entire time. So although I felt the back-and-forth between Dee and Frank was almost unworthy of the show, the way in which the writers pulled one over on the audience was well done.
The gang almost throws in the towel on their garbage collection scheme. They return to Paddy’s and pop open beers and sulk. Then Mac suggest that they get carpeting in the bar, a ludicrous idea that is expanded upon by Dee as she suggest they weave their own carpets, followed by Frank’s offering the services of his “carpet guy”. This type of think-tank would be a typical introduction to a new episode, and that’s when Charlie snaps them out of it, appalled that they would just give up and move on the next episode inspiring hijinks. And he does rouse them to take further action to see their plans to fruition. But maybe Charlie doesn’t have the best interests of the gang at heart. Maybe he doesn’t care whether their mission to collect the city’s trash succeeds or fails. Maybe he has a hidden agenda. Maybe Charlie’s ulterior motive is to have one more opportunity to play the wildcard.