luke kalamar is always sunny…even eight season later…
Plot: Nothing is ever simple with The Gang. Recently, their past has been rearing its ugly head. Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson) had to deal with their dying Nazi Grandfather yet again, while Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), and Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) tried to find his lost Nazi treasure. Soon after this misadventure, The Gang decided to benefit from the garbage strike by starting a business. Mac, Dennis, and Charlie actually had success by listening to Frank’s advice, but Frank and Dee were less successful in trying to get take the garbage contract from city council. As if that wasn’t enough, The Gang is next seen trying to interfere with the wedding of Maureen Ponderosa (Catherine Reitman) and Liam McPoyle (Jimmi Simpson). These are all just normal days for this insane group from Philadelphia.
These first three episodes have begun an unprecedented trend in the long-running and widely popular It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia series. The Gang is always hatching some plan that ultimately leads to disaster, but very rarely are past experiences revisited solely for an episode. Sure, countless characters reappear at certain times, but the stories don’t usually connect unless their part of a single season. Dee’s mysterious pregnancy was a consistent focus of Season 6 for example, but was never really brought up again once it concluded.
Season 8 completely takes this previous trend and throws it out the window. So far, the first three episodes have direct ties with past episodes. If you were to say these were sequels of sorts, you wouldn’t be wrong. The very first episode, “Pop-Pop: The Final Solution,” brought back Dennis and Dee’s Nazi Grandfather Pop-Pop for the first time since Season 1. The third episode, “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre,” brought back Maureen and Dennis’s relationship which first appeared in Season 6 and was briefly addressed in Season 7. It was amazing watching these previous stories expanded even more than they were before.
The episode with the most references to the entire series as a whole is definitely “The Gang Recycles Their Trash,” the second episode of Season 8. This episode was so meta I felt like my brain was going to explode. Practically everything that was said was already mentioned in previous episodes. There were even moments where Charlie and Dee addressed how everything they were doing and saying was eerily similar to what has already happened before. The majority of the episode was a direct reference to “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis” from Season 4 as well. It even brought back the now infamous moment of Charlie cutting a van’s breaks and yelling, “Wild card bitches! Yeeeeeeeehaw!” It was absolutely incredible.
Out of these three episodes, the one that generated the most laughs was definitely the most recent one about Maureen Ponderosa’s wedding. This was the de facto Halloween episode of the season. What made this episode so great was how the extremely creepy and disgusting McPoyle family was vastly expanded. Before, we had Liam, Ryan (Nate Mooney), and Margaret (Thesy Surface) terrorizing The Gang. Now, they had to deal with the entire McPoyle family, and naturally crisis ensued. Plus, the revelation that the rapid cannibalism that suddenly occurred was because of milk mixed with bath salts was beyond hilarious. With all of those cannibalism stories that popped up a few months ago, it was fantastic to see it addressed on a show like this. I’m surprised other shows like South Park haven’t dealt with bath salts yet, but I sure they will soon.
I honestly really love the trend these episodes are taking, and I hope this continues for the remainder of the season. Whoever decided to go back to old stories and build on them definitely struck gold. There is so much that can be explored from previous episodes. Discovering that Pop-Pop was a hardcore Nazi was one of the best moments of Season 1, and the events surrounding that was one of the first examples of how absurd this show can be. I was so happy to see him brought back so The Gang can re-explore this whole situation in greater depth.
Season 8 is shaping up to be one of the best of the series. The laughs never stop coming, and the new depth these episodes have is incredible. With three episodes down, I’m reasonably convinced the season will continue this style. Now is the perfect time for die-hard fans to really think about past stories and guess which ones will re-appear. Will The Nightman cometh again? Will Flipadelphia return? Will we finally learn if Frank is officially Charlie’s biological father? The possibilities are endless, and I’m excited for what may come.