Last week It's Always Sunny went back to basics and let the gang just hang out in Paddy's and do what they do best: drink and scream and be insane. This week, we veer to the other extreme: a very convoluted plotline with multiple twists and turns that paid off to varying degrees. When “The Anti-Social Network” worked, it had some of the most satisfying laughs this season (all dialogue and character based, too; Sunny was light on the shocks and gross-out gags this week.) There was a lot of dead weight here as well, but luckily, the episode moved along quickly enough that none of it seemed to last too long.
The gang has decided to check out a hipster gin joint that Dee heard about on Facebook. It's got all the telltale signs of a buzz bar, most notably the lack of signage (prompting a great Charlie tangent that refused to die: "They blew on their sign until it came off because they thought it was cool? Who does that?”), which inspires the gang to get Paddy's on the social media train and revamp their business model. But the plan is derailed when a douchey bar patron shushes them for screaming over each other in the middle of the bar, as they are wont to do, and the Paddy's makeover is put on the backburner while every tries to track down the shusher and exact their revenge on him. Mac and Dee think they've found him on Facebook, but it turns out the profile was created by (bear with me here), a vindictive online stalker who had been scorned by the real Dylan Toback, who was in fact not a real person at all but another fake profile created by a lonely old lady named Catfish (Borat's Luenell, who for some reason has been strangely ubiquitous for me lately), using a picture she found on the gin bar's profile page. Dennis and Charlie, meanwhile, try to track the shusher down the old fashioned way and wind up filing a rape charge and getting a bunch of prank calls.
One of these plots is far simpler than the other, and as it happens, far funnier. Charlie and Dennis' elaborate tale of the double rape in the detective's office almost single-handedly earned this episode's keep; it's been a while since a Sunny scene had me giggling uncontrollably for that long. (It's hard to pick one quote out of that scene, but I pretty much died when Dennis oh-so-nonchalantly explained that “He did make it inside me, but just barely. And the guy was super small, so I'm fine.”) Plus, we get to see the continuation of Dennis' obvious descent into complete serial killer mode. I love how Charlie can say something like “For all this guy knows, I'm a psychopath with a trunk full of chainsaws,” and it just sounds like harmless Charlie babbling, but when Dennis comes back with “And I could be a man with a fistful of hammers, and a trunk full of duct tape, and zip ties,” it's downright sinister.
Mac and Dee's half of the episode, on the other hand, suffered a bit from having a lot more plot information to get through. I could have done without the androgynous woman and the stalker girl (though she did bring up the lock of hair, which lead to Dee's rationalization of it: “You send your hair to a guy; you give that guy a sense of you, and your smells and…”), and by the time we met Catfish, I felt like we were just spinning our wheels in Crazytown. I know lots of Sunny fans (and some previous occupiers of the Sunny recapping post) have varying amounts of patience for the show's more outlandish characters and plotlines; I don't really care as long as they make me laugh, but I get irritated a lot more quickly in the face of forced weirdness. I did get a little chuckle out of Dee's muttered “ew” at the sight of Catfish's ailing husband (a nice callback to her fear of old people) and the revelation that she had been sending her hair to one of Catfish's other creations (Carl Underguard, which I immediately thought would make a great username), but other than that, the returns were low.
I do, however, appreciate that while all this was going on, Frank hadn't forgotten what the gang originally set out to do: Make a virus video! When I mentioned that the detective's office scene was almost the strongest bit in this episode, it's because it's pretty hard to compete with a Frank Reynolds production and the return of Dr. Mantis Toboggan. The parade of Google image search photos, (“We're packed with celebrities: the fun ones!” Cue OJ mug shot, followed by cheers) and Frank in his doctor costume enthusiastically warning that coming to Paddy's Pub will give you a virus were all great moments.
It was a strong enough note to go out on, but then we got the added bonus of the arrival of the real Dylan Toback and his entourage. We push in on Dennis, his crazyeyes light up, and he tells Charlie to lock the door. The credits roll before we can see what happens next, but at this rate, what do you think Dennis' body count will be by the end of the season? Or, perhaps more appropriately, how many bodies do you think are already stacked up in that Y2K bunker?
- Loved the spot-on touch of having the gin place serve all its cocktails in mason jars. For some reason, when Charlie Kelly chugs gin out of a used jar, it doesn't have quite the cosmopolitan effect that's intended.
- I haven't seen Catfish, the film that's obviously being riffed on here, but feel free to spoil the ending because it's 2011, and I'm probably too late to get any joy out of it anyway.
- Dennis and Charlie's sign reads “RUDE MAN WHO SHUSHES PLEASE CALL” but the handwriting is strangely neat. Has Dennis caught Charlie's learning disability?
- Catfish looked like she had a bit of a Pepe Silvia wall going in her apartment.
- From the looks of it, Charlie Day was barely keeping it together in the detective's office, just adding to the utter silliness of that scene.
- Oh, duct tape camcorder. You've been responsible for so much greatness on this show.
- “The whole world is connected. It's connected by Bill Gates, and that Rain Man Zuckerberg. He and his Jews have connected the whole world and now they're toppling regimes, and Egypt, and Japan, and the Jews are all…” I could go for more Fat Conspiracy Theorist Mac.