IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA “Psycho Pete Returns” Recap
This episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia takes somewhat of a darker turn in tone and story. Nothing too surprising here for long-time fans, but it is a noticeable change from the more laugh-out-loud lightness of the first two episodes. With the return of Charlie and Mac’s high school friend “Psycho Pete” some of the Paddy’s Pub gang end up facing their own inner demons. Dennis and Frank in particular have intimate interactions with their psyches, though, one ends up self aware and the other remains in denial. It’s no surprise which is which.
Psycho Pete had been mentioned multiple times in the two part high school reunion season seven finale by Mac and Charlie as they reminisced on his insanity. The two of them are overjoyed at the beginning of the episode, arriving on screen singing and dancing, lifting the entire cast’s mood. Once the mini-celebration ends, they inform the rest of the gang that they are overjoyed because Pete is to be arriving any moment for a reunion. The psycho was released from the mental asylum! Dennis, Dee and Frank immediately freak out, fearing having a man who ate his own family for dinner on Christmas at their bar, even if he was released by doctors. The three naysayers lay on the verbal degradation of people with mental illnesses with Frank reminding everyone that he spent time in a “Nitwit School”, and is acutely aware of how crazy people can be. Pete, is of course already in the bar and overhears everything. The nice, normal if somewhat sad and frumpy looking man introduces himself to the gang who does not recognize him at first. Charlie and Mac soon leave the bar, running away from this new boring Pete that they don’t like. Then in a similar fashion Dennis, Dee and Frank leave the bar, running away from the presumed psycho. Everyone runs. A sad Pete is left alone in the bar. If the slightly depressing tone of this episode hadn’t made itself known to viewers earlier it is certainly clear now.
Mac and Charlie end up turning to Cricket, making his first appearance this season, as Mac hopes he can absolve Pete of his sins so he will go back to being crazy, since God has given him the go ahead. Mac’s religious ramblings have been hilarious this season and are so far fetched and absurd that pretty much everyone will be left shaking their head and snickering. Cricket’s first appearance each season always entails the reveal of a new gang-related ailment. Remember the Thanksgiving episode at the end of the last episode where the gang invited Cricket over and then their house caught on fire? With cricket still inside? Cricket remembers even if the rest of the gang has somehow forgotten. The left side of Crickets face is entirely covered in scar tissue. Even with his new scars he agrees to absolve Pete for a six pack. For the rest of the episode Cricket is a one-note character with nearly all topics and jokes revolving around hobo sex, blow jobs and drugs. Though, somewhat funny, this shtick will hopefully add something new later this season before Cricket becomes a flat, one-note character lost in the wasteland of support comedy.
Dennis, Dee and Frank end up heading to the mental hospital where Pete was originally. Dee and Dennis provide the funniest moments and conversations this episode. The first of these conversations happens as Dee tells Dennis that the government has been closing down many mental hospitals due to a lack of funding. This scares Dennis enough to cause one of his famous yelling outbursts. Dee informs him that the answer to this problem is to raise taxes. Again Dennis has a yelling outburst. The cycle of this conversation repeats itself a few times with Dennis getting more and more irate but agreeing that the taxes he pays should be used on sports teams like the government has recently done. Dennis is known for tantrums and failing logic loops that compound his frustration, but between last week’s episode and this one, it seems that he may be cracking more and more! While Dee and Dennis are hashing out psychos and taxes, Frank is having flashbacks of himself and his boyhood friend Froggy. He actually ends up finding his old room as this was the “Nitwit School” he was sent to as a child. Watching Frank have a senile-like break is always funny, seeing how crazy he was as a kid and the impact it has had on him as an adult is just as great.
With the goal of acquiring some drugs for Pete Dee, Dennis and Frank leave the closed hospital to head to an open one. They end up meeting with a doctor and providing the three best monologues of the episode in a situation reminiscent of their past interactions with their ex-lawyer. A frazzled Frank goes off about finding his half-amphibian childhood friend. He grills the doctor for information he clearly doesn’t have. Dee then breaks in to her piece, quoting movies attempting to win the doc over. Her over the top facial movements and constantly changing accent reconfirms that Kaitlin Olsen‘s Dee is one of the funniest characters on television. Barely a second after Dee finishes Dennis begins his rant as Glenn Howerton gives his funniest speech about killing Dee to date! This pair of actors have some of the best (dysfunctional) sibling chemistry seen on television to date.
Eventually the gang all ends up back at Paddy’s where Charlie, Mac and Cricket have begun their planning for Pete’s exorcism. Dennis and Dee arrive having procured prescription drugs for a personality disorder. According to Dennis, they are for Pete. According to Dee, they were prescribed to Dennis directly. Frank then arrives with a gun having realized that he was in fact Froggy and a mental relapse could happen to Pete at any moment. Pete calms the gang by telling them he wasn’t a psychotic, he was just suicidal and depressed. He had reconnected with Charlie and Mac because he thought they were his friends and would help him deal with his depression. An awkward moment occurs and then a cut to the gang sending Pete away on a train as they can’t even deal with their own problems, much less someone else’s. Though, they just seem to not want to bother helping, still largely oblivious to their own faults.
In conclusion, Cricket’s return is always welcome while ideally he will evolve sometime this season. Dennis’ tantrums seem to be growing in frequency and will hopefully become something of a running gag or plot thread. This was a solid episode, though repetitive and more depressing than the last two. It’s Always Sunny season ten has yet to be less than good, if not great.