Looking back over the past season I can’t say in all honesty that it’s been one of my favourites, but it has been far stronger than I thought it would be given the absence of Glenn Howerton from a couple of episodes and the fact that most shows in their thirteenth year often start to lag a little. Bar last week’s episode and the third set on an air plane all have been pretty strong, with The Gang Gets New Wheels, Time’s Up For The Gang and Charlie’s Home Alone all comfortably sitting amongst the best the show has ever presented us with.
I was expecting a lot from the season finale though, mainly as it was written by Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney who have been responsible for some of the very best episodes over the years, but also because it was finally tackling Mac’s homosexuality head on. Unfortunately it’s a real mixed bag of an episode, admittedly quite the curiosity for the way it ends, but the first fifteen minutes are frustrating due to the lack of strong laughs. Also disappointing is that once again Glenn Howerton doesn’t appear, and his presence is greatly missed.
The episode initially revolves around the gang creating a gay pride float to try and drum up business for Paddy’s, the latter part being a fairly standard set up for many an episode. But it of course goes wrong as they give Frank the task of getting Mac to dance on the float as they want an actual gay man to be doing such a thing, and naturally he fails to do so. When he turns up at Mac’s apartment, battering his face before entering the room because he wasn’t aware that the door was unlocked, he finds Mac in a low mood as he’s struggling to work out how he fits in with the gay world, and that he’s “not feeling very proud”. So Frank offers to help, taking him to a gay S&M orgy and then on to a drag club. The first half of the episode is littered with Frank’s offensive comments on homosexuality, with him coming out with crap like “One false move and these fairies could poke me full of holes” and though Mac calls him out on it, it’s still tiresome stuff. Throughout he’s also dealing with his busted nose and his attempts to fix it are also surprisingly bland for a show like It’s Always Sunny.
Frank finally discovers that the reason Mac’s struggling is because he hasn’t come out to his father and so they go to the prison to talk to him. Normally appearances by Mac’s father are a highlight but it’s all rather predictable as Mac fails to tell his Dad about his sexuality and due to a standard by the numbers miscommunication his father presumes he’s soon to become a grandfather. It does at least lead to the first laugh out loud moment of the episode when he tells Mac “If it’s not a boy you flush that shit out and try again” but it’s not a good sign that this takes place eight minutes forty seconds in.
Cut to the next day and Frank is using lemon juice and hot glue to close up the wound and looking like he’s at deaths door, and despite the make up being fairly gross it’s a subplot which isn’t creating anything other than the odd minor smile. Charlie and Dee show him the surprisingly impressive pride float (and there’s a throwaway line explaining Dennis’s absence) but Mac is still missing and so Frank has to set off to get him involved once again. Inevitably failing to do so he presents them with Cricket in cliched gay gear instead and this creates the second laugh of the episode, but two in twelve minutes is pretty poor going for a show like this. And that’s pretty much the end of the show even attempting to be funny.
When Frank returns to Mac’s apartment for a third time, covered in blood but looking much better, he uses a clumsy metaphor relating to this to tell Mac that he has to come out to his father, and takes him back to prison. He’s actually supportive and kindhearted for once which is out of character, but I guess even a monster like Frank has to have the occasional decent moment in his life. And before we know it Mac attempts to explain the torment in his soul to his father via the method of interpretive dance, with a track by Sigur Ros playing in the background, and a woman also involved in the dance represents God.
The scene is impressively shot and looks stunning, but I’ve very mixed feelings about it. Without a doubt a huge amount of kudos must go to Rob McElhenney for pulling off the dance so effectively but I have to admit that two minutes in I started to find myself a little bored. I don’t have an issue with the series being dramatic, and I’m a huge fan of Sigur Ros, but the dance went on for too long, and needed another element to make it captivating. That does eventually come when we see Frank in tears uttering “Oh my God…I get it…I get it” and then the prisoners (minus Mac’s Dad, who walked out half way through) applaud him, it’s an incredibly joyful moment for a character who’s spent the entire run of the show being ridiculed. I just wish that the material around it had been stronger, and then I wouldn’t have any issues with the episode. As it is it’s something of a curate’s egg, an episode that should have been much much funnier but which finally ends with a truly affecting moment, and it’s a real shame that it wasn’t a more consistent ending to the season.