“The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” …sort of, in the gang’s ninth season finale, but they will not apologize
What is up, bitches? I couldn’t have asked for a better gift for the season than a It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia style Turkey Day. Not only does this episode function purely as a distinctly Sunny take on a distinctly un-Sunny holiday, but it also provides a warped yet refreshing spin on the classic sitcom trope.
“The Gang Squashes Their Beefs” also functions as a triumphant season finale to a pantheon season of this landmark television show. It features hall of fame, old school callbacks like the McPoyles; rare gem callbacks like Gail the Snail; and dependable, recurring callbacks like the eternally relapsing, bath salt loving Bill Ponderosa.
This is a great, if not rare, type of Always Sunny episode. It features a simple, straight forward plot. We know that the gang’s attempts at squashing beef will ultimately devolve into some kind of chaotic, ugly conclusion. It’s the “how” that’s the fun part; all of the surprises along the way, like Cricks and Fake Bruce Mathis popping up, are layered beautifully throughout the episode. The show also gives us what we expect, like Snail handies plus Frank and Ponderosa bumping white powder. Though it is an odd Always Sunny episode that doesn’t lean heavily on the five members of the gang. Mac and Dee don’t have many laughs, and most of the humor is derived from the gang’s extensive history with their enemies. This episode is works like a better functioning version of the Seinfeld series finale. That’s saying a lot, because I loved the Seinfeld finale. Anyway, onto beef squashing!
At 1:00 pm, presumably the day before Thanksgiving, Mac and Dennis are trying to rent the unrated cut of Thunder Gun Express, with four extra seconds dedicated solely to the dude hanging dong. Unfortunately, the McPoyles are now running the video rental store, and they got mad beef over Liam losing his eye during last season’s “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre.”
Meanwhile, Charlie and Frank have no heat in their apartment because Frank refuses to pay the rent, but their landlord, Hwang, refuses to turn on the heat until the rent is paid. Charlie refers to it as a classic snafu, which it is, kind of; however, a catch-22 is the more apt description that Charlie was searching for. Hwang’s only other appearance was all the way back in season one’s “Gun Fever.”
Sweet Dee has some heavy beef of her own; she can’t get the good hoagies from the Wawa, because Gail the Snail currently works there. No one wants to eat cruddy gas station subs, just like no one wants to salt the snail. Alas, these are the situations in life that we find ourselves in.
These three main beefs set the stage for the gang to throw a Thanksgiving dinner to make peace, so their lives aren’t inconvenienced any further. This is what Thanksgiving is all about: the pilgrims and Indians sitting around and squashing their beefs. It’s not about saying sorry; it is about Dennis getting people to sign creepy documents, and Charlie cooking some squash and low grade beef.
I enjoyed Dennis using the word “preposterous” as a wink to “Mac and Dennis Break up,” and he pronounces the word “hoagies” like how Mac pronounces “Poconos” in the Christmas show and “The Storm of the Century.”
One of the best call backs/beefs of this episode is the Fake Bruce Mathis, played by Zachary Knighton. Mac surprises Dennis and Dee by inviting over their altruistic biological father, Bruce Mathis — played by the dad from 7th Heaven — for some beef squashing. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped to see Stephen Collins look down his disapproving nose at the gang. However, the surprise of seeing the wrong Bruce Mathis was ten times better. Way back during season 4’s transcendent episode, “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis,” Dee and Frank ruin this dude’s life, thinking he was the real Bruce Mathis. This Fake Bruce Mathis is a total deadbeat dad and an drug addict, so he fits right in with Ponderosa, Frank, and everyone else. Did he lose his family and become a drug addict, because his car and life was blown up by the gang?
It was nice to see another Happy Endings alumnus find some work. Can someone get Casey Wilson a job as a kleptomaniac on Brooklyn Nine-Nine that Peralta hooks up with? Can she play Harris’ waffle waitressing girlfriend on Parks and Rec?
As the party gets into full swing and the beef festers and boils, Cricket shows up. I love that when the gang is trying to squash beef, they still consider Cricket sub-human, not even worthy of their phony treaty. He gets to eat some gristle off of the floor, and Dennis gets at least one person to sign his peace document; everyone’s happy. One beef squashed.
Frank starts a money fire to spite Hwang, the two men agree about the satlessness of Saltines, and we get to see Frank comically chow down one more time this season. Gail the Snail gives Hwang a handie underneath the table — she mashes it. Naturally, things escalate pretty quickly, a food fight breaks out, and Liam McPoyle whips a tomahawk that gets buried into Cricket’s arm. Frank’s money fire has now set the apartment ablaze; the gang decides to barricade the beefers inside the flaming building and just let things sort themselves out. The gang finds themselves right where they started: getting ready to watch Thunder Gun Express in Frank and Charlie’s cold apartment, together.
The lesson, of course, is to ignore any and all beefs, bury them deep inside, and never confront any of one’s problems. Always Sunny is that guilty pleasure that tells me it’s okay to not like the people who are different than me. Those bozos and jabronis are the ones the with the problem, not me. The show indulges my selfish side; cleverly satirizes it; and then shows the folly, frustration, and perpetual loneliness of that selfishness.
This Thanksgiving, don’t try to squash beef, that only creates more beef. Do what you like, with the people you like, and everyone else can “go fuck yourselves.” Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. See ya next year.