Concluding its strong 10th season, the gang of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are about to dabble in the unstable world of cults. Ass Kickers United: Mac & Charlie Join a Cult has the creative crew of Always Sunny making the most of having years of character development, something they’ve done throughout this entire season, to make the most of the backwards situations they put their characters in.
This week opens with Frank (Danny DeVito) and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) planning on using Dee’s apartment for the purposes of a Turkish bath. Upon entering her apartment, however, Dee (Kaitlin Olson) is greeted by the sight of Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Charlie (Charlie Day) working out with a couple of strangers. The two are now members of Ass Kickers United, a cult led by The Master who has found “enlightenment through the way of the warrior.” But there is no Master, just Dennis trying to play upon Mac’s insecurities in order to get him to stop consuming his Thin Mints. Upon seeing the success of Dennis’ manipulation, Frank and Dee want to write their own religious doctrine that might suit their own desires. Frank wants women to join and possibly make someone consume an excrement sandwich. Dee just wants Dennis and Mac’s apartment to be reconstructed. But the three manipulators all have different wants and that leads the Ass Kickers in various directions before, of course, devolving into total chaos.
What keeps the episode moving along, and provides the best laughs, is the manner with which our familiarity with these characters prevents the episode from having to over-explain their motivations. Dennis is just concerned about manipulation for the sake of it, as he’s done repeatedly over the show’s decade-long life. Frank, as usual, is only concerned with exploiting people’s beliefs to suit his own depraved desires. And Dee tries to get something to go her way and fails. It also plays on Mac’s long-repressed homosexuality and his extremely liberal interpretation of religious texts. Charlie is just following along this time. But this season has also placed an emphasis on the repercussion0073 of the gang’s horrific actions. Because Mac and Charlie weren’t the only one’s manipulated by Dennis’ imagined religion, they end up dragging other people down to the rabbit hole of insanity. As one of their unintended consequences is Jojo, played by Dax Shepard. While I’m not exactly a fan of Shepard, he is more than an adequate playing a thick-skulled moron.
Ass Kickers United isn’t among the pantheon of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but it is another solid episode in another solid season. With the show renewed for 2 more seasons, the cast and crew of Always Sunny have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they’re in no danger of running out of steam.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Wednesdays at 10pm on FX and is streaming through the FX Now app