It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Review: "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution" (Episode 8.01)
Every season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia begins with a clean slate to do more horrible things. When Sweet Dee gave birth at the end of season six, this was never brought up again; instead it was replaced with Fat Mac, or as we can all feel comfortable in calling him now, Ronald McDonald. So as season eight begins, Mac has had a sudden weight loss that allows him to fit into his leather duster again and the slate is wiped once again. In “Pop-Pop: The Final Solution,” we get an episode that feels like early It’s Always Sunny, as the episode works like a spiritual successor to the season one episode “The Gang Finds a Dead Guy.”
Back all the way in their sixth episode, Dennis and Dee’s grandfather, a former Nazi, gave Charlie a box of some Nazi memorabilia, including the entire Nazi outfit that Mac and Charlie eventually burned. Well now Dennis and Dee’s Pop-Pop is in a coma, and they have the power to pull the plug. Frank however has been taking care of Pop-Pop (how great would a Magnitude Community reference have been in this episode?), bringing (and leaving) containers of soup for him every week, in order to get the Nazi treasure the comatose man once talked about. Charlie put together that the one thing they didn’t burn was a dog painting that they believe was a Hitler original of his own dog. In Charlie and Mac’s minds, the death of this dog must have driven Hitler crazy, leading to the deaths of millions, so they go searching for the painting.
The Gang is almost always discussed as being too depraved or screwed up, but to me, it’s just that their process of getting from A to B isn’t filtered as much as any other person’s might be. Sure, sometimes that process can involve smoking crack to get on welfare or throwing a fake dead baby funeral so Dee doesn’t get audited, and yes they will get into screwed-up territory almost weekly, but to them their processes make perfect sense. At this point, with seven seasons behind them, their actions are still messed up, but now it seems natural for Dee and Dennis to go to a dog pound to see if they can kill a dog before they kill a human being. It’s just their way of doing things.
Who else could work at the dog pound cleaning up explosive diarrhea but Rickety Cricket, who asks that they kill him instead to put him out of his misery. Dee and Dennis don’t kill a dog, or Cricket—who now has a dead eye and scar from a dog attack—because as terrible as they might seem, they aren’t that horrible.
After finding some films of their Pop-Pop sending them to a Nazi Youth Summer Camp as children, the duo figure the right thing to do is to kill the old Nazi bitch. Still, they can’t bring themselves to do it, giving the power of attorney to the lawyer who just can’t seem to stay away from The Gang. Meanwhile the search for the painting puts Mac in Robert Langdon mode, thinking that this could be the key to a film about his life, where Ryan Gosling plays him, while Charlie believes the film should be a time-travel caper with him playing Hitler.
Once the plug is pulled, Pop-Pop continues to breathe on his own, and after finding the painting in a doctor’s office (and Charlie accidentally getting braces), Charlie and Mac burn the painting. Turns out Charlie painted over the original picture, which as we see burning, in a Citizen Kane homage reveal, was actually a Hitler original.
Within all the hijinks and craziness in each episode of It’s Always Sunny, there’s a level of safety within each one. Nothing too horrible or too great will ever happen to these characters. They might find a priceless painting, but somehow we always know they’ll never become rich or famous off it. They can set free Cricket and a bunch of wild dogs from the pound that attack enough people to back up the ER, but they’ll never be put in prison. They have the ability to do whatever they want without ever having to pay the consequences, like an immoral Groundhog Day. Dee might get pregnant or Mac might get fat, but It’s Always Sunny will always remain the same at its core: the worst instincts of people without filters. Eight seasons in, it still feels great to slum it with this gang.