The beautiful thing about the Loathsome Foursome is that no matter how many times they humiliate themselves, betray each other or face rejection from the civilized world, they always have a new ambition. It must be a side effect of all that unabashed selfishness—you just can’t keep them down. It would be admirable if it wasn’t so delusional, but then again, maybe delusion is a favorable trait. It certainly makes them immune to the depressive aftermath of failure, even if the downside is borderline sociopathic behavior. They’re psychos, but they sure are resilient!
This week, the gang is working on their vocal harmonies in the hope that they can win a contest and open for Boyz II Men in Philadelphia. Dennis is the leader, and he’s exactly as marmish and negative as you’d expect. Everything is “horrible,” and the scene descends into argument when Frank bursts in with news that the city’s worst flu in years is spreading like wildfire. This sets the gang into panic, and Dennis delivers a dramatic line: “What can’t you do when you’re sick?” (When everyone replies, “sing!,” he’s annoyed that they stepped on his line.)
Everyone wants the same thing for different reasons: A quarantine.
From the beginning, it doesn’t go well. Dee wants to order a pizza, which sends Frank into a conniption: “They’re going house to house, handling money, banging lonely broads!” And Dennis’ suggestion that they stop drinking alcohol to save their vocal chords sets off a near rebellion, even though Frank is on board since booze lowers your immune system. By day two, things have settled down and the gang decides that in order to win the contest, they need to work on their backstory. They come up with a plan to pose as southerners with a stuttering problem who have watched their friends die in Iraq and are also, for some reason, carnies. Dennis is furious, but the gang is tiring of his tyranny, and they continue to add layers to the story.
Soon, Dennis gets caught ordering a pizza, and after delivering a bizarre monologue about his ability to go from flaccid to erect “at a moment’s notice” (Mac backs him up, disturbingly), everyone decides to quarantine him further by locking him in the bathroom. Meanwhile, the Boyz II Men plan develops as Charlie suggests that rather than wearing matching outfits, they all squeeze into one outfit. And yes, he draws a picture of a transformer to make his point. Dee bolsters the backstory with a story about her father—”he died in my arms of throat cancer from eating some bad pussy,” she stutters—and Mac and Dennis love it.
Unfortunately, Frank starts to go crazy. He throws food away, shaves his head, and starts to think that human purity comes from total hairlessness. Mac and Charlie head to the store for a food run, wearing the bubble suits that Charlie’s mom made him wear as a child (the mom’s suit is rigged with a built-in pouch so she could drink cocktails), and they decide to grab a couple beers. Then Mac shows off a dance move, but it rips a hole in his suit as Charlie screams “breach!” But he promises not to tell Frank, who has descended further into insanity.
So far, in fact, that he shaves his head and starts getting super into hand sanitizer. When he catches Dee drinking beer she’s hidden in the ceiling tiles, she gets thrown in the bathroom with Dennis, and Mac joins her when he sneezes and Charlie snitches on him about the breach in his suit. Charlie doesn’t last long, either; when Frank tries to shave him, he joins the gang in the bathroom.
The strange thing is, Frank’s odd logic seems right when they all get sick. Dennis is the worst, and Charlie casually tells him he thinks he’ll die. But by day six, they all look and feel awful. “I’m so hot and cold at the same time,” Dee says. Charlie decides that if he’s going down, he’s going down drinking, and he takes out two cans of bleach he’s filled with whiskey. Dennis admits that he hides liquor too, and so does Dee. They all sit down to drink together, and, miracle of miracles, three hours later they all feel better.
The answer is obvious—they didn’t have the flu at all, but were going through alcohol withdrawal. They’re thrilled, even if it confirms that each of them is an alcoholic. “What do we do with that information?” asks Charlie. Dennis has the answer:
“What do you do with any information? You stuff it deep down inside and keep an eye on it.”
And that’s when the classic justification starts. The gang goes from “I physically can’t stop drinking” to “we’re just young kids having fun!” in the space of 10 seconds, and their enthusiasm is back. Dennis asks Mac to kick the door down, but Charlie has had a key the entire time. They discover Frank wearing only his underwear, sliding across the floor in a streak of hand sanitizer, and when they bring him to the hospital they find out the Boyz II Men show has been canceled because the band got the flu.
Which means there’s only one thing to do: Go to Paddy’s and drink. That’s all they really wanted, and this latest fiasco has already slipped from their minds by the time they leave Frank’s room.