by Maddie Ogden
(This review contains spoilers)
After a year and a half hiatus, the dark, satirical comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” made its return last night with the premiere of its 13th season. Last season ended with the gang’s seemingly never-changing dynamic being unsettled after a series of events that included Charlie (Charlie Day) finally hooking up with the Waitress, Mac (Rob McElhenney) coming out of the closet, and Dennis (Glenn Howerton) leaving the gang for his newfound family in North Dakota.
The new season opens with the gang in the midst of a new scheme. Mindy Kaling guest stars as Cindy, Dennis’s replacement and new leader. Kaling does a great job throughout the episode playing the straight man to the gang, while still feeling like the type of person who belongs among them.
This change in the gang’s dynamic is unusual for “Sunny,” but it starts to return to normal when Mac reveals the life-like Dennis sex doll he ordered. The doll rides the show’s familiar line between hilarious and disturbing as it begins to take control of the gang and causes the demise of Charlie and the Waitress’s relationship.
These strange events all come together in a particularly funny scene where Charlie and Frank walk into the bar holding the doll, with Charlie blowing into the doll’s butt to make a sound like a tuba. Kaling delivers a sharp, hilarious takedown of the gang’s actions, and accuses them of being unable to move forward. Just as they are trying to convince her otherwise, the real Dennis shows up and the gang immediately sides with him and dismisses Cindy.
By the end of the episode Cindy is gone, Charlie and the Waitress have broken up, and Dennis has returned. As Dennis calls Dee a bird and “The Boys Are Back in Town” begins to play, it seems as though the gang’s dynamic has been restored.