Review: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,"Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day" | Season 16, Episode 8
Season 16 concludes with a standalone episode that would be more fun if it weren't the finale
“I am not mad at you. I am mad at the system.”
And, just like that, Season 16 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is done. Short seasons have always been Sunny’s style, even before single-digit-episode seasons became the norm, but Season 16 feels incomplete in a way few seasons of this series have. Last season also boasted only eight episodes, but the ambitious Ireland mini-arc closed things out with a burst of originality (and, in Charlie’s case, unexpected emotional heft) that lent the brisk season a sense of completeness. That Charlie’s supposed catharsis over the dead body of his long-absent biological father is met with signature deflating irreverence by the rest of the Gang—with Charlie eventually joining in—reasserted Sunny’s horrific status quo with satisfyingly queasy finality. Season 15 was a bit scattershot and short, sure. But it went out leaving viewers secure that everyone involved was invested in the plan.
“Dennis Takes a Mental Health Day,” the ambitious capper on an up-and-down, eight-episode season of Sunny, is a baffling, even worrisome, finale. It’s a stunt episode, and a good one, for what it is. Dennis, confronted with a diagnosis of high blood pressure by his patient physician, smugly assures the medical man to forget all those medications used on lesser, non-Dennis Reynolds-es out there. “Those are for old men,” Dennis lectures his doctor, proclaiming that, by sheer force of will, he will be able to bring his elevated systolic and diastolic back into line. Dennis’ pressure seems to edge upward as he notes, with Glenn Howerton’s supercilious suffering-fools smile plastered on Dennis’ face, “If I’m chronically having high blood pressure, it’s because I’m chronically suffering fools who won’t listen to me when I say I can do things.”
Deeming himself due for a calming mental health day, Dennis sets his watch phone health app to monitor that pesky pressure (the audible beeps punctuating his adventures with accelerating frequency), takes a deep breath, and immediately gets a patience-fraying phone call from the Gang. Dee, Charlie, Frank, and Mac, left Dennis-less, intermittently pop up in Dennis’ ear through the episode to chronicle their dangerous experiments with pressure cookers and clearly spoiled foodstuffs and setting off that wrist-beeper, but are otherwise are relegated to the periphery while Dennis sets out in search of blissful and relaxing beach-bound peace.