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By Alex Zhora

When any show reaches its ninth season, a common thought is that inescapable decline of quality is near enough, and writers hinge on their own wish fulfillment is, to some extent, the irresistible choice. Not so in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There are great moments in every episode aired this year, and even more this week, which marks the series’ 100th episode milestone.

Directed by Daniel Attias, who has done some remarkable work on Homeland and The Killing, “The Gang Saves the Day” includes several segments or so-called “flashes”. They are all good – Mac’s physical comedy, Dee’s witness protection program, Dennis’ rehabilitation, Frank’s hot dogs, and, finally, Charlie’s life with the Waitress. The last one, a sentimental tribute to Ratatouille and Up, is actually an animated piece with enough changes and grasp to stand on its own. Granted, every daydream happens only in each character’s head during an armed robbery, but they suddenly seem so real, which was almost enough to make me forgive some of episode’s scattered plot lines.

But almost is never enough. Why, for instance, are visuals so cartoonish in an otherwise great first flash? The episode also repeats one sequence too often, while the Dennis & Jackie storyline denouement was a cop out.

Surprisingly, the thing that holds the episode together is its ending. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Frank says, and you can guess what happens next. Because after all, Sunny has always been about five of the worst people in the world, no matter how bad is Yakuza. I’m most moved by the episode’s ability to not sideline any of them and act as a showcase for an impeccably talented main cast. (Worthy of her own note is Kaitlin Olson, who is giving one of the most mesmerizing comedy performances on TV this season.) Still, it’s comedy genre gold.

Grade: B+

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