In a season finale episode, writers tend to use three methods to give the season or entire series a fitting send off. There’s the cliffhanger (24), the closure (Seinfeld) or the ambiguous, figure-it-out on your own ending (The Sopranos). For the season finale of Season 8, Sunny creators and stars Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney used a script that they wrote. This was the fifth time this season they’ve co-written an episode and the previous four were arguably the strongest of the season.
This episode is entitled: Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense. Dennis and Frank literally squabble over spilt milk while the rest of the Gang conducts a trial to determine which Reynolds is at fault for the auto accident that ruined the interior of Dennis’ car. With his role as the mature Paddy’s Pub owner becoming more and more apparent each week, Dennis threatens to take Frank to court. Dee swiftly convinces him otherwise, citing his outstanding warrants for sexual harassment and the abundance of unregistered firearms in Frank’s vehicle.
Clearly, Frank, who rear-ended Dennis’ car, is at fault for the accident but the case becomes “hazy” because Dennis assumed the risk of eating cereal while driving. In steps Charlie, finally getting to show off his lawyering chops, something he’s hungered for in episodes past. He’s waited for this opportunity and he nails it initially with his “Donkey Brains” interrogation of Frank. Charlie might be the only character in the show whose misery is actually less enjoyable than his happy moments. For a character always so down, always stepped on, whenever Charlie gets a chance to shine we embrace it.
On the other hand we have sweet, sweet Dee. She tries to be Dennis’ lawyer but he wants no part of her. She doesn’t get what she wants and maybe because the rest of the Gang so tirelessly puts her down, we believe she’ll never have her day.
In this unorganized, lawless courtroom with “trial meters” and dimwit lawyers, one small semblance of a rational defense is enough to convince Charlie, Mac and Dee of anything.
But Day, Howerton and McElhenney have to turn it into something bigger. The interrogations lose focus and the Gang gets into a debate over evolution with Mac leading the ridiculous banter. For Sunny, there’s an end goal that is always lost from sight because of the A.D.D. driven nature of the characters. This episode wasn’t going to shock anyone with the outcome. In fact, Sunny went the opposite way and made it as predictable as ever.
To settle the dispute, Dennis and Frank have to successfully drive without Dennis spilling the cereal or Frank crashing his car. Inevitably they make the same mistake with Frank rear-ending Dennis, milk covering the windshield. You see it coming as soon as they enter the cars, but it’s no less funny because they step out of the cars and the squabbling begins again, ending the season on the show’s most tangible strength. But there needed to be closure, and when Dee gets blamed for the second accident, the rest of the Gang agrees and moves on. Sound familiar?
Dennis rear-ended, part two.
Mac’s Trial Meter.
Dee getting the blame for the spilt milk is no doubt a bright moment but we’ve seen her as the butt of plenty of jokes in this series. The sunniest moment goes to Charlie for his “Donkey Brain” defense.