‘It’s Always Sunny’ Recap and Reaction: “The Gang Goes to a Waterpark”

Danielle Ryan

Every few seasons, the creators of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia step things up a notch. The last big jump occurred back in season seven when the gang’s antics went from deplorable to completely insane. Season 12 looks like it’s taking another huge jump into absurdity. Last week’s episode, “The Gang Turns Black“, pushed boundaries even the gang hasn’t pushed before. This week’s “The Gang Goes to a Waterpark” isn’t nearly as controversial, but is still pretty shocking.

The Gang decides to go to a waterpark, each for various reasons. Frank and Charlie intend on riding every ride in the park in one day, even though the brochure says you need three. Mac and Dee just want to go down slides, though Mac seems to have some strange desires regarding pool vents. Dennis wants to seduce women because that’s what Dennis does. The characters split off into their respective teams. Each has their own arc throughout the episode, all culminating together into one chaotic moment at the end.

Frank and Charlie

Father and (probable) son share a moment of awe.

Frank and Charlie’s adventure begins with the two of them stuck in a long line. (Also, Charlie doesn’t understand the concept of “North”, apparently.) A little boy with leukemia is allowed to pass through the line, giving the Gruesome Twosome an idea. Frank begins shouting that he has AIDS so he can get to the front of the line, with Charlie telling everyone he’s Frank’s doctor. He also specifies that Frank has “the gay AIDS”, which Frank loudly denies.

Using their newly-patented “AIDS method”, Frank and Charlie are able to ride every ride in the park in no time flat. They even go down a giant slide meant for an eight-person inner tube without the tube, simply holding hands on the way down. There’s something slightly sweet in the way the two of them get excited about riding the rides together, even if their methods are vile. After they’ve ridden every ride in the park, they discover a massive slide that isn’t up and running yet. The slide is made even more enticing for the boys because it’s a Thunder Gun Express slide, based on one of their favorite movies. Despite being told repeatedly that the slide has no water and isn’t safe for use, they sneak up to take a ride.

Mac and Dee

Mac and Dee in a very tight spot.

In typical impatient Gang fashion, Mac and Dee run up to the first slide they see and prepare to go down it. The attendant tells them that the slide is for children only and that they’re too big. Both Mac and Dee laugh, call him a nerd, and proceed to go down the slide.

Their fun stops, however, when Mac’s laminated entrance bracelet (so he doesn’t have to buy new ones each year) gets caught on the slide and he gets stuck. Dee slams into him, and shortly thereafter kids begin hitting them and joining the pileup. In an attempt to relieve some of the pressure, they try to pass kids over them to exit the slide, including one little boy who is unconscious. The visual gag is hilarious, although incredibly shocking. A lifeguard looks up and immediately returns reading his swimsuit magazine, clearly not caring that a child is possibly drowning on his watch.


After hours trapped inside the slide, the duo finally decide to try and have one of the kids chew through Mac’s bracelet. They recall a story Mac told before they entered the park about a girl who got her intestines pulled out of her body by sitting on a pool vent (a nod to Chuck Palahniuk’s infamous short story “Guts“). This leads them to believe that the child can chew through Mac’s bracelet, and hopefully free them from their urine-soaked, plastic cylinder of suffering.

Abby and Dennis

Dennis and his protégé take on the park Matchstick Men style.

Dennis tries to scam his way into an unsuspecting woman’s swimwear when things take a unique turn. While he describes his sob story about his wife dying and daughter being lonely, a preteen girl calling herself Abby shows up and asks him for money, calling him Dad. He obliges, and a few moments later catches her trying to steal sunglasses. The two of them get her out of trouble and he decides to take her under his wing and teach her how to scam the whole park.

The two con just about everyone in the park. He steals wallets, then Abby returns them and gets a cash reward. They take things from the Lost and Found, con park employees into giving them free food, and more. It’s a nod to the film Matchstick Men, and a surprising storyline for the otherwise child-hating Dennis. The duo fill a locker with their booty and continue taking advantage of any sucker that crosses their path.

Abby then tells Dennis that she has to go because her mom said so, and Dennis is infuriated. Abby gives him a squirt gun she stole from a boy and tells him to remember her. Dennis tells her she’s a genius. He tries to tell her she’d be a factory boss if she worked in China. He then realizes that she might have been thrown in a river when she was born because of her sex. Dennis then tries to tell her mom how great Abby is, but the woman informs him that she doesn’t have a daughter. Abby schemed Dennis, taking the key to the locker from his wrist when she handed him the water gun. The pupil has surpassed her master.

It All Comes Together

mac-its always sunny-waterpark
One very happy, kind of disgusting man.

Frank goes down the massive dry water slide and rips open huge wounds in his back. Blood surrounds him in the pool and kids begin screaming “That guy’s got AIDS!” Everyone rushes to exit the pool. The careless lifeguard blows his whistle and says “AIDS! Everybody out.” (This may be a reference to an old 4Chan joke about pools being closed due to AIDS, but who knows.)

Mac and Dee are finally freed and splash into the pool. Dee flips out about the possible AIDS contamination, while Mac sees the empty pool as a golden opportunity. With Jaws-esque music playing as he swims through the bloody water, Mac makes his way to a pool vent and promptly sits on it, then grins right at the camera. The episode ends with his happy, somewhat-horrifying visage.

This week’s Sunny didn’t have much social commentary, but that’s okay. After last week’s heavy episode, this week needed to be typical offensive trashy It’s Always Sunny humor. “The Gang Goes to a Waterpark” doesn’t offer much character development or meaning of any kind, but it’s hilarious.

Best Moments

  • The image of the kid face-down in the pool is one of It’s Always Sunny‘s better visual gags. It’s at once horrifying and hysterical, which sums up the best of It’s Always Sunny humor.
  • Dennis tries to come up with a country where Abby would be treated better and can’t – he actually says “What country values their women?” and comes up blank. Dennis is never the moral compass of an episode and seeing him have any kind of revelation about the way women are treated is huge. He probably won’t learn from it and will continue to be a narcissistic near-rapist, but it’s an interesting character moment.
  • The montage of Charlie and Frank having the time of their lives on the slides is just plain fun. The Gruesome Twosome may be awful people, but they’re great to each other.
  • When Frank and Charlie reach the top of the stairs for the Thunder Gun Express slide, they’re both rendered speechless. Charlie doesn’t know how to describe it, but Frank says “they shoulda sent a poet.”
Danielle Ryan
A cinephile before she could walk, Danielle comes to Fandom by way of CNN, CHUD.com, and Paste Magazine. She loves controversial cinema (especially horror) and good cinematography; her dislikes include romantic comedies and people's knees.
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