This week’s episode picks up where last week left off—in Dennis’ apartment, where he’s deep in the throes of connubial misery with his impromptu wife, the bad-breathed, dead-toothed, crazy-cat-heads-glued-to-her-sweatshirts Maureen Ponderosa (who doesn’t look half-bad on her side and in a T-shirt).
Dennis is trying desperately to get to work (that’s an odd sentence) while his new bride coos at him to come cuddle (and I love the subtle implication in his automated response “There’s cab fare on the table”). As it turns out, Maureen doesn’t have a job, another check on the ever-growing list of her annoyances, which is just about to send Dennis over the edge.
Back at Paddy’s, where Mac has taken up residence after getting thrown out of Dennis’ apartment, Frank and Charlie are going over their own marriage, namely what Charlie brings to the table, which is, as Frank puts it, “diddly-squat.” Makes sense. And Sweet Dee’s reeling from her new car, purchased by her current infatuated conquest, Dennis’ brother-in-law, Bill Ponderosa.
All the talk of marriage and Dee being a whore (did I mention that Bill Ponderosa’s married?) makes Dennis realize that he never got a bachelor party, so he, Mac, Frank, and Charlie head to the nearest strip club. After a brief discussion over how much money it takes to “make it rain” and some haggling over a couple’s discount, it’s pretty clear that both marriages are heading down the tubes.
Dee returns to her apartment to find Bill, whose wife’s thrown him out of the house and frozen his assets, prompting him to claim residence at Dee’s, seeing as how she broke up his marriage. Makes sense.
Dennis and Mac return to his apartment, wasted enough for Dennis to lay into Maureen, listing all her failings in an awkward scene that seems nasty even for this show. He caps the tirade off by shouting “divorce,” and Maureen’s response is to throw the two out by threatening to tell the cops that Dennis beats her…and then she starts hitting herself. Yikes.
Frank and Charlie’s domestic situation comes to a head and the two also decide to get a divorce, but Charlie, in a rare moment of prescience, requests a mediator. Dennis (now living at the bar as well) also wants to get in on some hot legal action to facilitate his divorce, and Frank recommends getting the same lawyer they always get until Mac points out that that particular lawyer has issued a restraining order against them. Charlie bats 2 for 0 and suggests getting his Uncle Jack, apparently the one man in the Kelly family whose life has elevated to some point above the gutter (but he still has weird hands).
Now back to Dee’s place, where she throws the hopeless Bill (why is it every man who becomes infatuated with Dee has his life ruined? And will we ever see a showdown between Bill and Rickety Crickets?) out of her apartment. However, in an equally rare moment of charity, she agrees to drive him to his house so Bill can patch things up with his wife…but all he does is kidnap his own children.
Now back to the bar. Uncle Jack proves to be an uncharacteristically adept mediator, winning Charlie possession of the hot plate, and there’s a slight reconciliation over Charlie’s insistence that Frank take the elephant drawings he did for them. Words can’t do the scene justice, but the sheer heartfelt surrealism of who gets Charlie’s elephant drawings ranks among Sunny’s finest moments as all three decide they’re not bad.
Jack’s work for Dennis doesn’t go so smoothly, as he gets back the apartment but teams up with Maureen’s lawyer (the same one who took out the restraining order on the gang) and saddles Dennis with Maureen’s debt. Dee, doesn’t fair much better, as she gets caught up among Bill’s wife, who takes the kids, and his other mistress, who takes the car.
I was a bit worried that this episode would follow in last week’s lackluster footsteps, but I was happily surprised. Dennis’ verbal assault on Maureen comes off as cruel more than funny, but that’s the only lag. Andrew Friedman’s performance as Charlie’s obsequious Uncle Jack is a fine addition to Sunny’s cast of perverts and misanthropes, and I hope we’ll be seeing more of him this season. And Dennis’ fake strangling of Maureen is such a perfect example of “What he’s thinking/what she’s thinking,” that the abrupt cut to the title kind of weakens the joke.
After a nervous start, “Dennis Gets Divorced” is a cheerfully dark ray of sunshine.