'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' meets 'Game of Thrones': The birth of Smart Charlie

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Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FX

Tonight’s episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had an uncharacteristically highbrow vibe, taking its inspiration from the classic short story Flowers for Algernon and name-dropping Leo Tolstoy and Stephen Hawking, and that was no mistake: Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are friends with the Sunny crew, wrote the script. (The episode was dubbed “Flowers for Charlie,” but we prefer our alternate title: Game of Bar Stools.)

We start out with the gang visiting a science lab for — what else? — a quick buck. They all fight to prove who’s smartest and therefore deserves a spot in this “intelligence experiment,” but the scientists quickly zero in on Charlie (Charlie Day), who repeatedly electrocutes himself while trying to steal cheese from a lab rat. The scientists (one of whom is played by Day’s Pacific Rim co-star Burn Gorman) are actually looking for the least brainy subject to try out some experimental pills that multiply a person’s intellect. They’ve found their man.

The most delightful part of this episode are the many one-liners from Smart Charlie. “Stephen Hawking is much more of a Lady Gaga than a Johann Sebastian Bach,” Charlie muses in his best pompous-professor accent. “He’s a pop culture figure, like the Kardashians.” Smart Charlie speaks Mandarin, turns down a Gruesome Twosome Tuesday screening of Police Academy: Mission to Moscow with Frank (Danny DeVito), and, most shockingly, blows off the love of his life, The Waitress (Day’s real-life wife Mary Elizabeth Ellis), after her vapid ramblings about Tabatha Takes Over.

But Smart Charlie’s rocket ride to Mensa comes to a halt when the scientists present their findings: The pills are merely placeboes and Charlie has just convinced himself he’s smarter. (Smart Charlie’s final hurrah: Inventing a method of communication between cats and “spydars.”) As Mac (Rob McElhenny) sums up: “Stupid science bitches couldn’t even make my friend more smarter.”

Speaking of the rest of the gang, Mac, Dennis (Glenn Howerton), and Dee (Katilin Olson) were left with the menial “Charlie work,” since Smart Charlie is above all that, and they set out to kill a rat in his absence. This results in seduction (Dennis plays Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” and lays out some brie cheese to attract the rat), entrapment (Sweet Dee gets her hand caught on a glue trap inside the rat’s hole), intoxication (instead of getting Dee unstuck using gasoline, they all get high off the fumes instead), and disappointment (“There’s no winning with mices,” Dennis concludes).

What did you think, PopWatchers: Did you detect any Westeros wit in Philly tonight? Share your thoughts on the unlikely pop culture crossover in the comments.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FXX.

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