On a very special Christmas episode of My Name is Earl, everyone is celebrating at the Crab Shack by decorating the drunks. (One catches fire.) Outside, Joy is asked for some money by a bearded man who claims his car has broken down, but she and the other Camdenites laugh at his weak scam. That reminds Earl that karma wants him to help a man whom he and Joy ran a scam on years earlier.
Apparently, one day a few weeks before he discovered karma, Earl was sitting around eating ribs with Joy when they saw a commercial for starving African kids. Realizing that it could be a good way to make money, they began handing out flyers in the street, telling people not to give them money now, but to send it to them later if they had trouble sleeping at night. (The trick to getting people to not sleep? Don’t tell Randy it’s a scam, and let him help convince people. He really makes people feel bad for those kids.) When the first check arrives, Joy and Earl celebrate, and reveal to Randy that it’s a scam. Randy laughs, thinking about all the nightmares he had and all the crying he did. They sure got him!
Going to the house of an old man who sent them a check back in the day, Earl finds out that the man is still sending checks to little M’Bongo, and getting photos and drawings in return. Flipping through the photo album, Earl sees Earl Jr., posing with “a hot American tourist” (Joy). Confronting Joy, he finds out that not only is Joy still running the scam, but she got two of her trailer park friends in on the action: one is pretending her family are flood victims, the other is pretending she and her son were caught in a wildfire. The man sends them all checks, so Earl decides to stop it.
When the old man’s obituary turns up in the newspaper, Earl reads that he was leaving his money to the charities he supports, so Earl goes to tell the man's lawyer about the scam. Stopping by the man’s house to find the lawyer’s name, Earl and Randy instead find the old man’s will, which gives $280,000 to the charities. Realizing that Joy and her friends are on their tail, they split up, but Randy loses the will to a crafty Joy. When the girls go to see the lawyer and demand their money, they find that Earl has beaten them there and tattled on them. The lawyer won’t pay them... until Earl leaves, at which point he’s willing to work something out. In exchange for $5,000 cash and sex with one of them (he’s lonely), he’ll write them all checks for their share. The ladies have to get the money from a loan shark, and Joy narrowly avoids being the one who has sex with him.
Astoundingly, this has been one big scam, perpetrated by Earl. The old man wasn’t dead, he was out of town. His “lawyer” was just the bearded scammer guy from earlier, clean-shaven. The checks were bogus, and Earl goes to give the five grand to the old man as repayment for the money the girls swindled out of him. The man still feels like a total fool, and won't thank Earl, so Earl takes him to the trailer park to laugh at the scammers. There, they see that the loan shark has taken appliances and vehicles from all three of the ladies as repayment, leaving them in dire straits. (Ironically, as a result, one trailer has actually been flooded, one had a fire, and Joy’s food has all spoiled.) Joy is furious at Earl, but the old man writes them all checks to solve their problems, telling Earl that he feels better when he gives to people in need, whoever they are. Earl sees his point, and buys Joy a new refrigerator.
First off, thanks to Zach for filling in for me on the recaplet. And a very special "no thanks" to the Portland Trail Blazers for having a game that preempted My Name Is Earl in Portland on Thursday. Sure, Greg Oden's funny, but that doesn't mean we don't need our Thursday night sitcoms.
It's Christmas at the Crab Shack, and tradition calls for decorating the drunks with garland and ornaments. Earl wants to join in, but he has to look after Randy when he's reading the comics. Randy's laughing and then turns to nearly crying, all "Oh, that's terrible" and "That's not funny at all." Earl reminds Randy that when he's reading the comics, he has to stop reading before he gets to the other side of the paper, or he hits the obituaries. Earl reminds him to fold the paper so that doesn't happen, and Randy does fold the paper. Then the decorators turn the lights on, and their Christmas drunk's hair catches on fire. Darnell comes out with a fire extinguisher, and tells everyone that if they're going to decorate drunks they need to have one handy.
Joy's arriving at the Crab Shack and is approached by a bearded guy who tells her he needs $20 because he and his wife were driving home from building Nerf playgrounds for autistic children and they ran out of gas. His wife would have come with him, but she sold her hair for baby formula (what now?) and is embarrassed about being bald. Joy sarcastically tells him his story is sad and, what with all the details, it must be true. She asks him to come inside and share it with her friends. Inside a moment later, everyone's laughing at our bearded scammer as Joy's making him retell the story. Even Randy's like, "What an idiot." But the reason he's laughing is because he thinks everyone knows that the baby formula is "Man + Woman." I'm sorry, but am I supposed to believe that Randy's too stupid to know what baby formula is, but that he realizes that a formula is another word for a mathematical equation? Because... no. That's going too far.
The hustler reminds Earl of number 201 on his list: "Conned an old man out of 100 bucks." We flash back to a couple weeks before karma hit Earl with a car. Joy and Earl are watching TV, and one of those Sally Struthers-style over-the-top ads about starving children in Africa comes on. This one asks for money so that African kids won't have to eat bowl after bowl of mud. Earl says it makes you think, and Joy's like, "Yeah. We could make a fortune." Earl looks shocked, but then we find out he's just noticing ribs stuck in her teeth.