It’s going to require a monumental episode for tonight’s finale to catapult South Park’s 21st season into the program’s upper echelon. It might even be an impossible task. As I’ve whined before, the show never really found a consistent momentum this season, and too often Trey Parker and Matt Stone chose to be topical rather than funny — probably the season’s greatest shortcoming. However, the show has delivered pure gold (kill yourself … do it) when it’s managed to tap into our collective feelings as citizens of Giant Douche’s America. While the Colberts, Meyers, and Noahs of the comedy world get to take pot shots at Trump nearly every night, I’d argue that none have delivered anything more culturally insightful than Parker and Stone’s “Put It Down” episode. And who among us hasn’t felt, at least at times, as overwhelmed as Heidi Turner (who is no longer all that smart or funny; she needs to get over herself) by the tumultous cultural sea change taking place? So, no, it hasn’t been a great season by South Park standards, but it has been one that reminds us that the show remains as relevant as ever. Not bad 21 years in.
Now, beware kiddie kiddie winkies, or the big, bad Trump might snatch you up like a bucket of “Beyond” KFC.
Okay, ready to get caught up? Then, forget everything you know about A and B plots, plots and subplots. Take a deep breath. Here comes the longest sentence in South Park recapping history. After receiving a Rotten Tomatoes “splatty tomato,” Giant Douche has returned to South Park to scrounge for ratings and perhaps feast on the flesh of children; the Whites (Bob and family, not the race), tired of being mistreated by society, look to aid Giant Douche by feeding him finger sandwiches and steering him clear of Fox traps; Ike answers Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call after last week’s nuclear bombing of Toronto and sets out to hunt down the party responsible (and Mountie Ike always gets his Douche); Kyle and the boys go off in search of Ike, hoping to save the town soundtracked by some killer ’80s music, which opens up a Pandora’s Box, or at least channel, of problems; while tagging along with them, Heidi recounts her journey from lonely social media suicide statistic to her present putrid plumpness; and, while all of that goes down, as gross as it sounds, PC Principal and Vice Principal Woman, who work together, are, in fact, hold your vomit back, dating! Does anyone else hear Barbara Mandrell very, very quietly? Hey, why not Millie Jackson?
Basically, it’s just like Stranger Things, which is just like IT, so to quote Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, which this episode is nothing like: “We’re dealing with a lot of shit.”
And we’re also dealing with arguably the greatest South Park season finale ever. Two times through and I’m still baffled at how Parker and Stone fit so much seasonal baggage (going back to Season 20), so much character baggage, and so much, well (did you see see the bags the boys were lugging through the woods?), plain baggage into a single episode. During a season that, at its best, captured the vibe of living in Giant Douche’s America, does it get any more fitting than having the season finale’s premise hinge on the idea of an unpopular president that everyone wants to get rid of lurking through the woods like a monster out to get us and our loved ones? Couple that with allusions to hit sci-fi horror and running gags about #WhiteLivesMatter, ’80s music, and taboo subjects — like how to talk about someone shooting the president without having the secret service swarm our homes — and you have a final episode that actually has something to say in between hearty laughs.
And Ike puts that message best: “Oh, stop being a victim. Jesus Christ!” Whether it’s Giant Douche feeling like he’s the one getting the unfair shake and Cartman’s inability to understand how the world doesn’t orbit around his ass or Kyle blaming the country’s moral demise on Canadian fart humor and Heidi’s allowing herself to be manipulated into becoming a fat, miserable jerk, both wicked and good characters wreak havoc on society and others throughout the last two seasons by playing victim and finding scapegoats to blame rather than looking within for both the causes of problems and the solutions. By the end of the episode, Heidi and Kyle have learned something today, Cartman is still Cartman, and Giant Douche has escaped. Cue Randy Marsh…
Episode MVP: We like Ike. Not only does Kyle’s little, football-headed brother deliver the season’s most important message and set an example for true patriots everywhere, but Ike, in full Mountie regalia, ultimately bags Giant Douche and brings him to justice. It almost makes you want to sing “O Canada”, buddy. Almost.
Best Moment: In a finale full of personal reflection and classic jokes, does it really get any better than Mountie Ike astride his noble Newfoundland, bringing in his latest bounty to face justice? Did anyone not cheer and feel their heart swell?
The Quotable South Park: In the most quotable episode of Season 21, let’s bulldoze through this strong field to a Randy Marsh line about Giant Douche that precisely summarizes how fed up we are: “Oh, for fuck’s sake, White. He’s running around eating our pets and terrorizing our kids.” I can’t think of a more applicable line to use in what has become our daily lives. Well, except for maybe this one: “He’s not saving Christmas. He’s running around scaring your kids and shitting in the woods.” In almost any context, it makes sense to say those words to an Alabaman.
Song of the South Park: You can throw that Stranger Things 2 soundtrack right off the bridge with Heidi’s smart phone. Get your Pandora ’80s channel and Spotify playlists ready. Here comes the perfect kick-ass ’80s music to save any small town to…
Oh, My God! They Spared Kenny: Live long and prosper, kid. Lord knows you’ve earned it.
I Learned Something Today: Last week we learned that men fall in love to the sound of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand”. Women, on the other hand, fall in love to Barbara Mandrell singing “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Wanna Be Right”. Women are from Venus, indeed.
Garrison’s Grade Book: A- for the episode; B- for the season … God bless all you Giant Douches and Turd Sandwiches for reading along!
Recapping South Park: “Splatty Tomato” Delivers a 100% Fresh Season Send-Off