South Park fans had a moment of doubt when the series paused last June (mid-season) with a sobering thought: You’re getting old. After ~15 years, one movie, and a spinoff broadway musical, it’s no wonder Trey Parker & Matt Stone are feeling the South Park burn out. But not to worry; the series returned to flex its muscle against vaccination fears & fast food, and the power of alcohol to make shit sound awesome.
In case you don’t remember the last episode’s ‘cliffhanger’, Stan was having an existential breakdown having come to the realization that the world is actually pretty shitty. Inspired by the popularity of tweenwave music and bad movies, along with his parents’ divorce and other sobering realities, Stan found himself unable to enjoy anything – everything was shit. Cue Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide… and the dawning awareness that he’s getting old.
This didn’t sit well with fans… who are in fact, getting OLD. With such a morose ending to the mid-season finale, speculations led some to believe that Trey and Matt were going to put South Park to rest. Not to worry! No matter how shitty things get, making fun of shit is always a good time.
So with Tweenwave music on the rise, a Fall lineup that features Jurassic Park and Lost in the same TV show, and fears over the link between HPV vaccines and Autism, South Park made a refreshed return.
[SPOILERS START HERE]
Hearing that schools will be making the HPV vaccine mandatory, Cartman is suddenly introduced to “Aspergers” — naturally, he decides to fake it and reap the benefits. His attempt at stuffing burgers down his pants doesn’t work, but has unexpected results – the burgers are SO DERRICIOUS! Once he tries Cartman’s [ass] burgers, how can Kyle help but get involved in this tasty enterprise?
Stan and Kyle have a falling out over the burgers, and soon Stan is diagnosed by Mr. Mackie as having Aspergers (he’s such a bummer, he must have Aspergers, m’kay?) – luckily Stan is taken to a therapy group who understands him. Unfortunately, the group is also the ‘Secret Society of Cynics’ who thinks they’re living in a shitty real world and want to go back in to the ‘Matrix’. Of course, Stan is the ‘chosen one’ who will make things to go back to the way they were before everything got shitty. HOW? With a magic serum (no blue or red pill here; only alcohol) that helps temporarily make things awesome again.
Ok, loose analogy; but the Secret Society of Cynics are fighting something shitty; Rock monsters or AI or aliens – whatever, fuck you! And somehow, they’re connected to fast food and Cartman’s increasing grip on the [ass] burger market. Which, by the way, is attracting the attention of some other bad guys (other fast food moguls, who can’t figure out how to duplicate the chemical compound that makes Cartman’s burgers SO good.)
Drunk on Matrix serum, Stan is sent to infiltrate Cartman’s operation. You see aliens, or robots from the future, or genetically altered humans (whatever – fuck you!) are going to use the ass burgers to make things somehow, well – shittier.
This is usually where the episode wraps up: Kyle and Stan make up, they blow the ass burger secret wide open, learn a lesson and reset.
But in the middle of a showdown worthy only of South Park (you know, drunk Aspbergers patients with guns, killing fast food moguls who want to steal the [ass] burger secret from Cartman…) Stan stops it all.
Enter supposedly meaningful speech about learning to move on, grow up, accept change. Very insightful, mature, maybe even offering closure to the back-to-back South Park in existential crisis mode episodes? Hopeful, Stan declares maybe it won’t be like before, but at least it’ll be new… or not.
Just when fans might have thought the show was ACTUALLY going to take a new direction, Stan’s dad drives up and announces things are going back to the way they were. Stan’s parents get back together, the family moves back in to their old house, and cue Landslide.
Of course fans knew South Park would have to revert to its classic attitude. “As you get older, you realize the best thing to do is just stick with what you know…” and luckily, since its targets are always changing, the series still comes off incredibly fresh. Stan of course wakes up back to normal – the shittiness of the world can be heard for what it really is, and he’s off to see the latest blockbuster hit: Zoo Keeper 2: Zoo Keepier. Ahh South Park, your shit is always so funny 🙂