SOUTH PARK “Let Go, Let Gov” Episode Recap
Oh god! Yes! It’s back. South Park is back. It’s been 323 days since we last saw Cartman, Stan, Kyle and Kenny. That would be…hold on, let me crunch the numbers…
Approximately 80 pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to crush the internal pain I felt as I cried my way through withdrawals without my beloved South Park.
Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I did have a badass season of Game of Thrones to watch after all. Right, you guys? Am I riiiiight?
The episode finds three of the four boys in their natural state: standing at the bus stop. That familiar sight. That welcoming sight. Wait where’ Cartman? As Kyle kvetches the current state of people talking on speaker phone in the public arena, the joke is a tad telegraphed as Cartman strolls in, doing that very same thing. He’s talking to a couple of his “bros”. What I like about this is that Cartman is guy. He’s your friend who not only uses speaker phone, but maybe an ear piece, or maybe he says “bro” in earnest. What I’m confused about after finishing the episode is who are those guys he’s talking to?
This is a deft critique of the current stories of primarily Edward Snowden and somewhat Bradley Manning. Additionally, Cartman tweeting all the details to his “secret meeting” and blogging about it, and then using his Shitter account all coalesce into what South Park does best: Taking a topic, and not…holding a mirror up to society…but rather shoving it up our asses. We’re displaying our private lives prominently on the Internet…but then we whine and complain when the NSA might be tapping in to our phones or reading our emails. Parker and Stone do it again, eh? You’re damn right they do and it’s been too long.
Poor Butters. I’ve written that sentence far too many times…but honestly, that’s a good thing. Aside from that Hawaiian Butters episode…plots involving Butters going off on his own, misinterpreting things in the most honest way possible, are endearing and generally hilarious. This one doesn’t fail. In a way, it reminds me of when Butters becomes Mantequilla and leads a new Mexican Revolution. In this, Butters turns the government into a sort of Catholic-Baptist revival religion, changing the lives of those around him for the better. You have to love Butters. If you don’t, check your wiring…because you’re a robot.
And to that point, it’s interesting that South Park takes on religion, at least aesthetics of Jehovah’s Witness (door-to-door pitches), Catholicism (confessions) and Baptists (the spiritual tent revival baptism scene), but not be incredibly offensive is unique. It’s new. And it’s not bad. They’re not necessarily taking on religion, more so the people who view the government as their protectors, again, related to those aesthetics. However, it’s promising to see Parker and Stone approach religion in a fresh way without having to fall back on being offensive just because. I think this hiatus has them refreshed. Maybe that stack of Tony awards has something to do with that revived mindset, too.
I liked the Alec Baldwin bits enough. I felt like it had all the trimmings of a joke they could easily run in to the ground, which is common on South Park…but they stopped it like two seconds before they ran it into the ground. Which shows a bit of restraint on their part. Despite the long hiatus and self-proposed short, 10-episode season, I’m sure the guys still started making this episode 6 days ago. However, this delightful episode feels like it comes from a refreshed point of view.
Overall, maybe this isn’t the grand return of my all-time favorite television series (aside from The Simpsons). But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe a triumphant return with the greatest thirty minutes of television ever would cast a pall on the remaining nine episodes. No, I do think that this solid premiere, featuring two fan-favorites as the A and B plot, feels good as a fan. If none of these ten episodes reveal themselves as the greatest, I’d be absolutely fine with that. As long as it’s solid and consistent throughout. And we never see Butters go to Hawaii. Let’s be honest, this is the 17th season. This show can almost buy cigarettes and porn (if it wasn’t already stealing it). As it comes of age, I’m excited to see what happens next, as always.
For a piquant after-taste of infiltration and a big final reveal, revisit “Cartoon Wars Parts 1 & 2” where Cartman infiltrates Family Guy only to find, behind closed doors, the manatee writing staff (much like Santa Claus in this episode).
– I love that “Livin’ in Americas” is the new Hail Marys in this scenario…and that Butters knows the lyrics. Now I want to watch Rocky IV. You know, to atone.
– It was awesome to hear them continue to universe build referencing Casa Bonita.
– It stands to reason that someone like Cartman would be a whistleblower for the NSA.
– We know from commercials that they’re going to parody World War Z soon enough. If they loop in other blockbusters from this summer, I need to say this now. After my wife and I saw Pacific Rim, we walked out and she said, “South Park needs to have Cartman fear the Kai-Jew”. You heard it here first. If they do this (and, seriously, they really should), my wife gets credit for calling it and I get credit for not stealing her joke. Okay? You got my back on this, right bro?