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SOUTH PARK “Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers” Episode Recap

After an unexpected week off, South Park returned with the conclusion to the trilogy that we didn’t even know existed. But that’s okay. I was actually excited to see the goth kids return. That’s when South Park is working, when they’re not over saturating side characters through the A plot. There’s only about six characters on this show that can consistently carry episodes and even those episodes fall short at times (occasionally Cartman, Randy and Butters…yes, the best characters, are featured in weak episodes). This episode, their apparent Halloween episode for the season, was no slouch.

Henrietta’s sunshiny mom was always a highlight in the goth kids scenes in the past. So it was nice to see her have more than five seconds of screen time in this episode. Finally, we meet her dad, who doesn’t surprise us here as an average middle-America type dad. I love that they have a complete misunderstanding of subculture. Seeing these adults through the eyes of Henrietta, that’s what it is, a complete misunderstanding. However, as the critique of culture is turned on its head, it does seem that her parents were right all along. There is no difference between goth and emo.

Speaking of which, I’m curious (mostly because I’m about to be a dad which means I have no concept of what’s “in”), is emo still a thing?

When Henrietta returns from the camp for troubled kids, Michael (the taller goth), is blown away by the horrible transformation. The invasion of the body snatchers has begun and no one is safe, it seems. “No wayyyyy” he says, before contacting the other goth kid (as Edgar Allen Poe says, “did a blood demon take a shit in your hair?”) who has a similar response. However, it’s this exchange that I was most delighted at:

Michael: It’s worse than we thought.

Pete: What is…everything?

South park has long been kings of these contextual subtle jab. But it’s been a while since they’ve been this clever. It’s one of my favorite jokes that South Park has done in a long time.

If the subtext is that subcultures replace one another, but are hardly seamless and natural, and more so a product of the establishment forcing the new upon us…well than holy shit, this episode reached genius heights. In this way, the goths are unaware that their niche was simply the predecessor “subculture” created not by the anti-establishment but by our overlords. The overlords here being ficus plants, but really a prank reality show, which is in and of itself a product of a shameless content-mill. Then South Park takes the critique one step further to the original, with Poe, revealing that it’s all derivative…as the black dude said, “all genres of gothic subcultures are derivative of Poe’s work…motha fuckas”. This was amazing. In fact, this character is one of the best nameless side characters South Park has employed in quite some time. He was strange and perfect.

When Henrietta turns back into a goth kid, acting out her return to self as body snatcher victims might, we see that the argument that South Park has always made about the non-conformist conformists…that it’s all so thin and fake at its core. And fortunately, Henrietta’s mom calls Henrietta “Fatty” in the final moments, leaving this episode with a night-black bow tied atop it…you know, because of my soul’s pain…or whatever. Geez.

This is the best of the first three episodes so far. Which is a relief after they missed their deadline last week. This is a solid South Park episode in general. I doubt we’ll be talking about it years from now like some other episodes, but I’ll take it.

Weekly pairing:

Just drink some dark wine and go watch the three goth kid episodes in succession already. I know I want to…so what’s stopping you? Responsibilities? Poser.

The other two:

“Raisins” – Season 7, episode 14 – One of the finest South Park episodes anyway.

“The Ungroundable” – Season 12, Episode 14 – A good, not great, episode…but Butters is hilarious as usual.

 

After-Thoughts:

– Poe’s goth name is Night Pain…god yes.

– “Ugh, you spit on me, Larry”

– “They have a horseshoe pit where you can challenge the other kids to horseshoes!”

– I liked the special opening credits. It reminds me of The Simpsons in that way. I also wonder if this was something they did, taking advantage of the extra time afforded to them in the past week.

– Seriously though…is emo still around?

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.