Liam Hoofe reviews the season finale of South Park season 21…
South Park season 21 has, for the most part, been a return to form for the beloved TV show. After season 20 was derailed by the real-life election of Donald Trump, Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the wise decision to resort back to their old format, giving us individual episodes that were only loosely linked to each other. The duo couldn’t resist a two-part season finale, though, and ‘Splatty Tomato’ the season finale was the second part of last week’s excellent ‘Super Hard PCness‘. Sadly, though, the episode couldn’t quite deliver the same bite as its predecessor.
Looking back over the previous nine episodes of season 21, it is fairly clear that the season’s stronger outings have been the ones that have focused on the absurd adventures of the young boys, and the weaker ones have been the ones which have given any sort of attention to President Garrison (Trump.) Garrison’s rise was initially quite amusing but the show is beating a dead horse by this point and the decision to focus on him for the season finale really damaged the episode.
Following on from the events of last week, President Garrison has effectively been forced out of the White House due to record low approval ratings (even lower than The Nut Job 2) and is hiding in the woods surrounding South Park. The former high school teacher then slowly starts haunting the kids of South Park and the boys set out on an adventure to try and stop the President. If this sounds like a riff on Stranger Things and It, that’s because it is, and the show makes sure we know as much. As parodies go, this one seemed pretty late for Parker and Stone, and it didn’t really land all that much in terms of humour. Randy’s initial involvement give the episode its funniest moments and the use of a terrible 80’s soundtrack raised a few chuckles but the rest of it just fell flat.
The Canada storyline which drove the last episode was used as a way of setting up the Mr Garrison/Stranger Things subplot, which was a bit of a disappointment. Last week’s episode was a really intelligent insight into the show and its audience and I was hoping for a bit more of the same this week. Ike’s final capture of Mr Garrison was amusing, but the rest of the Canada stuff felt like an afterthought in this episode.
The other storyline continued from last week was the relationship between Strong Woman and PC Principle and sadly, the whole thing just felt like a huge anti-climax. PC Principal has always been a useful tool for the show to poke fun at the overly sensitive PC liberals but the gags in this episode just felt toothless. Has political correctness ever had an effect on office romances? Does anyone really find them worrying and/or disturbing? The gag may have just flown over my head, but it never really felt like it was trying to say anything, and it wasn’t very funny either. I did enjoy Butters’ very brief appearance in the episode though. I’ve really enjoyed season 21 of South Park but it definitely could have done with more Butters. There’s always room for more Butters.
The episode’s C plot focused on Heidi and Cartman’s relationship and it was the only one of the episode that really worked. During the boy’s adventure, Heidi began to have flashbacks to when their relationship started and slowly began to realise that Cartman had been manipulating her this whole time. This all ended with Heidi realising that she has allowed herself to play the victim for the last year and that she is to blame for everything that has happened to her. Heidi then made a point about the difference between playing a victim, and actually being one and this felt like the only time the episode offered any real insight into anything. This also linked in nicely with the episode’s new addition to the show ‘The Whites’, a not so subtle dig at the few people left who actually support Trump. I did enjoy their characters though and their interactions with the Town’s folk did bring about some of the funnier one-liners in the episode.
‘Splatty Tomato’ wasn’t a bad episode of South Park, it just felt muddled and lacking in any real bite. The President Garrison stuff felt old hat, and the PC principal stuff didn’t land. The episode was saved by Cartman and Heidi but on the whole, this just felt anti-climactic.
What did you think of ‘Splatty Tomato’? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter, here- @liamhoofe