Vapers, Vapers, Everywhere
We've never met the Recess Monitor indicated here; an older woman has appeared twice (twelve seasons apart!) to supervise recess, but she seemed to loathe the children and probably wouldn't be accepting child pornography for bribes. The sixth graders also warrant quite a few references (I'm not even sure how long it's been since they figured into an episode!) but don't capture a single cameo either. This is all bypassed to focus on Kyle's story about protecting his little brother.
During the show's fourth through sixth seasons, Trey cultivated the kindergarteners as major supporting characters, and they still come back every few seasons, but this is the first time in a while their individual identities have been in play. Ike is sitting with his once rivals, Filmore and Quiad in the sandbox, the latter of whom has a line; alongside another new boy, we also get the return of Jenny, once the dirty girl in their class. Their voices are provided by Betty Boogie Parker, Desmond Stone, and Cleopatra Stone, Matt and Trey's kids, adorable enough.
The idea of Butters being the vaping salesman had some interesting promise, though it undermined Butters' return to form earlier this season... but we then get the amusing scene where we discover, of course, he's working for Cartman, and seeing them walk past Kyle is pretty funny. The escalation, as Kyle tries to get adult help only to be drawn in deeper by his friends, who mostly want to get out without consequences, sets up a lot of good, small jokes. I also liked how it reinforced the pricklyness between Kyle and Cartman while still showcasing their friendship in that Kyle was willing in each instance to help Cartman redirect himself.
The "OH YEAH!!" Vaping Man is a quick funny joke and I do love how phony Cartman and Butters' pitch is and how polite and courteous Cartman is to Kyle abou the situation, and we get a nice reappearance later without much explanation. I enjoyed the joke, although I dare remind that Kool-Aid man jokes are also a longtime Family Guy staple.
Cartman tries to scare Kyle by reminding him about 'last week' and mentioning Ronan Farrow asking about him, an allusion to "The Problem With a Poo", which leads to a lot of brief, subtle moments of Kyle checking over his shoulder. This is another element of continuity being used in a way that never suggests lockout, and Kyle's subtle reaction is honestly a lot funnier than if he was openly worried about it. Shame Mr. Hankey's still haunting him.
I'm at a loss to say much of substance on this plot except that it was continously amusing. It might have been nice to see more of the other kids and how they were affected, but I can see why Trey and Matt picked the route they did in the final episode, so I wouldn't lodge that as a complaint. It was fun.
Fed up with the town, Randy decides to make the family move - it's an interesting concept, and plays into the background suggested that Randy has, in fact, been unhappy with his marriage and life all along. It's interesting that Randy uses the last few episodes to justify moving out of town, especially when the first two episodes explicitly positioned him as apathetic to these events. To his credit, he seems to work pretty hard once the farm is set up, and takes a lot of joy doing it - although maybe he's just enthusiastic about his new wares. The new marijuana farms show a couple familiar rednecks for a second; they seem to be further out than the cattle ranches.
I didn't find "tegridy" a particularly funny runner, but I forgive it because it plays well into the storyline as defining Randy's pursuit of a sense of conviction and purpose that he's previously lacked. The episode doesn't explore that idea much, but it shines a little as we see the 'tegridy' concept cross into the vaping storyline, as Randy rebuffs their corporate advances and attacks his neighbor Joe. Those who sell out lack in'tegridy', as most can read through - because Randy values his hard work and what he recieves from it, he's chosen this lifestyle, while others would rather take the money and live lazily. It's an interesting insight into his character; we'll see if it's a lasting, concrete one.
As more of a side note, Trey serves himself better and worse by giving Randy a farmer's accent, which comes close to the voice he uses for the Mechanic/Farmer character we see every few years. Yup, lotta history with that voice.
The finale has Randy decide to take down Big Vape at the same time the kids are siphoning off and being confronted by the Vaping exectuvie, which is convenient but most interestingly, places the show's main characters of the last seven-plus years (Cartman, Kyle, Butters, Randy, in addition to Towelie) all together on the same side in a rare instance, as many episodes emphasize opposition between Cartman and Kyle, or have Randy elsewhere, etc. It's certainly weird, at this stage, to see Kyle treating Randy as an authority figure, "Mr. Marsh", but it's also endearing to see Randy defending the kids here without his own son involved. It's a good use of his character.
If there was one thing this storyline needed, I think it was a stronger hint of how Sharon, Stan and Shelly felt about the farm situation. Stan's disappointed, but it's relatively secondary to the main plotlines, while Shelly has no lines at any point in the episode and Sharon only a few expository ones. Do Sharon or Shelly do farm labor? How do they feel about the change? I think one of the biggest disadvantages the show's fallen to in increasing Randy's role as a character is the Marsh family unit still feels very much secondary to whatever Randy's actually up to, and there's always missed potential in using those obsessions to springboard stories for the other characters.
Curiously, the episode ends with no suggestion that the Marshes are moving back to town and even implies they may be staying on the farm. I highly doubt this change will be permanent, but I'm open to it. It opens up some new story possibilities for the Marsh family in the future, that's for sure.
This is the first time in the show's history we've truly confirmed (in dialogue and foreground) that Shelly, and therefore Kenny's brother Kevin, also attend South Park Elementary. This has been a minor point of debate for years since they've never appeared in the background with other students until last year, and kids older than the sixth graders don't generally appear, but this confirms the point. Perhaps this will mean seeing Shelly and Kevin around more in the future. On a note, while they mention Shelly vaping, she has no lines in the rest of the episode.
Blaze, the iconic "Would You Like a Dance?" stripper, makes her first in-series reappearance in over a decade and now seems to work at South Park Elementary as a receptionist for both the Principal and Vice Principal. This is a curious but interesting revelation. Hope one day they use her to announce a school dance
This is our first time seeing Mr. Mackey's Residence (with an exterior establishing) since probably, what, the third or fourth season? We've had a few peeks at the interior since then ("Skank Hunt" came to mind fast) but he's more strongly associated with the school than, say, Garrison, whose residence was seen with some frequency. We get a glimpse inside as well and it does look a little more furnished than we often see these glimpsed from the outdoors houses.
The kindergarteners are usually focused on in their own classroom and the gymnasium, rarely the hallways and sometimes recess; the fourth graders are easy for animators generate, I assume -- but I feel pretty sure this is the first time we see them sitting in the lunch room, even if it's just a quick shot. We see a different set of kindergarteners in the lunch room with Ike than we do on the playground as well. There must be a second kindergarten classroom now, heh.
I feel like I had something else to note, but it's totally slipped my mind.
Towelie is Back
Simultaneously one of South Park's most hated and beloved characters, Towelie's main character trait since his introduction has been his addiction to marijuana, and while a suggested appearance in the weed-focused "Medicinal Fried Chicken" in the meantime never came to fruition, his two most recent major appearances on the show both showcased how it was holding him back from any sense of success in-universe, while seeming to take away what defined Towelie's character. It seems natural that a mirror occur with both this episode and South Park: The Fractured But Whole in that Towelie finds success in a career that takes advantage of his experience with marijuana.
While the example ingame didn't really fit into canon very well, it's funny to note that the character model for Towelie's co-worker Miles is here an employee of Big Vape. In contrast with the game however, Towelie's re-introduction here as an inspector is an even stronger setup for Towelie to act as a professional while taking advantage of his unique skills. It's even nicer though, that he plays a crucial role in helping the boys at the end of the episode, his catchphrase a badass boast, as it's a reminder of the genuine friendship he has with the boys, something his two mid-series appearances couldn't really deal with to a very full extent like his earlier episodes.
What's really amusing to me is that with Father Maxi two weeks ago and Mr. Hankey last week, we've had quite a few returning characters this season - in particular, I've always found Towelie and Hankey somewhat distant counterpart characters as high-pitched but well-meaning, non-human friends of the boys and it's crazy to think they both returned only an episode apart this season after both being inactive since roughly the same mid-period for the show. It's an interesting change of fortune that Towelie seems to have improved himself as a person/character, while Mr. Hankey took a significant downgrade this season.
- Why is no action being taken against the recess monitor for accepting a pornographic bribe? Or are we too assume Shelly simply assumed the picture would be fine?
- Many of the Big Vape patrons are the new hispter background characters introduced from season 19 on, seen last season as Millenials Against Canada.
- How Cartman, Kyle, and Buttes broke into Big Vape unnoticed is never fully explained, which is a lot funnier because the Vaping CEO dude asks how they got in, lol
- The Principal and Vice Principal seem to share the same waiting room in the last two episodes. Interesting that it's been there for years (when DID we first see the waiting room? season 10?) but we've never seen the second door.
- A dog's butthole, huh, Shelly? Maybe it's from ol' Sparky.
- It was, uh, still weird to see the Marsh family putting a 'For Sale' sign in front of their house again. Brought back some weird memories, y'know?
- Randy mentions a Catatonic Tegridy bud, and later a Tegridy Jungle bud. It's entirely plausible these are two different strains but a part of me is just imagining a continuity error. The end only mentions a generic Tegridy Weed.
The Season So Far
We're four episodes in and it's hard to believe we're already kind of halfway through; despite the unpopular premiere, I'd say we've been off to a strong start so far. The season has already delivered two episodes that weren't headlined by Cartman or Randy (and two that were, by both, I know) and all four episodes have managed to mostly recast real life trends within South Park itself rather than simply have the characters respond to something in the news. In both of those respects, I would call it an improrvement on the last three or so seasons, maybe four. That doesn't mean there aren't aspects of it that leave me wanting though.
If there's a clear theme this season like the last few, I don't believe I've caught it yet; the apathy of the first two episodes, as mentioned, doesn't seem to play into this story. Maybe it's something subtler, maybe they lost track like last seaon, or maybe there's a point I've simply missed.
I'm optimistic for the next episode, hopefully some timeless Halloween fun, but we'll see where the story takes us. I wonder if we'll see more returning characters?
So overall, I thought this was a decent episode, and despite the lengthy post, it actually took me a long while to find too much to say about it. I like a lot of the little touches throughout more than I cared about the big picture, but there were plenty of chuckles from me either way. I appreciated that it didn't spend the entire runtime refocusing one or two specific running jokes, as many mediocre episodes end up doing, but still peppered out plenty of other gags to keep it from being too one-dimensional.
It's difficult with the nature of the show - when the twentieth season came around, I was actually one of the bigger proponents because it felt like Cartman and Butters had developed naturally over the previous two seasons into being better and worse people respectively, but a lot of fans didn't like seeing them behaving outside their usual comedic niches, so both were reset via their newfound distrust of women at the end of the season over the mission to Mars... and that seemed to mostly disappear back to typical Cartman and Butters next season.mario88 wrote:so randy yet again is following his next crazy dream, towelie yet again is being a junkie. how fresh.
You change and develop the characters, and people often complain they aren't as funny anymore; you reset them and you lose a sense of progression.
It's a big reason I'm not enthusiastic about Cartman as a character anymore - more than anyone his, it feels like his psychological state and overal morality shift wildly depending on the story demands. In some episodes, he's a dedicated sociopath and sadist, and in others, he's more of a confused little kid. Sometimes he's a genuine white nationalist with an active political ideology, sometimes he seems ignorant that what he's saying could be offensive. Sometimes he can barely stand to use basic manners and sometimes he feigns politeness easily when it's convenient.
I'm not disagreeing with you, per se. I think most of the side of the fandom that analyzes the show reasonably would agree that Randy is becoming a stale character, and Towelie's popularity has only ever been ironic. I've just given up that
I mentioned in the thread for "A Boy and a Priest" how Trey and Matt have always struggled to keep straight whether the boys are eight, nine or ten years old, and it's definitely annoying... I mean, Stan's had two birthdays in his fourth grade year now, Clyde's had three, and Butters less surely had two, so it's all a mess.Stanluv25 wrote:First off going to say it annoyed me to see Shelley is *still* at SP elementary. Inaccuracies with the kids' ages get to me. She was introduced as 12 when the show began and the boys were 8. She is four years older than them. If they are in the 4th grade and are 10, she should be a freshman in HS, age 14. But Stan mentioned she was 13 a few yrs ago in Cash for Gold. It had been so long since her age was mentioned I'm sure M&T forgot she's 4 yrs older. Anyway, that rant over...
While it would make sense from the first season for Shelly to have an earlier birthday and secure a four year age difference, I think with "Cash for Gold", Trey and Matt effectively changed the age difference to three years by showing Stan had aged two years but Shelly only one... in which case she could definitely be an eighth grader. Sixth thru eighth was junior high for me and we know the sixth graders are still at the elementary school.
It's even more confusing because most of the sixth graders we usually see, who should be eleven to twelve, are a little taller than Shelly or Kenny's brother, and we also know Scott Tenorman was in eighth or ninth grade and he has a very different design, so the visual cues aren't helpful either.
Anyways, this was by far the 2nd best episode of the season and it wasn't even close (this and the "Priest/Boy" episode...then the other two! It's been 2 decent great episodes and 2 forgettable episodes so far this season imo). Not a marjuana fan...not a vaping fan. In fact I hate vapers. So it's was funny to watch them make fun of it. But needless to say there really is an epidemic happening with teens and vaping, and it's just as dangerous as cigarettes...but hidden as more fun and less harmful (lies!)
Was awesome seeing Towelie again lol. "That's some good sh*t!". Good to see the kindergardners as well. Really enjoy the Cartman/Butters episodes. This one was no exception. Butters playing as Cartman's blame guy. Poor Butters....at least Kyle never sees Cartman for whom he really is. Although he begrungly helps him defeat the vaping excs last minute. PS: Cartman singing (and dropping) a 5 dollar footlong!
Randy had an okay episode as the Kemp farmer. Loved the "Two Princes" theme when they put the hat on. Also enjoyed the Kool aid dude even though Family Guy does it soooooo much better. A decent episode overall. 8/10
I salute you, Shaman.
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