All that said, I think the portrayal of Randy's corporate greed in this episode, as paired with Disney, was much more effective than last week, where most of his scenes were whining and he only briefly actually talked to MedMen before becoming violent. He's stupid in this episode but it almost seems like he's just dopey until he takes a turn for the worse at the end. It comes off more as if he was up against a real problem and chose to make a bad decision; whereas last week he just came off bad all throughout.
The kids' story with the band and biopic doesn't feel like it has the raw passion behind it that Randy's stories do, but it's still the real highlight of the show. It jumps off the previous episode in an interesting way but doesn't create any lockout - Kyle's absence has forced Stan to try new things with semi-new people. The metal band joke alone is solid and I laugh all the 'extreme' shots. The Record Producer from last season steps in (about time they reused one) and the jump to biopics and China feels surprisingly natural. I can't say the jokes made me laugh as much but they had good enough satire behind them for it to feel about right. It might've been nice to see a touch more of our boys yet.
Kyle and Cartman's return is a bit underwhelming for the premise and horror of last week's story, but it feels worth it to see our boys reunited again for a solid joke. The self-deprecating nature of the "vanilla and cheesy" setup sets up the return of Fingerbang perfectly, and although one could nitpick the white outfits being from Cartman's dream (better choice anyway) or lack of Wendy, it works out really well -- because it shows that even with an idea already palatable to Chinese audiences, Stan still refuses to hold his head down and sell out to the Chinese government.
I do wish the episode had put more emphasis on other media companies' investment in China though. It's perfectly acceptable to criticize Disney and it's a common form in satire to focus on the largest possible target to make your point, but I also find this strategy very often runs the risk of going over heads by attracting so much attention to the focus company or group that people fail to apply the faults to other companies making the same mistakes.
Still though, a really solid episode and a bit of a return to form after the last season's amusing but awkward conclusion and a rough start last week. Hopeful it's a sign of things to come.
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