This South Park review contains spoilers.
South Park Season 23 Episode 6
The title of the latest installment of South Park, “Season Finale,” is a misnomer — there are still four episodes left in the season. This clever bit of misdirection to led us to believe our time on Tegridy Farms could be coming to an end, and Randy will have to answer for his crimes—at best destruction of private property and at worst domestic terrorism and homicide—in the season premiere. The town, frankly, is sick of Randy Marsh. After “Mexican Joker,” it’s been a downward spiral; he aliened his business partner, Towlie, and selfishly ignored his family’s disapproval of Tegridy, his shady dealing with China landed him in hot water, and then he pointlessly murdered dozens of cows and poisoned his remaining customers with his Halloween Special. It’s been a shitshow.
Randy’s serialized arc likely will continue, even after last night’s episode, but winter has come and it’s cast a chilly shadow over South Park. Randy’s high and lows as a small business owner go hand in hand with the roller coaster of quality we’ve seen six episodes into South Park Season 23. And we’re not talking quality from week to week. The show has been consistently inconsistent this season, with every spark of comedic hope flickering out like a joint in the wind. “Season Finale,” you can argue, is the funniest of the lot. Yet in this mixed bag, you’ll find more evidence that proves you’d be hard pressed to find another comedy on TV that belabors a joke into the ground harder than South Park does.
The storyline in “Season Finale” does function reasonably well on a few levels. There’s actual family tension and drama at the heart of it. Randy has done some fucked up stuff over the years, and he’s finally facing consequences for it. That’s refreshing and parallels one of my favorite episodes in recent memory, “The Trouble With A Poo,” in which Mr. Hankey is banished from South Park. On top of Randy’s family struggles, he’s being put on trial and calls the best possible person at turning allegations back around on the people levying them: President Garrison. Credit the show for reviving Garrison as Trump, a gimmick that even Matt Stone and Trey Parker got sick of using two seasons ago, at a moment that actually both served the story arc and the zeitgeist. Adding in Rudy Giuliani, a comically inept “treasonous pig,” to the mix was a nice touch, too.
That would be more than enough to craft a tight episode about Randy destroying him home life and his reputation and doubling down with Garrison and Giuliani to avoid jail time. The episode goes for more, though, by including the Whites, a family who loses their son in an unfortunate pick-up football accident. The White family talking about how no one cares when one of their own is killed by a cop is about as on the nose as you can get with that joke. Similar gags have been done to death in the show over the years – the Tom Cruise in the closet metaphor is the first and most obvious one that comes to mind. This repetition almost always has diminishing returns.
I also interpreted subtext of Randy’s situation as a commentary on how people of color have been disproportionally convicted of weed-related crimes – and now that marijuana usage is more widely accepted, and is seen a growing market to invest in by affluent whites, people like Randy can avoid jail time for offenses that others would have been locked away for. It’s an area in the Tegridy-era that South Park could have explored in a more meaningful way, and perhaps they will, but it was a fun bit to see the Whites, as the small and vocal minority, protesting in support of Randy.
Overall, I enjoyed “Season Finale.” It had high points and stinky joints. If this is the end for Tegridy Farms, it was a worthwhile experiment, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a smashing success. Neither would Sharon, Stan, and Shelly.