South Park Season 20 Episode 8: Members Only Review

Much of South Park’s 20th season has suffered because of its many competing storylines. They have crammed three or four major subplots into each episode and a half-hour timeslot just isn’t enough time. Because of this, things have felt rushed and underdeveloped, while sacrificing humor in the process. This week, however, felt different. Episode 8 was so chaotic and bizarre that it worked. It felt like it could (for the most part) work in any season and it brought back some of the classic Trey Parker and Matt Stone humor we’ve all been craving.

Thanks to Tom’s Rhinoplasty, Mr. Garrison now looks more presidential. Equipped with a new head of slicked back blonde hair and a beautifully done “stank face” (just picture what Donald Trump does with his mouth), Mr. Garrison is ready to take over as commander-in-chief. He initially spent the episode seeking revenge on those who wronged him in the past, including, PC Principal and the guy who bags his groceries at the store, but then the realities of the job caught up with him. With the threat of WWIII on the horizon because of Troll Trace, Mr. Garrison was briefed on the inner workings of the Pentagon and forced to make some important military decision.

Even though South Park has always been satire, Mr. Garrison’s presidency has felt like the most realistic thing they’ve ever done. While getting a tour of the Pentagon, Mr. Garrison joyfully asked, “so I can do whatever the f**k I want in here now, right?” Based on his blunt campaign tactics and (at times) spiteful tendencies, this could easily be a realization Donald Trump has too. Politics aside, though, this episode finally gave us some political satire worth the laughs.

Even Cartman’s storyline (the weakest part of the entire season) was watchable this week. They arrived at SpaceX with hopes of getting to Mars but were forced to wait in a line with several people including Butters and Cher. It’s the random celebrity characters like this that South Park has been so good at, that I couldn’t help but reminisce about the days of Bono and Wolf Blitzer making the show. The best part, though, was Elon Musk touring everyone around showing off his innovative technologies like the pizza pocket before disappointing everyone when he said going to Mars would take another ten years.

By far the most bizarre storyline, though, this season has been the Member Berries and this week was no different. We know these obnoxious pieces of fruit represent the “good ol’ days” but other than that, I don’t really see their purpose. This doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining, though. Until now all we’ve seen are the young berries who are nostalgic for the original Star Wars and reminisce about the ‘80s, but this week we were introduced to the Member Berry Bosses. These almost-raisins “mob bosses” hangout out at a hidden speakeasy and treasure the ‘40s. At the end, thousands of berries rushed the White House and prank called Vladimir Putin. I still don’t know what’s to come with these mysterious berries, but they are still hilarious. Even if all they do is spout nostalgic thoughts I’ll be happy with their presence, but part of me also wants them to be the root cause of the next Cold War. I mean, what would make a better worldwide villain that thousands of littler berries?

Despite the poor start to the season, post-election South Park has gotten off to a good start and I actually have a good feeling about the final two episodes. This odd but funny episode reminded me why South Park is worth watching, even in a down season like this one. When Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a clear direction, good episodes will always follow. If anything, it was the uncertainty of the election results that hindered much of the season. Now that the material is there, expect an outlandish but quality end to the season.

Score: 8/10

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