‘South Park’ Recap: Episode 20.3 “The Damned”

It seems like South Park finally has an idea of where they want to go with this season. Things start coming together, themes start being raised, and it seems like we finally have a direction after two episodes of world building. Nevertheless, the episode still tries to tackle the division of the country, the general election, and trolling all in one go, and at times it becomes too much. Still, brilliant moments shine through, making the show still one of the funniest out there.

Freja Ollengard, a Danish Olympic athlete recovering from breast cancer is on a talk show to discuss her battle with the troll SkankHunt42. The host begins reading the tweets of support, only to discover they are all puns mocking mastectomies written by the troll. Gerald watches his handiwork with glee (the puns are all predictably clever, but are incredibly awful in context). He’s excited that he’s having this level of impact on the world. However, his excitement is short lived, as the police are at the door. As it turns out, they aren’t there for him-the police are investigating Eric Cartman’s disappearance from social media. They’re trying to decide if it was “Twitter Suicide” or “Twitter Homicide.” You see, “People don’t just quit social media. They leave long messages explaining why they are quitting social media.” Kyle begins panicking when being questioned, and Gerald tells them to ask Cartman why he’s no longer on social media. The response? “@where, sir? @where?” God, this show is brilliant. Meanwhile, Stan is still broken hearted over Wendy, and filled with regret over Cartman. Randy comes in to comfort his son, and Stan asks his dad what’s happened to the world. “Everyone’s taking sides, people are splitting into groups. Everything sucks now.” Randy agrees with his son, and laments over what has happened to the world.

Cut to the Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich Presidential debate. This seems like it’s going to be a slam dunk for the Turd Sandwich aka Hillary Clinton. All she has to do is walk out and say: “My opponent is a liar and cannot be trusted.” They walk out on stage, and for his first question, he goes on a long monologue about how he is a terrible choice for president, he has no idea how to lead, and that Hillary isn’t as bad as everyone thinks, and would at least be competent as president. Hillary’s response? “My opponent is a liar and cannot be trusted.” It’s a damning critique of Hillary’s inability to sound natural and reliance on soundbites. Garrison begs her to “get out of her own way,” but she counters every attempt for him to give up with her soundbite. He finally panics and mutters to himself “F*ck, oh f*ck, why did it have to be her, I’m so f*cked.”

Meanwhile, the boys prepare for the gender war that is brewing in the aftermath of Cartman’s “offing.” Meanwhile, he wanders the hall, unseen by the population. However, he hears a voice calling to him. It’s Heidi Turner, who leads him to the park, where no one has social media. The two spend the rest of the episode bonding, speaking in monotone and existing in their Our Town-esque afterlife. A couple drives by in a car, and we are treated to a recreation of the ending to The Seventh Seal.

Meanwhile, Randy is upset people are still supporting Garrison after the debate. However, people appreciate the fact he doesn’t sound like a typical politician. Unfortunately, that honesty is, “Please listen to me. Do not vote for me. I am a terrible person. If you vote for me, I will lose all faith in humanity. I have no idea how to deal with Russia. Based on my history, I would probably get drunk and try to suck Putin’s d*ck. Please don’t vote for me.” He’s applauded for his honesty. Unfortunately, Randy is watching, and realizing he agrees with Garrison that he shouldn’t be president, decides he agrees with him and should vote for him. He tells the Garrison supports in town, but they’ve found themselves drifting towards Hillary. Randy screams at them that you can’t just flip flop like that, but they point out that he’d just done it for Garrison. They realize they are literally fighting over nothing, and they realize that something is working against them-something is causing the country to have a meltdown. Randy can’t figure it out, but when he’s served his Member Berry pie, he puts two and two together. He drives down to visit the Old Farmer, who shows that he’s grown thousands and thousands of Member Berries, which are themselves fighting over which is better: the eighties or nineties. The plot remains unresolved, but it seems pretty clear that the Member Berries are going to play a sinister role this season-probably along the lines of the ads last season.

Back with Gerald, he sees the effect his trolling has on the news, as they discuss his feud with Ollengard again. However, he soon is horrified to learn that she has killed herself over the attacks, and the news shows the entirety of her jump from a 17-story building (only censoring the impact, but not the blood, mocking the double standard of our modern news cycle). Apparently I spoke too soon last week when I criticized them for not going all out with the effects of trolling.Gerald realizes his actions and begins to panic. Meanwhile, Denmark declares that they know how to handle trolls, having handled them for years (you know, in fairy tales), and declare war on them. Back in South Park, Gerald finds a note on his car declaring “I know who you are.” Panicking, he destroys his phone, his files, his computer, and his hard drive, all of which he stuffs in a bag and catapults into the river. It’s a hysterical sequence, and one that becomes funnier when he realizes Ike may still have access to his files. He logs into Ike’s computer, and discovers an email. He panics, questioning Ike’s loyalty and asks if he knows who he is. The response? “I want to, Dad!” It’s one of the funniest line deliveries in recent memory. However, Gerald reads the email, and it demands that he meet the mystery person under the Fremont Bridge the following day at noon (which, research shows me, has a giant troll statue under it).

Meanwhile, Eric and Heidi continue to bond, and Cartman indicates he may, in some way, be turning over a new leaf. It may not last, but it’s still something. They go to McDonalds together, where Cartman asks Heidi an important question: Do girls have balls? (an allusion to the first episode of the season) Heidi says no, but this only confuses Cartman even more-how do they scratch their balls without balls? She offers to show him, leaving Cartman shocked, as well as the audience. Does…does Cartman have a girlfriend, you guys? That’s too strange a concept for me.

So that’s last night’s episode. In many ways, it was interesting, and there were funny moments, but it didn’t feel like everything fit together. It feels like the show is so desperate to make this serialized concept work, it’s forgetting to actually focus on funny, concrete material. It’s not a bad episode, it just missed out on being so much more.


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