South Park: Season 20 Episode 3 review – The Damned
Having spread far reaching emotional distress to the people of not only South Park, but the world, Gerald (A.K.A. SkankHunt42) discovers the true consequences of his actions. Last week, I started the review by saying that SkankHunt42’s reign of terror is far from over, but it appears that I was so very wrong as Gerald’s bit of fun takes a dark turn.
As with the first episode this season, episode three attempts to juggle quite a lot of storylines considering the 20 minute length of the episode. This week we rejoin Mr. Garrison (or as he is known now – Giant Douche) at the presidential debate; there’s the fallout of Cartman’s exile from social media and growing friendship with Heidi; of course we see a return of the Memberberries, learning just a little more about them (despite still knowing absolutely fuck all) thanks to an investigation by Randy Marsh, who is also connected to the presidential campaign storyline; and obviously we see more of Gerald’s antics as the online troll: SkankHunt42. While I lamented the number of storylines stuffed into the first episode, The Damned actually manages to succeed in offering a cohesive story as each thread begins to form a stronger connection.
The Damned begins by joining Freja Ollegard on a talkshow called Simply Heidi. They are discussing Freja’s recent experiences with internet trolls, and to try and bolster poor Freja’s confidence a little, the well-meaning host reads out some supportive messages while failing to realise that these messages were in fact left on the show’s messageboard by non-other than SkankHunt42, using offensive usernames in lieu of mean comments. The usernames Gerald used were reminiscent of the schoolyard ‘joke names’ such as “Ben Dover”, “Lou Sanus”, and so on, only Gerald’s choice of names were specifically targeted towards Freja and the fact that she is a breast cancer survivor.
We first see the children of South Park after a pair of cops show up at Kyle’s house to discuss Eric Cartman’s leaving of Twitter (much to the relief of Gerald). The boys are in absolute panic over the police involvement, but it is Butters that has it right – it isn’t the police the lads need to worry about, it’s Eric. Now, one of the greatest things to see in South Park is Cartman enacting an elaborate revenge plan against those that have done him wrong. I seriously cannot wait to see how Eric will get his own back on his friends, though I am a little worried that he may just move on; but honestly, if he does express forgiveness, I truly believe it won’t be sincere. He’s going to destroy his once so-called friends. Perhaps he’ll become a bona fide antagonist towards them later this season / next season. His friends have always been semi-shielded from Cartman’s wrath thus far, but we’ll see.
For the moment, however, Eric seems to have found solace in a new friend – Heidi Turner, the unfortunate victim of SkankHunt42 in last week’s episode. These two poor buggers were forced off the internet for vastly different reasons, but their lack of an online presence have brought the two together. It’s so odd to see Cartman interact with one of the girls in a positive way; he is so often being a massive arsehole to them, and naturally only shown contempt and disgust in return, but I don’t know, it’s actually kind of sweet to see Eric have a genuine friend who he likes in return. Fuck knows what went on at the end of the episode though – After they realise that being offline isn’t actually all that terrible, Cartman asks Heidi a question that has obviously been playing on his mind for a while now: Do females have balls at the bottom of their vaginas? Much to the surprise of Cartman, Heidi offers to show him. I have no idea where this is going. I mean, you could take this at face-value for what it is, or as this is South Park, something very unexpected is about to happen. Is this going to be like the time when Stan found the Clitoris in the forest during the South Park movie? Only time will tell.
As you may remember from my previous reviews, I am not that much of a fan of the presidential debate storyline. While that is still the case for the most part, this week I enjoyed seeing Mr. Garrison, the Giant Douche, go up against the Turd Sandwich. Sometimes these characters and their antics can go over the top a little, so I liked seeing Mr. Garrison have a real human moment in this episode. He finally publicly admitted that he doesn’t know what the Hell is doing in the presidential race, and would like to concede to the Turd Sandwich. This moment got a laugh from me due to the combination of Mr. Garrison desperately trying to give up his bid to be president while the Turd Sandwich, obviously in default mode refuses to acknowledge his decision, repeatedly calling him a liar (thanks to the unfortunate advice given to her by her, now embarrassed and annoyed, advisers moments before the debate took place, who naturally failed to suspect that Garrison would want to quit the race). I actually really found this particular storyline funny this week. Garrison’s desperate attempts to look bad and explain his situation only gained him more support, even after he expresses his contempt for the voting public, also managing to gain a fan in Randy Marsh – a fervent Democrat.
This leads us nicely to Randy’s involvement in the episode. For the most part, he spends his time arguing against the popularity of Mr. Garrison, the Giant Douche, but after seeing Garrison’s impassioned speech as to why people shouldn’t vote for him, his unwavering democratic support begins to falter. It is actually Randy that begins to kick off a suspicion about the state of the world this year. “Everything sucks” states Randy at the beginning of the episode, and as we progress this belief only intensifies; and this, my friends, is where the Memberberries enter into the episode. While expressing how shit the world is to Steven Stotch (Butters’ dad), he is offered Memberberry pie, something that momentarily distracts him. I’m not quite sure what it is at this moment, but just as he is about to bite into a slice something dawns on him. This leads us to a welcome return for the Old Farmer character (the one based upon Jud Crandall from Pet Semetary). This guy is one of the wonderful side-characters included in the show, and this week he is revealed to be a mass producer of the Memberberry fruit. At this point in time, it’s impossible to see just how involved he is with the over-reaching arc of the season or indeed with the actual plot behind Memberberries but I sure hope he manages to survive whatever comes over the next few episodes.
So, I began this review talking about SkankHunt42, and I will end it with him. As I mentioned, Gerald’s actions have finally caught up to him after the latest target of his trolling, Freja Ollegard, succumbs to his bullying and commits suicide; like, genuine suicide, not Twitter-suicide. This results in Gerald becoming incredibly panic-stricken, note that he doesn’t show any remorse, but simply fear that he is going to be royally fucked once he is found out.
As it turns out, somebody does know, but who? Gerald actually suspected exactly the same as I did – that it’s Ike who knows what his dad has been up to. After all, Ike is immensely intelligent and Gerald has been in a couple of times to gloat about what he does (badly masked as a life-lesson to Ike about the damages caused by trolling). Gerald demands to know if Ike knows who he is, only for poor Ike to heartbreakingly reply with “no, but I want to dad” to his frustrated father. That was so hilariously sweet and sad at the same time, but anyway, it would seem that Ike is not the anonymous threat to Gerald, but again, who could it be? I have heard a few theories suggesting it could be Kenny but most of those seem to be based around his oddly noticeable absence from these previous three episodes (other than the occasional appearance here and there). Personally, I don’t have a clue. Ike’s really the only person I can think of that could have figured it out based upon what we have seen so far, so…
Anyway, to round off, as we saw last week citizens of Denmark once again declare war on SkankHunt42, this time in retaliation for the bullying-induced suicide of poor Freja Ollegard. Gerald’s days are most definitely numbered. He can destroy his computer, his phone, but that won’t prevent him from getting his comeuppance. If this mysterious figure doesn’t out him first, the blood-thirsty troll-hunters of Denmark will fuck him right up. “To get a troll out of hiding, you must say its name”.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode and the various storylines presented therein. I still cannot help but love these weird little Memberberries. They’re such an odd concept, but they’re brilliant, I don’t even know why. I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular inclusion into the South Park universe unfolds (and I hope they make an appearance in the upcoming South Park: The Fractured but Whole videogame). Honestly, I don’t really have many complaints this week other than the fact that I miss stand-alone episodes. Not that I dislike the season-wide storyarcs, you understand, not at all, I love it, but it was nice to have a wide range of stand-alone stories over the course of a season.
And that is me done, my friends, once again it is over to your good selves. What did you think of the various situations this week? Who is Gerald’s mystery antagonist? And do you member Tattooine? Let me know in the comments below.
Image Credits: Comedy Central.