South Park

South Park: S21E07 “Doubling Down” Review

Full Spoilers Ahead

After a week hiatus, South Park is back! With it, comes a roller-coaster of emotions! This is the most soap opera episode I’ve seen in a while, and that was actually some of the best stuff I’ve seen in this show! Unfortunately, there was the poorly thought out B-plot involving President Garrison that went almost nowhere. I would have almost forgotten all about it if it wasn’t for the fact that I was taking notes throughout the episode.

I may as well get the bad out of the way first. President Garrison’s aides find out that his approval ratings have gone down after doing some controversial things, like excessively mispronouncing a certain African country, among other things (this show really likes to comedically display the worst of humanity). The aides plead with the President to watch what he’s doing, so he doesn’t make things worse. So of course, President Garrison rapes them, because that’s what he does. One of his oaths to office was that he would “fuck everyone to death” after all. (Yeesh!)

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You do not want to know what President Garrison is saying on the phone! (Picture Source: Comedy Central, Esquire.com)

The aides find it hard to defend the President and his actions, and Paul Ryan decides to use the information regarding the controversies and the low poll numbers, so that he can get the swing voters to vote against him, and so he doesn’t have to work for him anymore. Unfortunately, Mike Pence turns on him. They all get sexually assaulted again at the end of the episode. (Seriously, Yeesh!)

While the sexual assault is implied, it doesn’t make these scenes any less cringe inducing. These scenes don’t do anything more than let you know that, “There is a terrible person in office, and look at all the terrible things he does!” There’s a lot of jokes that play off of the fact that the President is an incredibly offensive person, and that he’s like an abusive father, or husband to his family of White House officials. While a couple jokes work, most did not, because we already know he’s an incredibly offensive, and a terrible human being. There’s no surprise!

The biggest crime of these scenes is that there’s no real plot, nothing to keep you invested with what these characters are going through. It’s like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch that has a kernel of an idea, but doesn’t know how to make it work.

This might have worked better with some sort of fantastical element (The Memberberries cameo isn’t enough). South Park works great when it uses science fiction or the fantastical to satirize real life situations. I feel as though it was needed here. The President is an open target for satire, but they could have done better than this. Unless satire really is dead… whoa, that’s a depressing thought!

Now, to the good of the episode. While they don’t seem to have a good idea on how to use President Garrison offensiveness to good effect, they’ve been using Cartman’s offensiveness in amazing ways for several years now.

Cartman and Heidi’s relationship has always been a rocky plot for me. I just never got why Heidi would go out with someone like Eric, but this episode puts this relationship into a wonderful, new light.

Heidi has broken up with Cartman again, and Cartman just cries his way back into that relationship, as what always seems to happen. Cartman’s manipulation is cranked to 11 this episode. He promises Heidi that he’ll become vegan if they get back together. After becoming vegan, he not only turns back on that, but tricks Heidi into eating KFC by saying that he got food from a restaurant called “Beyond KFC,” an offshoot of the vegan store “Beyond Meat”. Heidi starts feeling bloated, and Cartman then starts calling her fat behind her back, and Kyle can’t stand this.

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You also don’t want to know what the drum represents. (Gif Source: Comedy Central)

Kyle tries to understand why Heidi is going out with Cartman, and it’s from there we get a lesson. She said yes to Cartman in the first place, because she was in a bad place for so long.  When someone started complementing her, and making her feel better about herself, she followed her heart and decides to go out with Cartman. The more they stay in a relationship, the more she feels as though she has to defend it. The more she defends it, the more everyone makes fun of her for it. She keeps doubling down on the relationship, and she feels if she completely gives up, she’ll be seen as a failure.

This is excellent writing! It made me feel bad about thinking that she should completely break it off with Cartman! I mean, she should, but this episode shows how we may want the right thing for a friend (or a stranger), but we might come at it the wrong way. It’s not only enlightening, and poignant, but they even find a way to make it funny!

Kyle talks Heidi through her emotions, and in turn, sparks a relationship with her. In the course of a montage with a well placed Rihanna song, Heidi decides to fully break up with Cartman and go out with Kyle instead.

The next scene, where Cartman goes to Tokens place and compares the troubles ending of a relationship with the troubles of being black is hilarious. In fact, everything that he thinks about people who aren’t like him is really funny, because it’s done through a forcibly naïve way that only a stubborn, ignorant brat could think up.

When Cartman finds out that Kyle’s been hanging out with Heidi, he gets mad, and attempts to beat up Kyle. Attempts, and comes no where close to succeeding.

The school girls take Heidi out to diner, and in another smart scene, accidentally makes Heidi feel bad about going out with Cartman again. The girls constant push the idea that Heidi made a mistake, confirming her fears to her that she failed, makes this a really sad scene. Heidi gets pushed so far, that she comes back to Cartman again.

Cartman puts his manipulation gloves back on, and educates Heidi that nothing was her fault, and that she was being manipulated, and it almost seems as though Cartman might do something decent! But then we remember that he’s Cartman, and that’s nowhere close to being true. Cartman informs her that, because Kyle’s a Jew, and Jews can be manipulative, that of course everything is Kyle’s fault.

Cartman is how you use offensiveness correctly, because everything he does is so layered, that it can’t mistaken as being offensive for offensive sake. If that were the case, we would have all given up on him a long time ago! But Cartman is such a compelling villain, that you just want to see what he does next.

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You probably shouldn’t know what’s on Paul Ryan’s eye. (Picture Source: Comedy Central, Newsbusters.org)

This was a mostly great episode, that if it wasn’t for the 5 minutes of President Garrison, this would have been a perfect episode. It brought on a who new light so a situation that we thought we knew perfectly well. This still ranks among one of the better episodes that I’ve seen, and I look forward to seeing what what happens next! I really hope there’s a Stan episode, because we haven’t had much of those yet this season. Maybe a Token episode would be fun as well. I won’t know till next week, because of the way they make these things!

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments! Thanks much!

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