“Moss Piglets” comes up with a great concept, but then fumbles it halfway into the episode, and I’m not just saying that to get a football pun in (more on that later). The issue to me is that the episode seems to care more about lampooning an institution rather than bringing up their wonderful characters. That’s not to say that there is no fun to be had, but it’s just so disappointing when they seemingly don’t trust their characters to carry this episode.
There’s a special science fair being put on for the Special Education kids in the school. Nathan and Mimsy have a plan! They will use their state of art science fair project (a baking soda volcano) to win the science fair, so they can be winners, and so they can get all the bitches, because winners get bitches, obviously. But trouble strikes for Team Nathan, as they fear that Timmy and Jimmy’s science fair project might take the cake this year, thus threatening Nathan and Mimsy’s chance to get all the chicks. Timmy and Jimmy’s project is the study of Water Bears. Water Bears, or Tardigrades, are water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals that are resilient to almost anything (Thanks Wikipedia). Nathan decides sabotage the Immy’s science fair project, and kill the Water Bears, by poisoning them, and electrocuting them. Unfortunately for Nathan, Water Bears are incredibly resilient (like Wikipedia says), and this only makes them smarter, start being somewhat domesticated, even civilized.
Now, that is a great set up. The rivalry between Team Nathan, and the Immy’s would have been more than enough to carry the episode. But then they messed it up by involving a plot with the NFL, and their ever-dwindling fan numbers. What is also disappointing is that some of the NFL jokes work! The idea that the NFL want to take the Water Bears to fill up the seats at games and become fans is funny! The NFL sub plot would have fine in another episode, but being placed here makes us forget all about the characters that have built up this great rivalry. I especially feel bad for the Immy’s, who get the most sidelined in this episode.
The other plotline thankfully works a lot better. It’s another Heidi and Cartman plot, but this time, things have gone to the next level. In the last episode, Heidi was an incredibly sympathetic character, who we all felt bad for, and who we could all relate to. In this episode, she evolves into the only possible thing that she could have after a year of dating Cartman. She becomes Cartman. She’s gained weight, she’s the asshole of her friends, she comes up with hair brained schemes to enforce her stubbornness, and the dynamics that she has with her boyfriend has almost completely flipped. It’s interesting how it parallels the Water Bears plot by showing what happens to a resilient character like Heidi. She doesn’t get destroyed by Cartman’s abuse, she evolves.
It’s never expressly mentioned in this episode, but it seems as though Cartman has finally seen the error of his ways, saying that he, and everyone else, misses old Heidi. Cartman realises this, but his pride will probably never get him to the point where he’ll admit that he’s the problem. Seeing Cartman suffer in a different way in this relationship is a great turning point. While I do miss old Heidi, this new Heidi seems to be the ultimate effect to the cause of Cartman.
Heidi is mad that she has to judge the science fair on a Saturday (that she volunteered for a month ago), so she goes on a tear. She bitches and complains to everyone about it, saying things like she now knows how being a slave feels like (a very Cartman thing to do). The steps she takes to not judge this science fair keeps the wonderful, and crazy escalation that this show does so well, to the point where Mr. Mackey says, “She’s kinda like Cartman, but with the ability to follow through.” Which I think is mostly false, because Cartman has followed through with a scheme many times, but just hasn’t succeeded that much. Heidi succeeds, her first scheme out, by drinking the Water Bears (that the NFL wanted to use as fans), that were swimming in lye contaminated water, thus cancelling the science fair (for some reason), and that brings the fear to me that she might eventually become worse than Cartman. A scary thought indeed.
There’s many questions that come up for me on this episode. Like if the NFL got the Water Bears as fans, do the Tardigrades have currency to buy merchandise, or purchase tickets? Why does the NFL need the science fair to happen, if they already have the Water Bears? Is Heidi now part Water Bear? Was I supposed to think that it was Joe Biden entering the school, before I found out it was Jerry Jones (a fact I had to google)? Ultimately this episode, while funny, is a bit of a mess. It’s disappointing, because all the ideas work independently, but they don’t sum up to a successful episode. This shouldn’t have even have been a two parter, as much as it should have just been two separate episodes. One for it’s characters, one for the institution they are lampooning. It’s fine as is, but South Park is capable of much more than this.
What did you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks much!