South Park: “The End of Serialization as We Know It” Season 20 Finale Review

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“The End of Serialization as We Know It” makes a good argument for South Park to live up to this episode title. After season 18’s abandoned continuity and the rush of success that came with season 19’s arc, season 20’s storylines just didn’t get off on the right foot. The member berries were hilarious, but eventually forgotten in favor of the weaker serialized stories, mainly Gerald’s role as one of the world’s most notorious Internet trolls. Mostly for worse, the finale of this landmark season focuses on this storyline, building off the legs it finally started to grow at the end of “Not Funny.”

With Kyle taking over his father’s mantle as Skank Hunt, he rallies the boys of South Park Elementary to flood the Internet with trolling to minimize the effects of Troll Trace. President Garrison gets wind of it and realizes that such loud and vast expressions of hate are the only way to save the country he inherited from oblivion. Jokes like these continue to land in the finale, carrying over their success from the past two episodes, but they’re still difficult too laugh at.

The trolling storyline, at this point utterly devoid of humor, reaches into the Space X storyline to try and mash everything together for the end of the season. Heidi’s equation allowed Elon Musk’s team to create a source of energy capable of sending humans to Mars. Somehow, this same energy source is what Kyle and Mr. Garrison employ to reset the entire history of the Internet. It doesn’t make much sense, and I think Matt and Trey know that, hence the title of the episode. Nine episodes into season 20, including one they had to rewrite in a single day when Hillary Clinton lost the election, and there was no way this muddled mess was going to get resolved at all satisfyingly.

Maybe the “end of serialization” is what South Park needs. The seasons prior to 18 all had standout episodes, where ideas were explored perfectly for 22 minutes and then we were done with them. But season 20 doesn’t even have a standout episode because the same lackluster storylines kept themselves in the forefront. If this new experimental era for South Park is in fact over, we at least have the seminal season 19 to speak for it. But for now, “The End of Serialization as We Know It” shows that this new format for the long-running series wasn’t built to last. Finale Grade: C+ / Season Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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