South Park: “Wieners Out” Season 20 Episode 4 Review

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Season 19’s serialization seemed built to fit the South Park model. Individual episodes still thoroughly tackled different issues, just with the added aspect of the issues allowing the plot to flow into the next episode and eventually tie everything together at the end of the season. Season 20’s is different in that the season premiere introduced a bunch of plot threads that are now being carried out throughout the season, meaning the show is tackling anywhere from two to four different issues at a time, but over more episodes. Season 19’s model is more effective for what we know South Park to be. If the handling of a current cultural staple didn’t work, it was still gone for the most part the week after. Season 20 has five or so main storylines, the best of which are Mr. Garrison’s presidential campaign and Randy’s quest for answers on member berries, neither of which were prominently featured (though both were briefly acknowledged) in “Wieners Out.”

Instead, this slow slog of an episode continued the tedious Internet troll storyline that has Gerald front and center. The simple fact is Gerald is not one of South Park‘s most naturally funny characters (just think of how this plot thread might improve merely by having a Randy or a Cartman at the center of it). That means the comedy, or political commentary, has to come from the storyline itself, which didn’t happen in “Wieners Out.” The payoff of who left Gerald the note that read “I know who you are,” was dull, it being another Internet troll who’s part of an underground society of Internet trolls. Some nice timely story developments occurred when we learned that the Danish are developing technology to reveal the identity of every person on the Internet, ripping trolls of their anonymity, as well as the Internet as a whole of its privacy. This first step into a potentially interesting direction comes too late in the episode to save it, but at least we’re finally maybe getting somewhere here.

Faring a bit better was Butters’ “wieners out” protests that have the boys in school walking around with their privates out in response to the girls all breaking up with them. Conversely, Kyle discovers that, without the distraction of his devices, Cartman has found himself in a healthy relationship with Heidi. Jumping from their to having Kyle give in and join Butters’ protests didn’t flow as well as it could have, but I am very excited to see just how Cartman’s relationship is going to implode. South Park won’t keep their flagship voice out of character for too long, but given the circumstances, the story and comedy potential here are exciting.

Though it’s hard not to wish South Park would pair its setting up of these storylines with more genuine comedy. “Wieners Out” was not a very funny episode (though Butters’ new role as a men’s rights activist is definitely amusing). But there’s still time to save this season. It’s going to take a few knockout episodes in a row, but then that’s exactly the feat season 19 managed to pull off. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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