SOUTH PARK “Black Friday” Episode Recap
It’s been too long since there’s been an epic, multi-part episode of South Park. Generally, these go well. They’re inspired, well thought out and plotted. This episode is no exception. As far as references go the episode is built on elements including Black Friday, Game of Thrones, Xbox One vs. PS4, and a little bit of Star Trek. The episode uses these elements well, allowing the references to breathe life into the story, rather than distract from it.
Instead of relying too heavily on one character or one joke, which seems to be one of the bigger problems this year, this episode effortlessly blends many of the primary characters and jokes without hammering you on the head with anything. Rather than try and tell us how soulless and horrific Black Friday shopping is, it’s an assumed point of view. In this way, they’re able to move right along with the jokes. There is the brief interlude featuring a news story about Black Friday (with the subtle joke that “Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you know what that means…” having nothing to do with the actual holiday, but blind consumerism). Herein, there are plenty of funny moments including a family barely grieving the death of their young daughter, back for revenge on some other family’s child and a particularly large and vicious woman who reminded me a bit of Bat Dad. It all works so well throwing joke after joke, all of them feeling fresh, none of them becoming stale. They move on from that point about how bad Black Friday is and into the good stuff.
I love South Park episodes where the kid’s naiveté takes over. Here, they’ve only just learned of Black Friday (sort of a similar naming system that George RR Martin uses with the Red Wedding or the Battle of Blackwater Bay) and under Cartman’s guidance, dressed as Gandalf once again…except as a sort of amalgam of Game of Thrones characters instead, they’re going after the new gaming systems. Unknown to some of the others, he meant only the Xbox One, not the Playstation 4. After the rift, the small, pathetic PS4 enthusiasts go off in hopes of finding others to join their cause. While the Xbox Army grows, the PS4 group becomes a collection of the Goth Kids and the mentally handicapped or ugly. Then Cartman says pre-ordering something is like having a dick in your mouth. I promise, just because I pre-ordered a PS4 doesn’t mean I’m an ugly, mentally-handicapped Goth Kid with someone’s dick in his mouth…I promise.
I loved Butters’ critiques of Game of Thrones. It’s one of my all time favorite shows but I do love a good ribbing. I’m not saying that I’ll go back and examine every scene where a guy has his weiner out and decide if that’s Renly Baratheon or Ser Loras Tyrell (the gay ones) or not…but I am curious if that’s the case. If so, let us know (if Buzzfeed hasn’t already…)
All of the references fit cleanly into the episode…none of them feel forced. Lately South Park has been plagued by older and disjointed references. However, in this episode, they all perfectly fit together. Up until the Tickle Me Elmo joke. Unless there is a new Elmo toy…this is like 20 years too late. Although Tickle Me Elmo sort of ushered in the modern era of Black Friday madness…so it sort of works as grandfathering in the xbox and ps4 of the current Black Friday era.
As the episode comes to a close, there’s this build up to what might come next: the actual Black Friday battle. I’ll assume it’s a two-parter since that would make the most sense in such a truncated season. I’m interested to see where Kyle’s loyalties truly lie…with the Xbox One or with his best friend, Stan. When they play the tension between those two, especially with Cartman in the wings, we get some of the more honest writing in South Park. So we shall see…after all, Winter is Coming.
It’s obvious to me, but I’ve got to pair it with “The Return of The Fellowship of the Rings to the Two Towers” (Season 6, episode 13).
- “Of course we’re gonna go with the PS4, it’s blacker” Michael, the goth kid.
- “It’s my yard and I’m sick of you kids dressing up and having talks of betrayal in it!” This is absolute brilliance.
- “Brack Friday Bunduru”…oh dear god.
- Randy as Jon Snow here makes sense. He’s pretty dumb and doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. You know nothing, Randy Marsh.
- God I miss Game of Thrones! But I agree with Butters somewhat. I keep waiting for the dragons, but it’s just a bunch of wieners.