South Park’s midseason premiere for season 15 wasn’t the funniest episode I’ve ever seen, but it gave me and most South Park fans faith in the future, if only for the simple message it conveyed: Matt Stone and Trey Parker aren’t going anywhere.
After an incredibly somber midseason finale, a lot of South Park fans were concerned the writers were going to call it quits once they had finished out the season. With Stan seeing shit everywhere he goes and Randy and Sharon expressing their discontent, Stone and Parker made it extremely obvious that they were aware of how mediocre their show had become and even implied that it might be the end. But after “Ass Burgers” and the news that South Park has been renewed through 2016 (that’s 20 seasons), it’s safe to say Stone and Parker are about to go back to their winning ways as kings of comedy and satire.
Stan is still seeing shit everywhere and has become disenfranchised with the world, while Cartman learns of Asperger’s disease and tries to get out of school by putting hamburgers in his underwear and going to the nurse. The humor is not the focal point of this episode (although the cracks on Terranova, Jack and Jill, Two And A Half Men, Dolphin Tale and the Zookeeper are all welcome), but rather showing Stan’s attempt to move on. Nothing seems to be right in the South Park world as Wendy and Kyle don’t know what to do about Stan while Kyle and Cartman become friends selling Cartman’s delicious burgers thanks to his secret ingredient (his ass).
Stan is then made a part of the Secret Society of Cynics, a Matrix parody, who say the world really is shitty, but no one notices because they are being controlled by aliens (“or genetically-altered humans, whatever, fuck you!”). They reveal the only way to see the world as the happy place it used to be is Jameson, or basically, getting wasted. Stan getting drunk was a humorous addition, as were the heads of fast food chains meeting up to figure out how to take Cartman’s successful burger stand down (Dutch oven jokes aren’t new, but they were still inventive enough to be funny).
The episode boils down to the drunk society members massacring the fast food chain heads before Stan stops all the madness with a potent speech about accepting change and moving on as he realizes he doesn’t want things to go back to the way they were. His speech says a lot about the writers’ own feelings on the show, but then, in typical South Park fashion, Stone and Parker pull a fast one as Randy reveals that he and Stan’s mother are getting back together again, just as Stan has come to fully accept change. Things go back to normal as Wendy and Stan are together, Kyle explodes when he realizes Cartman’s secret ingredient and the Marshes become a family again.
An interesting and humorous twist at the very end shows Stan taking a swig of Jameson to help get him through the day, serving as a metaphor for the writers buckling down and delivering the content we’ve been waiting for. What fans can take from this episode is that the writers are aware season 15 hasn’t been up to par and that they were sick of doing the same thing over and over again. However, fans can also be assured that South Park isn’t going away and that as happy as we are to see Randy and Sharon back together, we should be even happier about the metaphor behind their reunion: South Park is back to its normal winning ways, and we should fully expect it to return to the humorous and satirical juggernaut it once was sometime soon.