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South Park S20E6: “Fort Collins”

Six episodes into the epic ‘Memba Berries’ storyline, and it’s still not clear what South Park is getting at. Last week’s message about how unhealthy nostalgia is ruining both pop culture and politics is getting blurred together with the notion that secrets need to remain buried. “Fort Collins” seems to end with an on-the-nose endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Stone and Parker, at least to the extent that a vote for Hillary is a vote against Trump and J.J. Abrams. Except it totally isn’t an endorsement, because Stone and Parker seem to have something else up their sleeve. They may be hinting at where this is going, but…let’s see where this is going.

The plotlines finally seem to be converging closer together, with Gerald’s trolling of Denmark coming closer in connection with Cartman and Heidi’s romance. Did we all think that Cartman was maybe faking his conversion and love of Heidi? Because…he totally isn’t. A look into Cartman’s head shows he really is envisioning an idyllic future together with Heidi on a futuristic colonized (and very phallic looking) Mars. This is the real thing: Cartman is in love and really does seem to be becoming a better person for Heidi’s sake.

So Heidi proposes that Cartman patch up things with Kyle–Kyle, who used to be one of the consciences of the group, who’s now buried with guilt and convinced that he needs to stay with “his group.” But Heidi reveals what she proposed to the whole nation of Denmark last week–that online identities can be pinpointed based on emoji usage, and that the elusive Skankhunt might be found through his emoji fingerprint.

It works: Denmark gets TrollTrace online and exposes the e-mail history of the entire town of Fort Collins, Colorado, which leads to a mass riot that might very well be a parody of the opening of Day of the Dead. Gerald’s troll-buddy MLKKK is murdered by one of his victims, and suddenly the internet’s shield of anonymity is massively at risk.

Now one of this season’s themes–which hasn’t been explored much to date–suddenly comes rushing to the front. Is there a right to be left alone? To forget your past? South Park has been positing all season that nostalgia is dangerous, that living in the past prevents you from moving forward. That’s Gerald’s problem, infected with the ‘Memba Berry poison–he describes trolling as “being like a kid again,” like when you call a kid “fag” because it’s funny. (Dildo Schwaggins doesn’t find this funny at all.) But the opposite side of living in the past is pretending it didn’t happen, when in fact it did.

Cartman’s cool with all of this, until Kyle–in an argument over whether Heidi’s brilliant idea was also “funny”–points out that now anyone‘s internet history can be exposed, Cartman’s included. So Cartman–the kid who’s committed unlimited atrocities, up to and including feeding a kid his own parents–remembers how over the summer he sent a text saying that “chicks ruined” the new Ghostbusters. Of all things to panic over, Cartman worries that he’ll be exposes as an anti-feminist for hating Ghostbusters.

Gerald has bigger problems to worry about–he thought he’d successfully stopped TrollTrace, but now it’s back with a vengeance. Up until then, he’d been fully reveling in his trolling, as well as avoiding Dildo Schwaggins and the other trolls. There’s this weird sweetness present in the other trolls, as they’ve been seeking friendship and kindred spirits in their isolation. Gerald? He’s just an asshole, only willing to use the trolls to the extent that they can protect his identity. So when TrollTrace comes back online, as Dildo warned him, he’s got no friends at the end.

What’s still divorced from the episode is the ‘Memba Berries and Garrison’s run for political office. Randy and Garrison are helpless in finding a way to stop the Berries, who can withstand acid, fire, and worse in a delightfully awful torture segment. In one of the episode’s funnier segments, the Berries slip away into the night in a miniature car, rocking out to Toto’s “Africa” and remembering Star Wars after Star Wars segment. Oh, and they’re planning to kill one of their other Berries.

The weird political endorsement scene comes at the end, when Garrison has to level with the American people and caution them to vote for Hillary Clinton as an act of rebellion against Star Wars and Trumpish nostalgia and everything else that’s wrong with the country. It’s the strongest political stance we’ve seen South Park take to date, since they typically tend to reject both sides of the political aisle and have taken potshots at Hillary before. Is this a done deal?

Not really–because remember the right to be forgotten and keep your past buried? A dark moment at the end of the episode takes us to Clinton herself who, despite being certain she’s the President-elect, is still worried about TrollTrace. It’s an obvious take on Wikileaks’ continued attacks on Clinton this cycle, but it does seem like Stone and Parker are asking questions about whether the need to divert away from one candidate is costing us our ability to question the other.

We don’t know. We’re two weeks away from the election, and Stone and Parker once again remind us: buckle up, buckaroos.

Rating: Three berries out of five.

About Adam Frey (291 Articles)
Adam Frey is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. In the meantime, he's an attorney and moonlights as an Emergency Medical Technician in Maryland. A comic reader for over 30 years, he's gradually introducing his daughter to the hobby, much to the chagrin of his wife and their bank account.
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