South ParQ Vaccination Special Review
Back in September, South Park tried to make us laugh at just how bad things got for us in 2020. Their solution? An appopriately named “Pandemic Special“. While it was a good idea in concept, it was trying to cram everything bad about 2020 into sixty minutes of TV. In other words, it ended up falling flat in its execution. I still don’t know what the Aesop for it was! Thankfully, the world’s gotten marginally better in those six months. We got vaccines rolling out, Trump’s out of office, and things are slowly returning to normal. Which means South Park had to follow up with a vaccination special.
Like last time, it was trying to juggle multiple plot threads, but the vaccination special did it a little better.
Everyone Wants a Shot at the Vaccination Special
The good news: the COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out as I write this. However, the bad news is that there aren’t enough to go around. Which means who gets a shot at vaccination, which is driving the people of South Park nuts. They have the Walgreens set up like an exclusive night club that only lets the elderly in, who waste no time in rubbing it in everyone’s faces. I found the whole thing to be a dark, but hilarious, representation of the frustration people are feeling in America right now. People are struggling to get shots, even the ones that should be considered essential workers like teachers. That anger will eventually boil over, which is what happens with the kids teacher, Ms. Nelson. After a prank involving ketchup done by Cartman and Kenny pushes her too far, the kids teacher refuses to work until she gets a shot.
So, the classic quartet of South Park boys does something I’m surprised I haven’t heard about in the news yet. They get into their local Walgreens and outright steal the vaccinations for their teachers. From their, though, the boys become split over who should get them, with their “broship” looking like it might sink. For good.
Unlike the Pandemic Special, the Vaccination Special seems to do a better job with keeping a somewhat coherent story. I think. Honestly, I was more interested in Mr. Garrison in the special.
Mr. Garrison is Back
Before Mr. Garrison was the show’s stand-in for Trump, he was the teacher of the kids of South Park. Until he got fired several seasons ago for being a jerk. Having lost the election, Mr. Garrison returns to South Park and tries to act like he never left, despite his actions making him utterly despised by everyone in town. Except for the Whites and the QAnon people, who are convinced he’s just biding his time to regain power.
I’ll be honest: I liked seeing Mr. Garrison come back, as I was curious about how he would fit into the show in a post-Trump America. However, did they really have to resort to using the White family again like before? It wasn’t funny the first few times, and it isn’t funny now. Well, seeing them try and use a fake tutoring business to feed kids their nonsensical conspiracy theories was funny, but nothing else was. Eventually, Mr. Garrison gets fed up with the Whites and the other conspiracy theorists and admits that he doesn’t care anymore. He just wants to get his old life back.
What happens next, I’m still not entirely sure, but it’s one of the trippiest fourth-wall breaks I’ve ever seen. I think Mr. Garrison made a deal directly with Matt and Trey to fix everything in town. And it works.
Vaccination Special Saves Everyone. Except Ms. Nelson
In the end, all the problems of the special get resolved when Mr. Garrison gets everyone in town vaccines straight from Israel. Just like that, he’s redeemed in the eyes of the town. Status quo is God, after all.
Speaking of status quo, Mr. Garrison’s return also means that Ms. Nelson is no longer needed. In a tragic irony, she ends up dying of COVID right before she can get a shot. While this may seem like a cruel jab to some over the fact that people are still dying while waiting to get COVID Vaccinations, it makes sense in the context of the show. Ms. Nelson was a flat character with almost no purpose outside of teaching, so she had to be written out. Mr. Garrison’s back to being teacher again. And everyone celebrates being vaccinated.
Overall, the Vaccination Special was every bit as nonsensical as the Pandemic Special was. However, it also ends on a much more positive note. Yes, the road ahead will still be long and hard, but the end may be in sight at last. If we’re lucky, things can return to a sense of normality before the year’s out. Ultimately, I think that’s the message of the Vaccination Special, and if that’s the case, then it delivered way better.
I Give “South Park: The Pandemic Special” a 3/5
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