One of my gripes in the MFA workshop was that students would turn in work that wasn’t finished, like, say, a couple chapters of a book, or the first half of a story, etc. A lot of the time, some of my fellow students would discuss the piece with the premise of “well, we don’t really know where it’s going, so we shouldn’t judge it based on what we have because it could go somewhere great”, which I always thought was the coward’s way out. It’s sort of like the writer turned in something knowing that they’d get off the hook because, hey, how can you judge a cake before it bakes, right?
I bring this up because, throughout most of the episode “#Rehash”, I had no idea it would be a two-parter. It was only towards the last five minutes when I realized, okay, they’re not going to resolve this until next week. In a way, that gave me a bit of a better feeling for what I’d seen. But it also left me feeling a bit underwhelmed, because for all intents and purposes, this was a very weak half-hour of South Park that without having known would lead into a second installment, I would have considered a giant misfire.
We’ll see how it resolves next week. I have high hopes, and I believe Trey and Matt will pull it off. They’ve done a little bit of experimenting with a longer continuity this season (past seasons have had mini-arcs of continuity, like Kenny being trapped in Cartman’s body, or the search for a new friend, etc.) and it’s been a real treat. Randy as Lorde has been a nice arc, with it looking like it will come to a nice conclusion at the end here. In this episode, the cracks begin to show. Randy wants out. Not just because it’s time-consuming, or taxing on his mental stability (I assume), but because he doesn’t fit in with the current state of pop music, with its fascination on butts and holographic dead celebrities and its apparent lack of morality. We made Iggy Azalea a thing, and she’s just a white chick with a fat ass appropriating black culture. Way to go, us.
But he can’t get out, because he’s in debt to the record studio, since Stan blew all his money on freemium games. Nice to see that the actions of previous weeks play in here (including Sharon being pleased that even though Randy as Lorde is rubbing his/her clit on stage in front of thousands of people, at least he’s not performing cock magic). The continuity seems to only really affect the Marsh household, as I believe that the gymnasium was back to normal in a previous episode, after Butters had burnt it down and all. Speaking of, where is that kid? Hopefully he makes a triumphant return in next week’s finale.
As for what’s new here: Cartman is a Youtube personality (Cartman brah!!) and Kyle is feeling disillusioned by the dissolution of the “family living room”. Ike’s on his computer all day watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube, and his parents are seemingly nowhere to be found (Sheila’s outrage over things that may corrupt her children has been surprisingly absent for what seems like many seasons, maybe she ran her course?). Kyle, in the episode’s most interesting moment, wanders aimlessly around his empty house, wondering how this all could have happened.
The internet. That’s how it all happened. A thing that consumes us all, myself included, though I can’t say I spend as much time watching Youtubers as others do. Yes, I’m familiar with Let’s Play videos, and can sometimes see the point (before buying a game, it’s helpful to watch how the game is played, so that I might want to play it for myself). But I never listen to the commentary, unless it’s actually helpful, like for a complex game a la Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri which I tried to pick up, failed miserably at, even after listening to how it’s played on Youtube. But watching young kids scream their way through Call of Duty matches? No thanks. I don’t know how the fuck PewdeePie is (apparently he’s a popular Youtuber that everyone, excluding teenagers, seems to hate) but if that’s the way the medium is moving, then yeah, I feel Kyle’s existential crisis too.
Enough about summary, though, here’s the review: for the beginning half of this episode, I was bored, and annoyed. I thought the whole “commenting on commenting” stuff was a somewhat funny idea, and sure, it might make you think about the fact that yes, our society IS comprised merely of commenting on things (much like this review! hooray!) but it just wasn’t that funny or clever. It more pointed out that fact as opposed to did anything clever with it. Cartman’s floating comment box was funny, I guess, especially when it becomes sentient and students and faculty in the school start to acknowledge it as existing in their own time and space. But the actual *jokes* made as he’s commenting aren’t that great. Maybe that’s the point? Sure. But it still didn’t make me laugh much.
The strongest stuff surrounded Kyle and Randy’s bleak outlook on today’s society. I thought that resonated the strongest, since yes, we are all on our smart phones and tablets and we don’t pay attention. In fact, as I was watching the show with my roommate, I saw him consciously put down his phone once these points were made, as if he realized what he was doing wrong. So that’s something.
But the weakest stuff was the hologram junk. Michael Jackson is back, in hologram form, and the moment they announced it I said “he’s gonna come alive and shit” and he did. Bad South Park. I shouldn’t be able to telegraph story beats. Having hologram Tupac sent to track him down (and presumably kill him? holographically? I don’t know just run with it) was a funny beat, but what’s that story going to do? We run through the old jokes of “that’s ignorant” and MJ’s past indiscretions with children, and again, maybe this will all pay off in an unexpected way, but was it really funny? Meh. And could it stand alone?
Like, if you go back when this is all over, and you can only watch this one episode without the second one, would you? My guess is even after we see the second one, people will say no. Meanwhile, you can watch any of the Game of Thrones episodes and still laugh your ass off. Even Imaginationland episodes had enough to stand on their own. This one, though, feels too much like setup. A “just wait, it’ll all pay off!” lead-in. But imagine if this was a book, that you spent hours, maybe days reading, only to be waiting to get to the next book in the series which everyone says “is totally worth it, brah”. Would you read it?
South Park Review Grade: C