South Park Season 20 Episode 8 Review: “Members Only”

South Park Season 20 Episode 8 Review: "Members Only"

South Park is always a lot more interesting when it’s an election season, and that primarily happens because of how much the presidential race dominates the topics of episodes. The election is the most important event to come around every four years, and the show never fails to touch on what it thinks about the state of the country and the possible future leaders. This season and the last have only been more extreme because of the two candidates the country ended up with, and last week’s results really set a lot in motion for South Park. Between the events in America as well as the Troll Hunter software nearing a worldwide release, the show has left a lot in question, and it will be interesting to see if South Park’s big 20th season will somehow shift the landscape of the show going forward.

The primary story that “Members Only” focuses on is Garrison going full Trump now that he’s actually been elected. In what is probably a combination of Garrison not hating that he has the power and the influence of the member berry exposure (which we don’t know how often Garrison gets face blasted), the new President of the United States in South Park is ready to silence all of his haters. The episode takes a pretty strong anti-Trump stance, but does so in an understanding and playful way where Parker and Stone seem to be sending the message to the public saying, “hey, you guys chose this, but if this is the result, don’t say we didn’t warn you.” The Darth Vader transition of Garrison into Trump was really clever, but shouts that they believe the country has fully turned to the dark side. “Members Only,” like usual South Park episode titles, has many meanings, and one of them is the idea that with Garrison leading the country, it will become a place of exclusivity, alienating lots of people. The character goes around, instilling fear in everyone from South Park that doubted him, and while South Park isn’t necessarily trying to outright turn people against the President, the creators clearly want to express and display the worry that most of the people in the country are dealing with right now.

One of the more interesting things that the show manages to do is not let themselves be backed into a corner when it comes to a story. For instance, last week, Parker and Stone had to change the dialogue in their episode on the fly, the day the episode was being released. This season, South Park introduced two unique villains, the member berries (representing nostalgia) and the current state of internet culture (Trolls/ Wikileaks); two things that are more villains on the world’s culture currently.  No matter the outcome of the election, both of these villainous personifications have too much influence on the characters right now. Garrison’s win seems to only enhance the strength of the member berries, and this episode reveals there is something bigger in the works with them. While it’s super interesting that there is no single person who created the member berries (at least not yet), they are operating with their own agenda right now. The member berries are a really peculiar story line because they have really broken off from their initial introduction of making people nostalgic and clearly are a part of something bigger that is still a huge mystery. The member berries story is all hinging on their full purpose, which is probably world domination.

As for the trolls, could Troll Hunter somehow be influenced by the member berries as well, trying to get everyone to realize they can’t hide their past on the internet? With all of the major trolls locked up, it seems like there is really no way out of this for them as of right now. With Kyle’s realization that his father is Skankhunt, it could possibly lead to him finding a way to break them out, but again, things are completely up in the air with that plot. Although the trolls are definitely in the wrong to some extent, South Park seems to be highlighting the idea that everyone has at least a little bit of dirty laundry, and does it really do more justice than harm to expose all of these people? Both the Danish people at Troll Hunter and the trolls themselves seem to be in a large scale power struggle when neither should control this type of information or have this large of an impact.

South Park always manages to utilize it’s popularity to speak up and voice concerns that it has with the world. This season has done nothing short of that and makes very fair and relevant points on how people operate and that internet culture is beginning to dictate decisions it shouldn’t be. Between websites like WikiLeaks and average internet users being able to quickly access private information or crash websites is concerning and not a stable way to operate. The show is keeping a lot of things mysterious right now, but Parker and Stone have shown their ability to craft a phenomenal serialized story, so you can bet season 20 has big things planned.

Other Thoughts:

*The Member Berries massive White House “Africa” party was incredible. Just when you thought they couldn’t top that car scene…..

*Gerald trying to get Ike to troll for him was amazing, especially when he has to play dumb about it on the phone. “I’m just really F*cked up inside.”

*I loved the scene where Garrison gets the Trump hair in his Vader chamber. I can’t remember if they used the sound of Vader’s helmet sealing when the hair seals on Garrison’s head, but I hope they did.

*Sheila’s massive scream at the end was great.

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