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South Park Season 21, Episode 3: "Holiday Special"

The return to form fans of South Park have been praying for since season 19 may have finally come with “Holiday Special”, an episode that expertly blends classic South Park humor with current events. From anti-Columbus activists to Ancestry DNA, this episode is jam-packed with the humor and satire fans of the series have come to expect of the series.

Image from South Park Studios

In this Randy-centric episode, Columbus Day has been cancelled and Stan is more shocked than anyone to find out that his dad is behind it. The children’s exploits regarding the cancellation of Columbus Day takes a back seat to make way for the star of the episode, Randy Marsh, who helps create one of the most comedic episodes of South Park in recent history.

Following Randy’s trend of becoming heavily invested into organizations on a whim, he becomes an anti-Columbus protester going as far as tearing down and defecating on statues of Christopher Columbus and calling everyone from Columbus, Ohio to inform them on how racist they are, yet it becomes apparent Randy is hiding a dark past regarding his relationship to Columbus.

As the episode progresses, Randy is shown to have been an avid Christopher Columbus fan in past years (when everyone was “stoked on Columbus”). This ultimately sets up some of the greatest jokes in the episode and establishes one of the oddest, yet funniest character traits of Randy. As the boys become aware of Randy’s past they set out to expose him causing Randy to panic.

When Randy finds out he has been exposed he ends up watching TV, leading to one of the most hilarious South Park commercials in the series regarding Ancestry DNA. In a last-ditch effort to clear his name, Randy comes up with a plan to prove he isn’t racist and, in true South Park fashion, it is over the top and involves Randy making out with a Native American man who soon falls in love with him.

Image from South Park Studios

While Randy’s hijinks ensue, the boys continue their efforts to reinstate the day off by threatening and kidnapping the man who cancelled the holiday in the first place. While this side plot occasionally has some good lines (such as Cartman’s misguided vision of why Columbus Day exists), it is definitely the weakest segment of the episode. What’s here isn’t bad, but it detracts from the especially funny main plot and interrupts the flow of the episode.

What separates this episode from the past two seasons is its willingness to stray away from a serialized plot to make a self-contained story, which is a major strength. The knowledge that Randy’s misuse of the word ‘indigenous’ and Ancestry.com will most likely not become relevant to the overall plot of the season is a relief.

Overall, this is a solid episode that perfectly highlights what South Park is about, relevant satire hidden in crass jokes and scatological humor. While the episode struggles to keep all the plotlines equally interesting and important, it sets a great trend that if followed by the rest of the season, may lead to the return to form many fans have been hoping for.

Featured image from South Park Archives

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