Last week, South Park made the decision to bring back the creature known as ManBearPig, and in doing so, address the unfortunate implications of his 2006 debut. Now that the show had firmly stated that yes, ManBearPig/Global warming is real, the primary question would be whether or not anyone in town would believe the truth, or want to do anything about it. As you might expect, progress is slow on that front, which is pretty much given away by the episode’s title. Indeed, no one has gotten cereal about the threat of MBP, and while the boys manage to break out of prison, the rest of the town is still just wondering if they should start to worry.
The point about global warming skepticism is laid on a bit thick here, especially since Trey and Matt clearly had doubts about it themselves, but I did enjoy the talkshow segment Should I Start To Worry, where the point ultimately goes back around from being heavy handed to somehow being funny again. It was a bit reminiscent of episodes like “The Biggest Douche In the Universe,” where the public’s willingness to completely ignore the obvious truths being laid before them in order to continue believing what they want to believe is played for laughs. While South Park’s politics have evolved over the years, one of its most firmly held beliefs is that people are idiots, and that was fully on display in “Nobody Got Cereal.”
At the end of last week’s episode, we saw Stan’s Grandpa look on in horror as the kids were hauled to jail, realizing it was the deal he had made with ManBearPig years ago that created the predicament they’re in now. At the time, I was hoping it would be something specifically related to his character, and perhaps a callback to a past episode. Instead, Grandpa represents all elderly people (I guess he’s just the one really old guy in town?) and how their past desires to drive cool Trans-Ams and eat boutique ice cream created the environmental desire we face now. I still would have enjoyed it more if Grandpa had played a more specific role, but this is admittedly the most logical way to explain the rise of ManBearPig, considering the obvious metaphor being made. What works here is that despite initially being sorry, Grandpa becomes more and more defensive as time goes on. It works; he’s always been a crank, and he’s not going to stop now, especially not when the young whippersnappers are calling him out.
As for Al Gore, he returns in the episode, in ways that are equal parts funny and confusing. First, he pretends to appear as a ghost, when he’s really just using the magic of projection. Then, he begins to seemingly talk to his own ghost, and even makes a movie starring a ghost-like version of himself. It’s all disorienting, and suggests that the combination of searching for MBP, and having no one believe him have caused him to go insane. I’m curious to see if they go back to this, although considering the eventual resolution, it wouldn’t surprised me if he’ll be abandoned for the final three episodes. The bits with Gore were amusing enough, but it feels like they couldn’t really find a way to advance the plot with him, and just kept him around to make jokes. As he repeats the same advice over and over, it slows the pace of the episode considerably. For a moment, I was worried we’d be in for a repeat of season 20, where it would take an entire episode for a single part of the story to be advanced. Thankfully, once Gore disappeared, it set us up for a strong ending.
Inspired by both Gore’s words, as well as Stan’s reminder that mankind is basically doing his work for him, Satan goes to fight ManBearPig, and loses badly. The Satan-MBP scene is incredibly well done, and ranks among the most cinematic moments in the show’s history. When MBP strikes the final blow, we get a nice callback to the early days as a teary-eyed Kyle says “dude, this is pretty fucked up right here” for the first time in God knows when.
Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny hide out in the school, based on Kyle’s reasoning that they won’t be caught, while Stan finds them because he figured it was the most obvious place to look. They get caught again, and Cartman gives Kyle some actually-deserved-for-once ribbing about picking such a poor place to hide out. It initially appears that this episode will end the same way as the last one, with the kids going to prison because no one wants to believe MBP killed everyone. This time however, Sgt. Yates has a change of heart, mostly due to having to start a new game of Red Dead Redemption 2 because his wife kept playing without him. He lets the kids go, and allows them to make a deal with ManBearPig. Unfortunately, instead of ice cream and cars, he now wants people to give up soy sauce and RDR2. I’ll be honest; the soy sauce thing I don’t get. That he would want them to give up the game seems like a reference to Rockstar’s poor treatment of workers who were rushed to finish it, and the fact that most people didn’t consider boycotting it for a second. The soy sauce thing is pretty random, though. At any rate, it’s a no-go, and the boys enter into re-negotiation with MBP, with the clause that he’ll comeback five years more terrifying than ever. Grandpa laughs in the background, satisfied that people today were just as susceptible to greed as his generation was.
The ending here was a nice (and perhaps unintentional?) call back to Season 8's “Pre-School,” where the kids keep getting Trent Boyet thrown in juvie, figuring five years down the line is too far-off for them to care about. What I’m mostly wondering here is where the show goes next. There’s three episodes left, and based on the language of the contract, MBP is at least temporarily gone (to re-appear in Season 27?). Where do we go from here? I have to imagine the final three episodes will focus on the success or failure of Tegridy Farms, as well Mr. Hanky probably attempting some sort of comeback after his exile to Springfield. There’s certainly quite a bit to play with. I won’t lie; I figured MBP was going to be a big part of the rest of the season, but if this was the resolution of his part of Season 22, it was a satisfying way for him to go out.
- It’s fair to assume Trey and Matt have been playing quite a bit of RDR2, right? They reference a lot of very specific qualities of the game. To a certain extent, the last two episodes have brought back nice memories of “Make Love, Not Warcraft.”
- “That’s why I always came on your Grandma’s tits!” I didn’t manage to catch Grandpa’s entire speech, but it was by far the funniest part of the episode, especially since they had been playing everything very straight at that point.
- So, will Yates and Maggie get a divorce? Or will we see any more of him this season? I’m certainly curious to see if they can work things out.