The first half of season 23 of South Park saw Randy Marsh become a little more indefensible with each passing episode. He destroyed homegrowers’ marijuana crops, he killed Winnie The Pooh to appease the Chinese government, he killed dozens of cows with Towelie in a weed-induced haze, and he’s been making his family hate him more and more at every turn. Every week, it’s been hard not to wonder when—if ever—he’d face any consequences for his actions. “Season Finale” addresses this issue right away, with Randy being arrested in the episode’s first scene, and put in jail for his many crimes. Everyone, it seems, has had enough of Tegridy Farms, and the town just wants things to get back to normal. After all he’s done, putting Randy behind bars does seem like the best way to accomplish that. In a particularly telling scene, his family is not the slightest bit upset to see him gone, and they openly fantasize about a scenario where he gets put away for a long time.
Just as everyone is enjoying the peace of Randy not being around, the town suffers yet another crisis. The boys are playing a football game, and Jason White gets run over by a police car while going for a pass. This scene is the latest in the long tradition of gory South Park scenes that are disturbing because of how casually everything is portrayed. The boys don’t seem to be all that shocked that one of their friends has suddenly died, perhaps because they’ve seen Kenny suffer the same fate so many times before.
It’s at Jason’s funeral that we are re-introduced to The Whites, the perpetually aggrieved family we first saw in season 21 (though Jason had appeared in earlier episodes, this was the first time we met his family). Just like last time around, many puns about their last name are made (“nobody cares when a White gets killed by the police!”) which would be tiresome if it didn’t work so damn well every time. Looking to fill the void left by Jason’s death, the Whites go to the detention camp first seen in “Mexican Joker,” where children are being put up for “adoption” which, as many others have pointed out, is a lot more like kidnapping. Here, we see some of the show’s most devastating satire, as the children are presented like dogs (“look at the Peruvian hairless!”), with little regard being given for their well-being. A common—and sometimes accurate—critique of South Park is that Trey and Matt can be too detached when taking on current events issues, not always being willing to take a firm stand. Here, though, they show some genuine outrage, and it results in one of the most brutally effective scenes since their portrayal of Jeff Bezos last season.
Looking for a way out of jail, Randy calls his last best hope, President Garrison/Trump, making his first appearance of the season. His advice is simple; just turn every accusation around on your accusers, and make yourself look like the victim, as Trump himself has been doing ever since he took office. Not the most subtle skewering, but it’s pretty much impossible to be subtle in parodying Trump, so they can be forgiven. When a weed-less Randy starts feeling genuine remorse for his actions, he tells a prison support group that part of why he was able to do so many awful things without feeling any guilt is because “I’m never as bad as the President, so I’m okay.” This was easily the funniest line of the night, and maybe the best jab they’ve gotten at Trump since the “Put It Down” song in the season 21 episode of the same name. While Randy is finally starting to hold himself accountable, he becomes tempted by evil when Rudy Giuliani visits him in prison, offering him a joint that he pulls out of his ass, while Garrison/Trump takes on Randy’s cause, and begins angrily proclaiming his innocence on Twitter. This puts Randy as a crossroads between wanting to do the right thing, and knowing he has an opportunity not to, with his decision ultimately telling us if he’s truly learned anything.
While Randy struggles with this decision, the Whites are shocked to find out that Alejandro, the boy they presumptively claimed as one of their own, isn’t so thrilled about being one of them. He misses his family, and is angry that he’s expected to forget that they even exist, and join a new family without question. Seeing Alejandro as ungrateful, they take another, smaller kid from the detention center, with the intention being that Alejandro would take care of it, thereby understanding how hard it is to be responsible for a child. This should go without saying, but the Whites really are some of the least savory characters in town. Even after the genuine tragedy of seeing their son pass away, they don’t seem to miss him that much beyond the first scene. Rather, they just use Jason’s death as a ploy to guilt everyone else in town. It’s easy to see why Alejandro would want nothing to do with this family, and sure enough, he runs away, with the final straw being them forcing him to where sunscreen despite it not being necessary (“All whites wear suncreen!”), a seemingly small detail that ends up playing a major role in the resolution.
When Randy faces arraignment, Garrison/Trump and Giuliani are by his side, and appears that he’ll take the cowards way out, falsely claiming that there really was a Mexican Joker who set fire to everyone’s crops, and he was merely trying to set a trap for him. As he tries to get through this speech, he has a change of heart, and begins telling everyone the truth, realizing that he lost his way, and accepting the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. Just then however, we hear bombs going off; there’s someone causing chaos and mayhem throughout the town. Who is it? Alejandro, wearing sunscreen on his face that happens to look a lot like Joker make up. Mexican Joker is real! Okay... honestly, I feel really dumb for not seeing this coming the second I saw the sunscreen on Alejandro’s face, and the way he immediately snapped. It was a clever twist, and one I really wish I had been able to figure out before its revelation. At any rate, Alejandro/Mexican Joker is quickly blamed for everything, shot by the cops, and Randy is set free. If we’re being honest, the writers pretty much had to come up with something like this; Randy had done enough damage that if he confesses to everything, he would have faced years in prison. With Randy simply being too important to the show for that to happen, there had to be some kind of scapegoat to take the fall for him. That said, they deserve some points for coming up with that scapegoat in a fiendishly creative way, and getting some crucial jabs in at Trump’s frightening immigration policies along the way.
After wanting to see Randy answer in some way for his cruelty, this ending can’t help but be a little unsatisfying. Much like Cartman, he can only be punished so much for doing awful things because he simply matters too much to the show to be away in jail (I’m reminded of Liane Cartman saying that her son was “still grounded for trying to exterminate the Jews last week”). Still, the mere sight of seeing Randy confront himself about the bad things he’s done, and realize how far away he’d gotten from his original dream of just wanting to sell people quality marijuana was cathartic enough. Plus, while Randy no longer has to worry about prison, he still faces the task of making things right with his family, which should play a big role in the final four episodes. “Season Finale” was an enjoyable episode, and while it let Randy off the hook a little too easily, its well-executed twist ending, and the memorable return of Trump/Garrison made it quite a worthwhile affair.
- The “season finale” of the title refers to the final batch of weed that Randy grows and sells before the winter hits. If we figure this is also the last episode of the season to take place at Tegridy Farms, the title likely has a double-meaning, referring to the “Tegridy Farms” theme song/intro that’s been replacing the normal one since the start of the season. My guess is that the regular South Park beginning will be returning next week.
- “You finish cleaning up those pistachio nuts yet?”
- When Randy is about to confess, he mentions that the weed Giuliani gives him is of rather poor quality, and barely even got him high. Implying that the Trump administration would have shitty weed is a quality burn. Who would even know the first thing about it?
- Gotta love Cartman consoling the Whites after Jason’s death: “He was a shitty receiver, but he would have wanted his parents to move on.”