South Park has brought back a character who was last seen almost 11 years ago, in season 24, episode 2, titled, “South ParQ Vaccination Special.” The new season, which premiered in September of 2020, is focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“South ParQ Vaccination Special”, which aired last week, revolves around the town’s reaction to the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine while simultaneously poking fun at many targets. The second story brought some much-needed comic relief to the episode, from the rise in divorce rates due to the pandemic to the QAnon conspiracy theories.
South Park Season 23 came to an end in December 2019, and the next season got delayed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The first installment in the current season did a good job of highlighting the psychological toll of the ongoing worldwide health crisis on the public’s mental health. However, it has not been confirmed whether these two episodes constitute the season’s opening episodes or are standalone.
“The Vaccination Special” keeps in line with the previous episodes but also ventures into creative territory. Mr. Garrison is transferred by supposedly mystical powers that reveal themselves through the manipulation of Mr. White via modern computer animation tools.
Garrison, who identifies the powers as the “Hollywood Elite,” begs them to make everyone like him again. The powers grant his request and bring back his old favorite, Mr. Hat.
Mr. Hat, who used to appear regularly on the show, was replaced in 2002’s season 6 by Mr. Slave. His last appearance was in the banned South Park episode 200, which came out in 2010.
Ever since, Mr. Garrison has had to traverse through many hardships, including acknowledging his homosexuality, becoming transgender, going through a sex-change operation, and standing in for President Trump, amongst many others. Fans have theorized that Mr. Garrison’s abandonment of Mr. Hat is symbolic of the show’s creators shifting from the early surrealism of the show to more satirical grounds.
However, with Mr. Hat’s return, it seems the show has taken a step backward to revisit its surreal roots. It’s a welcome initiative and could also be a hint towards upcoming changes in the show. But whether those changes will incorporate the show’s “classic” format is yet to be seen.
About South Park
South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for Comedy Central. South Park has received many accolades including five Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. It is currently in its 24th season.
Intended for mature audiences, the show has become infamous for its crude language and dark, surreal humor that lampoons a wide range of topics. The story revolves around four boys—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick—and their bizarre adventures in and around the eponymous Colorado town.