You think you’ve aged a lot during the pandemic? You’ve got nothing on the boys — sorry, make that men — of South Park, who reunite under tragic circumstances in the new Post COVID special, now streaming on Paramount+.
The hourlong event picks up far into the future, decades after the show’s core four have stopped speaking to one another. Stan, now an online whiskey consultant in a relationship with a holographic Alexa, is stunned to receive a phone call from Kyle, who informs his elementary school pal that Kenny McCormick… is dead. Like, for real this time.
News of Kenny’s death affects everyone who knew him, including Jimmy, who’s now a late-night talk show host — as comedians named Jimmy are wont to do. The newly crowned “king of woke comedy” is so distraught by the news, he cancels on his scheduled guest, none other than “First Lady Tom Kardashian.” (Am I the only one disappointed that we didn’t get to meet Tom?)
All of the usual suspects descend upon South Park for Kenny’s funeral, including Cartman, whose apparent conversion to Judaism doesn’t sit well with Kyle. And can you blame him? He’s likely traumatized from all those years of antisemitic bullying at Cartman’s mitten-covered hands. (Speaking of Cartman’s iconic look, turning his hat into a yarmulke was a stroke of genius.)
But the more everyone talks about Kenny, who apparently grew up to become a celebrated millionaire scientist, the more it starts to look like his death was no accident. The gang concludes that Kenny must have been killed while investigating the origin of the coronavirus, a mystery which deepens when Stan discovers that his research leads back to Tegridy Farms.
Kenny’s on-record cause of death is a new strain of the coronavirus called COVID Delta+ Rewards variant, and since one citizen in South Park is revealed to be unvaccinated (way to go, Clyde!), everyone is forced to quarantine within the town limits. There’s a pretty amazing moment where Clyde explains that he doesn’t want to get vaccinated because he’s allergic to shellfish, so if someone who makes the vaccines happened to have recently eaten shellfish, it would be bad. “It’s a general sense of shellfish-ness,” he says. (Get it?)
Stan confronts Randy at the Shady Acres Retirement Community, but his dad isn’t exactly thrilled to see him, as he blames Stan for both Sharon and Shelly’s death. Apparently Stan’s parents wanted a divorce after the pandemic, and because the farm was a major source of their conflict, Stan decided to burn it down… unaware that Shelly was in the barn. As for Sharon, she couldn’t handle her daughter’s death, so she shot herself.
Randy later comes clean to Stan about the origins of the coronavirus — complete with his back-alley pangolin sex, which I had finally purged from my brain — but he attempts to spin it into being China’s fault, all part of their plan to rob America of its tegridy. (“Space Jam 2 came out, and we all just kind of… gave up. We lost our tegridy, and it was all by design. They needed us to lose it.”)
Stan meets up with everyone else at the hospital, where they deduce that Kenny has hidden a flash drive with vital information up his butt, which they reluctantly retrieve. A video on the flash drive reveals that not only was Kenny attempting to travel back in time to prevent the pandemic from happening, but he also blames the collapse of society on his “three d–khead friends, Stan, Kyle and Cartman.” He claims they “ruined everything when they let COVID break up their friendship and become argumentative, combative, pessimistic a–holes.”
“Let’s face it, guys, we killed Kenny,” they deduce after reflecting on how they lost their sense of fun and sense of humor. The pandemic was a test, and they failed.
The episode ends with a return to South Park Mental Asylum Plus, where Kenny’s right-hand man “Victor Chaws” is being held. But it isn’t until we see the name tag on his door that we realize it isn’t Victor “Chaws.” It’s Victor Chaos. (You know, I was wondering where Butters has been!)
Your thoughts on this time-bending South Park special — the first of many? Grade it below, then drop a comment with your full review.