jason stives goes native…
It’s been a long time since South Park has had a consistent season episode wise and Season 16 has, much like most seasons in the past seven or eight years, had its clunkers. In each season’s 14 episode span I contend that you will get eight solid outings, four so so’s, and two clunkers, which for a show that has been on for 15 years is pretty consistent. Up to this point this season was afforded already one of its clunkers in the form of the mid-season finale “Cartman Finds Love” and with tonight’s outing “Going Native,” we might have found the second clunker. Up to this point the second half of this season has been solid at best and if there is one thing to be said it hasn’t been short of original ideas. The problem with reviewing most shows each week is you only have the first impression to work off of and while “Going Native” had some funny moments the main plot of Butters going back to his roots fell flat within minutes.
My hope lied mainly in this being a Butters centric episode and those tend to always be really solid episodes. If you take out the main four, Butters has always run hand in hand with Randy Marsh as being the best side character of the show and one could argue Butters is the “Fifth Beatle” of the South Park gang. The episode started out strong with Butters off camera being accused of bullying and beating up Scott Malkinson (you know, the lisp kid with diabetes?). This isn’t exactly the first instance of bullying in Butter’s life because if you go back to his earliest appearances he was kind of a dick to new kids in school. His recent behavior is attributed by his family as Butters being out of touch with his native land that we find out is Hawaii.
To cure his anger, his parents send him to Hawaii in hopes that he will be one with his ancestors and their rituals. Because the airline won’t let him on the flight (they think he is intoxicated) Kenny travels with him to Hawaii where he is met by fellow natives, harping on their mixed drinks and Mahalo Rewards cards. Very quickly the storyline sinks and for awhile I thought that maybe they were making fun of The Descendants but that seemed to not be the case. I also wasn’t too crazy about the running gag of Butters attributing some of his anger to Ben Affleck doing well for no reason.
This would’ve been more relevant seven years ago when Affleck was shitting bricks of crappy movies but then again Butter’s lack of knowledge about Ben’s current relationship makes more sense for the joke. Getting back to the task at hand, the native storyline runs on such little steam and isn’t broad enough of an idea to overtake the story. Yes, I totally believe there are so called “natives” who are much like the ones in this week’s episode but it reminded me more or less of a similar idea in the Thanksgiving episode last year, that of the 1 quarter native American. There is potential here but the well runs dry really quick.
There are some very amusing moments like Butters sinking a cruise ship with a golf ball and Kenny’s heartfelt letters home to the gang where he signs them always as ‘Kenneth.’ You also have to give a hand to Butters when he rather candidly points out the misfortunes of all his friends especially about how Cartman always puts a spin on anything he says. The spirit of Elvis was entertaining but really could only go so far but it sustains water for a little longer than the bulk of the main storyline. At best it was something different and cutting Butters and Kenny off from the rest of the gang was a good way to do so but the episode as a whole wasn’t that memorable. In comparison, “Raising the Bar” had a lot more going for it and while still not one of my personal favorites it elicited a lot more laughs than “Going Native” did. This wasn’t a bad episode of South Park in the way that say “Funnybot” was a really bad episode but then again it was a far more original episode of South Park than the bulk of what is considered primetime animated shows nowadays…except for maybe Bob’s Burgers…and Archer…you know what, go John Benjamin!
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Disappointing)
All Images Credit: Comedy Central