South Park premiered over 24 years ago, spanning 23 seasons of TV shows and specials. Since COVID brought many productions to a halt, the South Park team hasn't released any new episodes, rather focusing on hour-long specials. The first two, The Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special were decent but felt a bit cobbled together. With their newest special, South Park: Post COVID, they are back and as good as ever.
We kick things off 40 years in the future. The boys have all grown and we open with an adult Stan Marsh who is an online whiskey consultant and no longer living in South Park. While the world is finally ready to move beyond COVID, Stan gets a call from old friend Kyle Broflovski telling him that Kenny McCormick has died.
It turns out Kenny would grow into a very successful scientist researching the origins of COVID. Kenny left behind a message. In the event of his death, his closest friends would know where he hid his missing data. Kyle is tasked with getting the band back together in South Park, ala Mike Hamlin in IT.
The Return of the Kids (As Adults)
When they gather back in South Park for the funeral, we get to meet the grown-up versions of the cast. We meet Eric Cartman, seemingly reformed and now a Rabbi. It is announced that Kenny's cause of death was a new COVID variant and the town is under lockdown because someone there isn't vaccinated. From here, our story splits as we follow Stan to visit his father Randy while the rest of the gang tries to unravel the mystery of Kenny's research.
Through Stan and Randy, we learn what befell the Marsh family and their weed farm Tedgridy Farms. After a nursing home breakout, they go to the burned-down farm and Randy reveals some truths about COVID to Stan. Kyle and co. continue to dig. They discover that Kenny did have one colleague who was still alive, a Dr. Victor Chouse who is at the local mental hospital. Because one of them is not vaccinated, they can't visit to learn more.
Bringing Things Back Together
Stan rejoins the crew and they learn that Kenny wasn't doing research into a cure for COVID at all. It was research into time travel to go back and stop it from happening. Kenny's reason? Because the pandemic drove their friendship apart and led to the whole world going belly up. The crew commits themselves to finish Kenny's research but Cartman secretly flees to his family. He likes his life as a Rabbi and doesn't want to see it change.
The special ends with a closing shot on South Park Mental Asylum (Plus). We see a doctor/orderly delivering a meal tray to our main man Victor. The spelling of his name is "Chaos." Professor Chaos is the evil alter ego of Leopold 'Butters' Stotch, and sets up for a great sequel and possible trilogy.
Why I Liked It
This special felt like a return to form on over-the-top South Park storylines that tie together. The Pandemic Special and South ParQ Vaccination Special felt like COVID was the theme and South Park characters were fit in around it. Post COVID felt like the opposite, a South Park story with COVID worked in, like the glory days. This special also paid off on some great running gags and still worked in the storylines from the last two specials and season 23. Grown-up Cartman was perfect, and as a long-time fan, you kept waiting for him to break and reveal it was all to mess with Kyle.
The ending with Chaos was my favorite, by far. The Professor Chaos stories have always been S-Tier on South Park, and this one is setting up well to join the ranks. The ending gave me serious Imaginationland vibes, and that's about the highest praise I can give a South Park episode/story.
Part 2, South Park: Post COVID: The Return of COVID, releases on December 16, 2021, so we won't have to wait long for the next chapter in the story. Stay tuned to On Tap Sports Net's pop culture section for the latest in the world of movies, TV, and music!