South Park Season 22, Episode 7 recap: Is it time to get cereal?

South Park/Comedy Central. Acquired via Comedy Central Press.
South Park/Comedy Central. Acquired via Comedy Central Press. /

In part two of the Manbearpig story arc, the boys try to stop the demon with some help from Al Gore and Satan. Will the mythical beast destroy the town of South Park?

Last week, Trey Parker and Matt Stone walked back their previous criticism of climate change and threw some jabs at current climate deniers. Manbearpig is rampaging throughout South Park but, much like climate change, some people are still unwilling to admit this and take action.

The episode opens on a pair of newly engaged lovers at Jared, admiring the fiance’s new ring and musing about their future before – of course – they are attacked by Manbearpig in a gory mess. Instantly, we smash cut to a police officer playing Red Dead Redemption 2, while Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman implore him to let them out so they can stop Manbearpig.

Meanwhile, the town of South Park is in smolders as Manbearpig continues his rampage. Most of the townsfolk are gathered inside the community center attending a seminar entitled “When should I start to worry?”

One man asks when he should start to worry about Manbearpig, who he is pretty sure has already eaten two of his children. The lecturer says that there is definitely evidence that the death and destruction around them are due to a Manbearpig, although there is no direct correlation. Mr. Stotch then chimes in that, although he is not sure about the existence of Manbearpig, he is open to the idea that MBP is real and the time to worry “is coming.”

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Satan then interrupts by bursting through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man. As he begins cursing the townspeople, one man asks whether he should start to worry about Satan who he is “pretty sure” has just entered the building. Of course, this whole discussion is another metaphor for climate change soft-deniers, who will admit to believing in climate change, but not being sure and as a result not willing to take action.

Over at Tegridy Farms, Mr. Marsh hides Stan, who has apparently managed to escape his jail cell. Randy tells Stan that his parents have been doing “all they can” to help their child’s legal and mental woes. Of course, Stan then discovers that his father has been getting high and playing Red Dead Redemption 2, although the elder Marsh calls this a “little break.” After the two argue – in classic South Park fashion where the child is clearly the more mature and level-headed one – Randy reveals that Stan’s grandpa has been talking about Manbearpig returning for years.

At the Broflovsky residence, Kyle begins to pray. Al Gore’s “spirit” then arrives to provide some encouragement, but then Gore reveals he is still alive and just playing a prank on Kyle. This “spirit Gore” bit is done a few more times through the episode and honestly didn’t work too well.

Kyle apologizes for not believing Gore way back in 2006 when he first warned about Manbearpig as there was “a lot of different information at the time,” and Kyle points out “even you were wrong about a lot of the things you said at the time.” This, of course, pisses off Gore, who immediately leaves as Kyle implores the former Vice President that he is “cereal.” This moment – as well as another later in the episode – critiques Gore’s grandstanding and unwillingness to admit that his scientific claims have been inaccurate at times.

Back at the bloody crime scene outside a decimated Jared’s, Chief Yates grouses about how another school shooting is keeping him from playing Red Dead Redemption 2, even though five witnesses have said it was a Manbearpig attack and they are nowhere near a school. Yates apparently doesn’t believe the “theories” of Manbearpig, despite the forensic scientist’s data. When he finds out the boys escaped from jail, after being held there as suspected school shooters in the previous episode, he immediately pins this “school shooting” on them.

South Park/Comedy Central. Acquired via Comedy Central Press.
South Park/Comedy Central. Acquired via Comedy Central Press. /

Stan visits his grandfather in the retirement home, to learn more about how grandpa Marsh knew about Manbearpig years ago. But it wasn’t just Stan’s grandfather. The other retirees admit that they also knew that Manbearpig would one day arrive but “we thought we’d be dead by now, we didn’t think we’d have to live to see the consequences” much like Baby Boomers whose pollution in the 1970s laid the foundation for today’s environmental crisis.

When questioned about why they made a deal with the demon Manbearpig, grandpa Marsh admits it was because they didn’t want to give back their cars and boutique ice cream. Although the cars bit is a direct analogy to previous generations who opted for the convenience of driving at the environmental cost, the ice cream is probably not a huge cause of CO2 emissions.

Cartman and Kenny find Kyle after “Al Gore’s ghost” visited the two of them with a plan to stop Manbearpig. The three boys venture into the woods and encounter Satan – who was also told to come there by the “spirit” of Al Gore.

Gore eventually tells the crew that he brought them all together because “I believe in you…and sometimes believing is all we need to be cereal.” The boys realize that Gore doesn’t know how to stop Manbearpig, but has been self-aggrandizing about the issues so he can feel important and be in movies.

Satan reveals to them that MBP has grown far stronger and no mortal can defeat him. Cartman points out that he, Satan, could defeat him and points out all the “nice things” people have done for him lately. “I mean,” Cartman points out, “we’re pretty much doing things your way up here. Satan admits that people on Earth have been doing his work for him, and reluctantly agrees to help the mortals.

Heated after learning the town’s elders made the deal with Manbearpig to keep their cars and ice cream, Stan asks how they could make that deal not thinking about the future. Stan’s grandfather admits he did think about it, but he didn’t even want to have children at the time. This leads to a very graphic description of how Randy Marsh was conceived, to the shock of young Stan.

Grandpa Marsh tells Stan how the town came to form a deal with MBP so that Stan can try and undo it. At the same time, Satan begins to fight Manbearpig in the streets of South Park like Iron Man fighting the Incredible Hulk. MBP gets the upper hand early, beating Satan into the pavement before running off leaving the Prince of Darkness dying in the street.

With his dying breath, Satan tells the kids that they “have to believe” in order to defeat Manbearpig before he rises to heaven as an angel, which Kyle aptly admits is “pretty f*cked up.”

“Should we start to worry?” has graduated from a lecture in a community center to a talk show on public access. The two guests and Al Gore agree that they definitely need to consider starting to worry – or “start to get cereal” as the former Vice President puts it.

The four friends meet at the school where Stan tells the others about the deal between the town elders and Manbearpig. When Cartman questions what they can do when Satan failed to kill MBP, they find that the South Park police force has surrounded the school. But they get help from an unlikely ally in Chief Yates.

He admits that, while playing Red Dead Redemption, he realized that it’s never too late to try to do the right thing. The boys take this chance and face off with Manbearpig’s attorney, who agrees to void the agreement in exchange for the return of assets – Soy Sauce and Red Dead Redemption 2. However, the townsfolk are not willing to go on living with plain rice so the boys are forced to restructure the deal rather than void it.

This means that Manbearpig will be able to return in five years with consequences worse by a thousand-fold, has rights to children in all third world countries, and the town has to not mention the beast until his return. Clearly, this is a jab by Parker and Stone at our current approach to “solving” climate change. It seems that, although the pair has walked back their criticism of climate change science from years past, they remain unconvinced that we will be able – or willing – to take the necessary steps to fully confront this beast.

Ultimately, “Nobody Got Cereal?” was a great cap to this two-episode run. We had some amazing moments like grandpa’s description of sex, seeing Manbearpig wearing a suit at the conference with the boys, and Satan fighting the demon to his death.

Next. The 10 best moments of South Park Season 22 so far. dark

What did you think? Was this two-part episode a nice change of pace for South Park or do you think it was a flop like the past serialization run in Season 20? Do you agree with the creators’ fear that we will just push the burden of solving climate change to the next generation with stopgap solutions like the boys put off stopping Manbearpig for a measly half decade? South Park airs on Comedy Central every Wednesday.

South Park airs on Comedy Central every Wednesday.