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“It’s not mine, I took it from a kindergartener.”

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

If for some reason you’re not a fan of Randy Marsh, this season of South Park is shaping up poorly. This is the second Randy-focused episode we’ve gotten in the past month, suggesting more than ever that the main Stan/Kyle/Cartman/Kenny quartet are falling out of favor. I can’t even remember the last time Kenny has had a significant line, come to think of it. But considering that the two Randy episodes this season have been the standouts, you really can’t blame Trey Parker and Matt Stone for putting so much weight behind him.

Tegridy Farms” is definitely the high point of Season 22 so far. It really plays like classic South Park in all the right ways. It’s vaguely topical without being overly beholden to the current news cycle. It leans heavily on Randy being a gigantic dork while still finding room to allow Cartman and friends to get into some hijinks. And where some episodes suffer from plot threads that never quite come together in the end, the climax really tied the whole thing together this week.

The vaping epidemic proved to be an inspired choice of target this week. The writers got to take their shots at the industry and the way it essentially repackages nicotine in bright, child-friendly new packaging, while also lampooning the hipsters who extol the virtues of vape pens. A win/win, really. I got a real kick out of the playground scene as Ike and his friends revealed why they need vaping so badly. The line “Relax, b****, try some Gummi Bear Surprise,” would be hilarious even if it wasn’t coming out of the mouth of a five-year-old.

Even without Randy, this episode would have worked well enough simply focusing on the Kyle/Cartman/Butters trio. Again, there was a real classic South Park quality to this story, with Kyle butting heads with Cartman and being dragged deeper and deeper into the mess he was trying so hard to avoid. And then there’s Butters, all too eager to be Cartman’s sidekick even when it emans running afoul of one of the town’s worst vaping syndicates. Seeing their struggle progressively spiral out of control was a lot of fun. My only real complaint here is that I wish there had been some sort of payoff to the Ronan Farrow references.

But as is pretty much always the case when Randy takes a starring role, he was really the MVP of this episode. The whole marijuana farm storyline won me over pretty much right from the start of his country music montage. That song was pitch-perfect to the point you could almost imagine it actually being played on the radio.

The Randy storyline only got progressively better from there. As usual, he’s 110% committed to his latest mania, right down to busting out the ridiculous (and wonderfully inconsistent) farmer accent and rattling off half a dozen different strains. The series has its problems with certain characters sounding more and more alike as time passes, but you really have to give Parker credit for managing to fuse his Randy and Old farmer voices and still have the end result be instantly recognizable as the former.

Another unexpected treat this week involved the return of Towelie. Apparently Parker and Stone are intent on dusting off some old favorites this season. But where maybe they weren’t quite successful with Mr. Hankey last week, Towelie was a great addition to “Tegridy Farms.” He didn’t wear out his welcome, but popped up just enough to make the farming storyline that much more bizarre and entertaining. Towelie wound up with what might be the two greatest moments of the episode, between his stoned rambling about chicken suspenders and also adopting the Old Farmer accent in the final scene.

Really, there’s not much to complain about this week, other than maybe a lack of emphasis on Stan and the rest of the Marsh family. I suppose the real question is whether Tegridy Farms is going to be a recurring fixture or not this season. There hasn’t been a huge amount of connective tissue from week to week outside of the school shooting “joke.” But as amusing as this episode proved to be, it might not be a bad idea to have Randy stay in the farming business for a while yet. A man’s got to have his ‘tegridy.

The Verdict

Tegridy Farms” is easily one of the best South Park episodes in several years, in large part because it captures so much of what made the show stand out in its earlier seasons. It features a healthy sprinkling of topical humor but a ridiculous storyline that can hold up over time. It also banks heavily on the appeal of Randy without completely ignoring the younger characters.And this episode lays the groundwork for what could be a fun recurring motif this season, if the writers choose to exploit it.


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