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Recap / South Park S 14 E 7 Crippled Summer

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An Intervention parody collides with a Looney Tunes homage in an episode that brings back several recurring characters.

Towelie, the sentient towel, has spiralled ever further into drug addiction since his last speaking appearance in "A Million Little Fibers". As Intervention-style intertitles explain, he has gone from marijuana to crystal meth to cocaine to heroin. Stan, Kyle, and Butters appear in "talking heads" segments lamenting their attempts to help him sober up, including getting him a job at Lake Tardicaca, a summer camp for the handicapped. This summer's campers include Jimmy and Timmy, as well as Nathan (last seen selling steroids in "Up the Down Steroid") and his none-too-bright lackey, Mimsy. Nathan is sick of losing to Jimmy in the camp's annual competitions, and is plotting to hand out a very permanent defeat.

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Jimmy, Timmy, and a variety of Looney Tunes lookalikes/soundalikes are put on the Blue Team, while Nathan, Mimsy, and an assortment of other campers are put on the Red Team. Nathan starts by trying to sabotage the canoe race by having Mimsy put a black mamba snake in the Blue Team's canoe, but Mimsy misunderstands his instructions and puts the snake in the Red Team's canoe, causing them to abandon ship mid-race. Next, Nathan tells Mimsy to switch the Blue Team's map for the scavenger hunt with one that will lead them to the Tardicaca tribe's reservation, where the fiercely territorial natives will attack them, but Mimsy misunderstands his instructions again and the Red Team ends up blundering onto the reservation and being attacked. Nathan tries again during the surfing competition by telling Mimsy to swim out and blow a whistle to attract a Tardicaca shark, but Mimsy misunderstands his instructions yet again and waits until he returns to shore to blow the whistle, causing the shark to jump onto Nathan and start humping him.

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Nathan's final ploy involves rigging Jimmy's ukulele with C4 so that when he plays a solo during his team's talent show performance of "Tardicaca Hula Gal", it will explode when he hits a high B-flat. However, Jimmy keeps getting the solo wrong and finally decides to skip it; enraged, Nathan grabs the ukulele and plays the solo himself, causing the ukulele to explode - and when he lands, he is promptly set upon by the snake, the Tardicaca natives, and the shark. Jimmy, still unaware of Nathan's plots against him, gives him his "King of Cripple Camp" crown in a gesture of sportsmanship as he is loaded into an ambulance, but this does nothing to dull Nathan's hatred of him.

As for Towelie, he is fired from his job after being found giving blowjobs for drug money, reducing him to living out of his car and huffing computer duster to get high. Butters finally guides him to an intervention headed by Jeff Van Vonderen and attended by Stan, Kyle, Kenny, Clyde, and Cartman, all of whom (Kenny and Clyde off-screen) read prepared speeches about how much they care about him and want him to get treatment - all except for Cartman, who instead spends several hours on an anti-Semitic rant and never even mentions Towelie, to Kyle's disgust. Towelie refuses to get help until Butters reveals that he has brought along Washcloth, his young son. A broken Towelie finally agrees to seek treatment, and a final intertitle reveals that he has been clean and sober since 26 April 2010 (two days before this episode's original air date).

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Tropes used in this episode:

  • Addled Addict: Towelie has deteriorated severely by the time he is fired from Lake Tardicaca; he is burned and frayed at the edges, his eyes are bloodshot, and Butters mentions that even his texture has gone from soft and fluffy to coarse and sandpaper-like.
  • Art Shift: For Jimmy's surfing display, the background shifts to live-action footage of an ocean wave with Jimmy and his surfboard superimposed over it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When the kids gather for Towelie's intervention, they all read prepared speeches about how much they love him and want him to get treated for his hard drug addictions... all except Cartman, who instead reads an anti-Semitic screed that goes on for several hours and never mentions Towelie once.
  • The Comically Serious: The Intervention-style intertitles show up in both subplots, offering completely straight-faced commentary on the absurd goings-on at Lake Tardicaca.
  • Drugs Are Bad: It wouldn't be an Intervention parody without copious references to the evils of drug use, as Towelie's worsening addictions cause him to lose his job, his family, and his self-respect.
  • Dumb Muscle: Mimsy, Nathan's lackey, is bigger and stronger than his "boss", and so does most of the heavy lifting for their schemes. Unfortunately for Nathan, Mimsy is also not very bright, and keeps fouling up his instructions so that Nathan is the one who gets caught in the traps instead.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Nathan's final scheme against Jimmy is to booby trap the ukulele he is playing in the Blue Team's performance of "Tardicaca Hula Gal" so that it blows up when he plays a high B-flat during the instrumental break. However, Jimmy keeps messing up the solo and finally decides to skip it. An enraged Nathan grabs the ukulele and plays the solo himself... causing the instrument to detonate.
  • Humiliation Conga: As if being blown up by his own booby-trapped ukulele isn't bad enough, as soon as he lands from the explosion, Nathan is attacked by the black mamba snake, the Tardicaca Indians, and the shark in very quick succession.
  • Junkie Parent: Towelie's drug problems have caused him to become estranged from the mother of his young child, Washcloth, and at one point he is seen on the phone demanding to talk to his son, insisting that he hasn't been high since Wednesday (and then being told it is Wednesday). Butters bringing Washcloth to the intervention is what finally causes Towelie to agree to treatment.
  • Parody: Towelie's subplot spoofs Intervention, complete with white-on-black intertitles, the premise that he thinks he has agreed to be in a documentary about addiction, and an appearance by Jeff Van Vonderen at the intervention. The white-on-black intertitles spill over into the Lake Tardicaca subplot.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Nathan's schemes against Jimmy keep backfiring at least partly because of carelessly worded instructions to his Literal-Minded lackey, Mimsy.
    • To sabotage the canoe race, he plans to put a black mamba snake in the Blue Team's canoe. Unfortunately, because he only tells Mimsy to put the snake "in the canoe", Mimsy puts it in his own team's canoe, causing them to abandon ship in terror.
    • He then tries to sabotage the scavenger hunt by swapping the Blue Team's map with a map that will lead them to the Tardicaca Indian reservation, which will get him attacked by the very territorial residents. However, his instructions to Mimsy are "Switch the map! Switch the map!", so he switches the maps... and then switches them back so that the Red Team are the ones who blunder onto the reservation.
    • Next, Nathan tries to sabotage the surfing competition with a Tardicaca shark whistle, and he tells Mimsy to swim out to where Jimmy is surfing and blow the whistle. So Mimsy swims out into the lake... and then back to shore before blowing the whistle, causing a shark to jump out of the water onto Nathan and start humping him.
  • Shout-Out: The episode is one long Looney Tunes homage, so many of the characters and gags pay tribute to Warner Bros. cartoons.
    • The dynamic between Nathan and Mimsy references the dynamic between diminutive gangster Rocky and his dim-witted muscle man Mugsy, complete with Mimsy calling Nathan "boss" and Nathan repeatedly belting Mimsy while telling him to shut up.
    • The Blue Team members include lookalikes and soundalikes of Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Droopy Dog (evidently on loan from MGM), Beaky Buzzard, Sylvester the Cat, and Pete Puma.
    • Nathan's plan to booby trap Jimmy's ukulele references "the xylophone gag", a recurring joke from at least four Looney Tunes cartoons in which an instrument is booby trapped so that a performance of "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms" will cause the performer to explode when they play the final note of the opening line. However, the intended target keeps getting the melody wrong, until eventually the character who set the trap shoves them aside and plays it properly - KA-BOOM!note 
  • Staging an Intervention: Towelie's subplot is a spoof of Intervention, and so it culminates with Butters, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and Clyde gathering in a room to plead with him to seek treatment. (All except Cartman, who instead uses his camera time to spend several hours ranting about how Jews are evil shapeshifters and must be exterminated.)
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Although the Towelie and Jimmy subplots are initially both set at Lake Tardicaca, they diverge near the end of the first act as Towelie is fired for letting his addictions get so out of control that he gives blowjobs for drug money on camp property. The rest of the episode cuts back and forth between Towelie's downward spiral and intervention on one side, and Nathan's failed plots on Jimmy's life on the other.
  • Unknown Rival: Nathan positively seethes with hatred for Jimmy after losing the camp competitions to him for three consecutive years, and spends their entire subplot trying to kill him. Judging from Jimmy's final conversation with Nathan - handing him his "King of Cripple Camp" crown and saying that as far as he's concerned, Nathan is the true champion - he is completely unaware of Nathan's grudge against him.
  • Verbal Tic: Mimsy shares with his inspiration, Looney Tunes character Mugsy, a tendency to open almost every sentence he speaks with "Dahhh...", conveying that he is not the brightest candle in the chandelier.

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