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Recap / South Park S 16 E 12 A Nightmare on Face Time

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As Sharon, Shelly, and Stan carve jack-o'-lanterns, Randy arrives with champagne and gifts, announcing that they're about to be rich: he's just bought South Park's Blockbuster Video store for $10,000. Sharon and the kids are far less excited, knowing that the Internet and streaming services like Netflix have decimated brick-and-mortar video rental stores. Sure enough, days pass and no customers show up; locals treat the Blockbuster as if it were a creepy old house, and Randy soon begins hallucinating ghost customers. On Halloween, Stan dresses up as Captain America to go trick-or-treating with Kyle (as The Mighty Thor), Cartman (as The Incredible Hulk), and Kenny (as Iron Man), but Randy orders him to work in anticipation (by Randy only) of a rush of customers renting scary movies.

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Kyle has an idea, though, and he mounts his iPad on a skateboard with a candy pail and pulls it with a piece of rope, with Stan participating in trick-or-treating via FaceTime. However, later in the evening, they see a robbery in progress at the Kum & Go convenience store, and, getting into their roles as The Avengers, storm the store - but quickly flee when they find there are four robbers and the store clerk has been shot dead. The crooks "capture" Stan by grabbing Kyle's iPad, interrogate him regarding the whereabouts of the others, then throw the iPad into a ditch and go after the remaining witnesses. Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny go to the police to report the robbery and Stan's "abduction", but Stan is found by a couple returning from a Halloween party, and the boys are re-united in his hospital room. Sgt. Yates identifies the crooks as the Redbox killers, thieves who break into Redbox machines to steal the money (unaware that online rentals and streaming are making those obsolete as well), and since they will be looking for the other boys at the Monster Mash at the community centre, Stan is sent undercover as "Gangnamstein", a Frankenstein's monster dressed as PSY, with the body controlled by Officer Peterson.

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All the while, Blockbuster remains deserted, and Randy's Sanity Slippage gets ever worse; in a parody of The Shining, he hallucinates a video store clerk who tells him that Sharon and Stan are holding back his business, and he needs to kill them. He cuts off the landline, hides Shelly's cell phone and the car keys, and ultimately grabs Stan's iPad just as Stan spots the Redbox killers at the Monster Mash and tries to warn the other partygoers. The Randy-controlled "Gangnamstein" proceeds to go on a rampage, smashing into houses where people are streaming movies instead of renting DVDs, until finally he is gunned down by the police. The Redbox killers are arrested, but Stan, who has regained control of his iPad, "dies" as Kyle's iPad runs out of battery power; he tells his fellow Avengers to lift the Monster Mash's costume party trophy for him.

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Randy finally stumbles into the Blockbuster car park, unaware that Shelly has doused the shelves with gasoline and set them alight. The next morning, the store has burned down and Randy is frozen stiff but still alive; Sharon tells him that they will get some of the $10,000 back in the insurance payout, and promises to bring Randy some food from McDonald's. Stan starts streaming a movie on his iPad and puts it in Randy's hands before leaving with Sharon and Shelly.


"A Nightmare on Face Time" contains examples of:

  • Brick Joke: Randy walks by Shelley pouring gasoline all over the store and later, the Blockbuster is burnt down.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Cartman is mistaken for Honey Boo-Boo, a reference to "Raising the Bar", and also for Bruce Vilanch, a reference to "The Coon" and "Coon vs. Coon and Friends."
    • At one point, you can see a video cover for a film called The Moose Who Wouln't Die with a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker in a moose suit. This is a reference to "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs".
  • Halloween Episode: The fifth one in the series after "Pinkeye", "Spookyfish", "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" and "Hell on Earth 2006".
  • Harmless Freezing: Randy ends the episode the same way Jack Torrance ends The Shining, except in his case the freezing is non-fatal, and he simply mutters his McDonald's order to Sharon before she leaves with the kids.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Everyone in this episode who treated the iPad Stan was face timing on as if he were really there, but special regards to the cop who played the body for Stan's costume at the party who, once a crazed Randy took over, went on a destructive rampage breaking into houses and terrorising the town as if there wasn't an entirely separate person in the costume apart from the iPad. One cop even lampshades this, but another shushes him in front of the sergeant.
    • Randy is holding it indefinitely when he believes customers will come to Blockbuster, refusing to accept that the internet has killed brick-and-mortar video rental stores.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The robbers "torture" Stan (who is on an iPad screen) by scratching the screen he's on.
  • Just for Pun: The description of The Monster Mash dance uses the lyrics from The Monster Mash song.
  • Kubrick Stare: Randy gives off a couple of these as his grip on reality gets ever looser. He gives a particularly homicidal glare that would have done Kubrick proud as Ted plays on the in-store televisions.
  • Sanity Slippage: Randy gradually loses his mind as more time passes and still no-one comes to his branch of Blockbuster.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Upon finding a bunch of robbers in the store and the clerk dead, Kenny advocates this.
  • Shout-Out
    • The boys go trick-or-treating as The Avengers, with Stan as Captain America, Kyle as The Mighty Thor, Kenny as Iron Man, and Cartman as The Incredible Hulk.
      • When the robbers ask the names of his friends, Stan lies and says they're Bruce, Tony, and Curt. The first two are Hulk and Iron Man's civilian identities, while the third is a reference to Chris Hemsworth's character in The Cabin in the Woods.
    • People at the Halloween dance are dressed as Finn, Merida, SpongeBob SquarePants, Batman, a Smurf, an angry bird, and many copies of the Gangnam Style Guy, PSY.
    • Randy's Sanity Slippage is an extended homage to The Shining, with shots referencing Jack being served by a phantom bartender (in this case, a phantom video store clerk), giving a Kubrick Stare as he becomes more insane, staggering around the hedge maze in the driving snow (in this case, staggering around the shelves of DVDs), and ending up frozen the next morning (though unlike Jack, Randy survives his freezing).
    • Stan tells Kenny to "Stay gold."
  • Take That!
    • This episode satirizes the decrease of movie rental stores in favor of rental services like Netflix and the Internet, which has legal and illegal means to get the shows and movies people want to see.
    • Randy gives a sinister stare to a TV screen showing the movie Ted, continuing Trey and Matt’s crusade against Seth MacFarlane.
  • The Unintelligible: Averted for once, Kenny has understandable, albeit distorted, lines while in costume.
  • Waxing Lyrical: After Stan urges the Monster Mash costume party be shut down, the police lift lyrics from the actual song.
    Yates: How many people at the Monster Mash?
    Officer 1: Most of the town, sir. It's a graveyard smash.
    Officer 2: Look, whatever we do, we'd better hurry. It gets on in a flash.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Randy's story is a reference to The Shining.

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