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Recap / South Park S18E5 The Magic Bush

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A thoroughly bored Cartman shows up at the Stotch house in search of entertainment; the video Butters and Stephen took of a nest of bird eggs fails to pique his interest until Butters mentions that they shot the footage with a drone. Excited at the prospect of spying on their neighbours, Cartman "borrows" the drone and that evening, he, Butters, and Kenny fly it around their friends' houses. They are particularly intrigued when they see Craig's mother, Laura, undressing with the curtains open - especially when they see how hairy she is. However, Craig's dad, Thomas, sees the drone, causing the boys to panic. Moments later, an enraged Thomas shows up at the Stotch house to demand an explanation, as Stephen is the only person he knows with a drone. Stephen insists that the drone has been in his garage all evening; sure enough, it's exactly where he left it. Thomas is not convinced, while Stephen is left wondering if the drone has a mind of its own (Butters being very obviously out of breath when Stephen asks if he knows anything fails to tip him off).

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The next day, to Kenny's frustration, Cartman immediately tells Stan and Kyle that "someone" took a video of Laura and her "bush ... like a yeti". He fumbles an explanation that he downloaded the video onto his phone from the Internet, and to maintain the lie, he uploads the video to YouTube, and soon half the school has seen it, enraging Butters, who confronts Cartman over the punishment he will face if Stephen finds out he flew the drone without permission - a conversation Kyle overhears, which leads Cartman to make a music video using the footage and upload it so that he can claim that was the video they were arguing over, which in turn simply angers Butters further.

The adults of South Park (all of whom have very obviously watched the video yet deny having done so) decide to protect their privacy by forming a neighbourhood watch using their own drones, and soon the air over South Park is filled with privately owned drones. When the drones continue to spy on Laura, Thomas asks the police to do something, and soon they are deploying their own drones, one of which shoots down Randy's drone as he uses it to spy on his co-worker, Nelson, having sex with his girlfriend. When the other adults hold a drone candlelight vigil, a standoff with the police drones turns violent, and soon a townwide, purely drone-controlled riot breaks out, leading to the deployment of National Guard drones.

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All the while, Stephen, never for a moment suspecting that Butters flew the drone without his permission, becomes convinced that his drone is autonomous, and decides to destroy it. But he never gets the chance, as Cartman comes up with an idea to end the drone wars over South Park, and he, Butters, and Kenny tie a blowup doll with a huge pubic wig to Stephen's drone and fly it past the crowd of civilian, police, and National Guard drones. The fascinated drones follow the doll en masse over Stark's Pond and into the distance. A celebratory dinner is held at the community centre, with Laura as the guest of honour for sacrificing herself to end the standoff (the adults being unaware that it was a blowup doll with a pubic wig). Her obvious discomfort dampens Butters' spirits, but when Cartman starts forming yet another plan to solve the problem, Butters decides enough is enough and accepts things as they are.

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"The Magic Bush" contains the following examples:

  • Acting Unnatural: When Stephen tries to return his drone and tells the clerk at the hobby shop that it has been flying itself, as he found the battery mysteriously drained to half life and the SD card erased, Butters starts holding his arms very stiffly at his sides and looking back and forth. He uses the same body language when Stephen tells Randy about his drone's odd behaviour. Fortunately for Butters, Stephen doesn't notice his son's failed attempts to look innocent.
  • Blatant Lies: The adults of South Park - including the kids' parents and the South Park Police - consistently deny having watched the video of Laura's bush, but their thorough knowledge of its contents makes it obvious that every single one of them has seen it, and they're too embarrassed to admit it.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: When Stan and Kyle arrive at the bus stop the morning after Cartman, Butters, and Kenny's drone escapades, Cartman only lasts a few seconds before blurting out that someone used a drone to shoot video of Craig's mom and upload it to the Internet.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Just to be sure we understand the parallels between the standoff between the police drones and the civilian drones and the protests that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Mike Brown in August 2014, the news report about the shooting down of Randy's drone points out that a police drone shot down an unarmed black drone.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: The morning after shooting the video of Laura, Cartman can't resist showing it to Stan (Kyle refuses to look since it was shot without Laura's permission), but when Stan asks how he got the video, he claims to have downloaded it from the Internet. To maintain this lie, he uploads the video to YouTube. A furious Butters confronts him over uploading the video, a conversation Kyle overhears. Since Kyle only knows that Cartman uploaded a video of Laura's bush, he creates and uploads a music video using the footage and starring himself and Butters so that he can pretend that was the video he and Butters were arguing over. Though Kyle remains suspicious, none of the South Park adults - not even Stephen - suspect a thing.
  • Freudian Slip: The adults of South Park claim not to have seen the video of Laura's bush, but the fact that Randy says they could be "up to our navels in bush" instead of "up to our necks in trouble" regarding the drone plague makes it obvious that he's seen it.
  • Funny Background Event: Also a Meaningful Background Event - the day the video gets uploaded online, while the other students are teasing Craig about it at school, an infuriated Butters can be seen coming in from offscreen, sprinting across the hallway and tackling Cartman into the bathroom before the story cuts to their conversation.
  • Idiot Ball: Butters' father blindly believes Randy's and Butters' lies about not taking the video even though all evidence stacks to them lying about it.
  • Karma Houdini: Butters, Kenny, and Cartman never receive karma for posting a nude video of Craig's mom.
  • Know When To Fold Them: At the end, when Cartman claims everything worked out, Butters notes that Craig's mom isn't very happy. Cartman then starts coming up with a plan to fix this, but Butters, knowing that it'll just lead to more trouble, tells Cartman that it's fine and he doesn't need any more help.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Butters lies, saying he didn't uses his dad's drone and record Craig's nude mom; instead of grounding him (which he would have done even if Butters hadn't been a part of recording Craig's mom), he completely believes Butters' story.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: This episode is a combination of the nude celebrity pics posted in late 2014 and later on the Mike Brown case.
  • Seriously Scruffy: As Stephen becomes more paranoid over the thought that his drone is flying itself, his clothes become more unkempt and he stops shaving, ending up with a full beard (with visible grey patches) by the episode's climax.

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