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Recap / South Park S 21 E 2 Put It Down

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We'll put it down...
Original air date: 9/20/2017

Tweek is panicking over the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea. Craig suggests he send a gift of cupcakes to Kim Jong-un instead of uselessly fretting. The gesture actually seems to charm the dictator... until President Garrison starts goading North Korea over Twitter with threats and insults that explicitly mention Tweek. He reacts as you'd expect, and Craig's attempts to calm him down only upset him further.

Meanwhile, Cartman wants attention after his threats of suicide are met with laughter, but the PC Principal refuses to allow him a Suicide Prevention shindig when it's already Distracted Driving Awareness week. Indeed, drivers are already being distracted by Garrison's tweets, to horrific results. When Cartman tries to preempt a memorial service for the slain students, Heidi tells him not to interrupt the others' grief. This inspires Craig, who is finally able to help Tweek work through his panic and plan a course of action.


They stage a motivational number about the dangers of using one's phone while behind... the desk of the Oval Office. At the end, our troubled Official Couple smile and hold hands — only to be cut off by Cartman dramatically announcing that he's decided not to commit suicide after all.

This episode contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Tweek and Craig are the subject of the A-Plot.
  • An Aesop: When a person you care about is suffering emotionally, trying to reason or distract them from their problems isn't always the right way to go about it. All you need to do is be there for them while they process their grief.
  • Attention Whore:
    • Cartman tries to get as much attention as he can for his suicide awareness act, even trying to steal focus from the students trying to raise awareness for the very real issue of distracted driving.
    • Advertisement:
    • President Garrison, apparently envious that Tweek got attention for his cupcakes, starts name-dropping him in incendiary tweets aimed at Kim Jong-un.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The first verse of Tweek and Craig's song appears to be about distracted driving. Then the chorus kicks in and reveals it's actually about tweeting while you're President.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • Several of Garrison's tweets exceeds the 140-character limit on Twitter posts (though the limit was changed later).
    • It's physically impossible to run over people with bumper cars.
  • Bookends: The episode begins and ends with Tweek playing a song on the piano in the school auditorium. While the first is a panicked mess about North Korea, the second is an uplifting song about not using your phone while being President of the United States.
  • Brick Joke: When Cartman tells PC Principal he wants to stage a grandiose performance to raise suicide awareness, one of the things he says he needs is a group of singers in robes. Later on during the "Put It Down" number, the student chorus members are all wearing them.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Garrison constantly taunts North Korea with petty and horrifically racist insults, despite knowing what kind of weaponry they have.
  • Call-and-Response Song: Parodied with Cartman's attention-seeking anti-suicide song "Eric, We Don't Want You to Die". He complains about his life and declares his intent to commit suicide. He thinks everyone will be begging him not to do it, so the chorus consists of pre-recorded kids' voices saying "Eric, we don't want you to die! / Eric, give life a try! / Eric, oh God no, Eric!" In practice, nobody sings along and just stares at him blankly.
  • Character Development: While PC Principal used to bend over backwards in order to make Cartman feel better, here he's shown to be somewhat fed up with his complaints and only offers a few reasonable resources instead of the extravagant props Cartman wants for his show.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Mr. Garrison's name is never actually said during the episode. Everyone just refers to him as "the President".
  • Evil Versus Evil: President Garrison (South Park's equivalent of Donald Trump) vs. Kim Jong-un.
  • Ferris Wheel Date Moment: Craig tries to do this when Tweek says his favorite ride is the Ferris Wheel, but Tweek is too distracted to enjoy it.
  • Foil: Cartman and Heidi serve as this to Tweek and Craig. Cartman only cares about himself and uses suicide threats to keep from losing his (unhealthy) relationship with Heidi, while Craig is genuinely trying to help Tweek overcome his panic and is unsuccessful only because he's not sure how to do it (until his "Eureka!" Moment).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you pause at the right time, you can read the articles Tweek scrolls past until he reaches the cupcake response.
  • Gilligan Cut: Heidi shows Stan a voicemail where Cartman threatened to kill himself and asks him not to tell anyone. The next scene, Stan is playing the message for Kyle, Kenny, Butters, Token, and Jimmy in the bathroom, to much laughter.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • While Mr. Garrison never appears in person nor has any lines, it's his tweets that drive the whole plot of this episode. Not only did his continued tweets ruined Tweek's attempt to make peace with Kim Jong-un, but actually lead the dictator to test lunch his missiles RIGHT OVER TWEEK'S HOUSE!
    • The Member Berries serve as this to an extent. While they haven't appeared in this episode at all, they are still corrupting Garrison into making those racial and derogatory tweets.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Garrison apparently learned nothing from the previous season and remains the only member of Season 20's Big Bad Ensemble to still be an active threat.
  • Hidden Depths: Tweek is shown to be a good piano player when he's not freaking out. He's also at least decent at baking.
  • Hope Spot: North Korea liked Tweek's cupcakes to the point of making their own, but the situation isn't defused for long thanks to Garrison.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Cartman claims that Heidi threatened to kill herself unless they got back together, acting like she should be ashamed for resorting to such dirty tricks. But when it's revealed that he was the one to make that threat, he immediately demands sympathy.
    • When Cartman hears that actual suicidal youngsters have come forward because of his campaign, he is irate that they're "trying to get attention", even though that's exactly what he is doing.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Cartman's voicemail to Heidi consists of him bawling at her and making empty threats that he's going to kill himself unless she takes him back. Kyle even remarks that Cartman sounds like a dying pig.
  • Irony: When Craig finally has enough of Tweek's paranoia, he tells him "Well, I'm sorry that I'm actually in control of my goddamned emotions, ya baby!" He says this while yelling.
  • It's All About Me: Cartman openly admits that he wants a Suicide Awareness event to raise awareness about his suicidal threats (he accuses other suicidal students of trying to steal his spotlight). He also gets back together with Heidi due to his crippling need for attention.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lola is usually as an Alpha Bitch with the limited screen time she gets, but here she's one of the leading volunteers to help raise awareness in distracted driving.
  • Kick the Dog: Garrison repeatedly escalates the situation with North Korea and uses Tweek's name to antagonize Kim Jong-un, knowing full well his former student's personality. He doesn't get any benefitor suffer any consequences — for his grandstanding.
  • Killed Offscreen: Kenny is one of the kids in the Really Dead Montage, but was never shown run over by a distracted driver.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Cartman chooses to abandon his phony claims of killing himself at the end of the big musical number, claiming that everyone there had "convinced" him not to do it.
  • Lack of Empathy: Cartman's only concern of the children getting killed by the distracted drivers is how much this will take away from his suicide awareness act.
  • Lethally Stupid: The adults who end up having countless children killed due to looking at their phones while driving. Of course, at the end, they all blame the president.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: Before the episode's release, was published — while the URL isn't seen in the episode, Cartman's hashtag is "#EricDontDoIt". Viewers were invited to show their support and stop Cartman from committing suicide by signing their email. As of May 2022, you can still see the site, but the campaign is over.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The President refers to Kim Jong-un as "KIM JONG DONG" in one of his tweets.
  • Metaphorically True: During the montage, all of the kids killed by distracted drivers are shown with the caption, "Killed by a president on his cell phone." Considering that every one of the actual distracted drivers had been reading news websites reporting on Garrison's escalation of the North Korean crisis...
  • Mood Whiplash: It is kind of weird for Craig to tell Tweek to calm down and list all of the logical reasons why North Korea will not start a war, when the previous season had nuclear Armageddon come within a hair's breadth of actually happening.note 
  • Never My Fault: The adults — unsurprisingly — blame President Garrison for the deaths of the children they ran over instead of taking into account they shouldn't use their phones while driving.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: PC Principal. He tells Cartman he doesn't have the resources to help his cause but gives Cartman all the help he can assure him.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Tweek is right to be scared at the amusement park. Not because North Korea is going to launch a missile at him there, but because some dumbasses can't keep their phones down while on the car-themed rides.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Cartman blames Heidi for starting the suicide subplot by telling everybody that he was suicidal, even though A) he initially claimed that Heidi was the one who was suicidal, and B) Heidi told only Stan about it before word got out.
  • Shout-Out: Cartman's rap performance is an allusion to Logic's performance at the 2017 MTV Music Video Awards.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The ending song delivers the message that if you are elected President of the USA, you should put away your phone in case you start tweeting and people get distracted by your posts while they are driving.
  • Spoof Aesop: "If at any time you find yourself being President today, put down your mobile device."
  • Take That!:
  • Hillary Clinton is among those who take the pledge not to use Twitter if elected, to which the Background Music chants "NO ONE CARES".
  • To fidget spinners. People keep giving them to Tweek to calm him down, but they're shown to be completely ineffective.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Kenny died from getting run over offscreen, marking the first time he has died since Season 17.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Student Gary Borkovec is run over by a distracted driver, and appears as part of the Really Dead Montage. We've never seen him before this episode, but everyone is very sad about his death (besides Cartman).
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: During the ending song, Cartman gets a rap segment, which of course revolves around his suicide bluff.