The Return of Chef
|"The Return of Chef"|
|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 10
|Directed by||Trey Parker|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||March 22, 2006|
"The Return of Chef" is the first episode of the tenth season of the American animated television series South Park, and the 140th episode overall. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 22, 2006. It was advertised as the tenth season premiere. The episode was the first after the departure of Isaac Hayes, who voiced Chef. Hayes, a Scientologist, left after a falling-out with the creators over their treatment of Scientology in the episode "Trapped in the Closet." Scientology has been accused of using brainwashing techniques, and the episode portrays Chef as having been brainwashed.
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," Hayes was quoted as saying in a press statement. The statement, however, did not directly mention Scientology. A response from South Park's co-creator Matt Stone said that Hayes' complaints stemmed from the show's criticism of Scientology and that he "has no problem – and he's cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons, or Jews." Stone adds, "[We] never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begins."
During the episode, Chef is voiced by Hayes from splices of archived recordings. This is purposely made obvious at points and noticeably dialed back when Chef is cured.
The episode begins with a fictitious "Previously on South Park", which explains that Chef left South Park to join the "Super Adventure Club", hoping to add excitement and meaning to his life. For three months, he is gone. However, at the beginning of the episode he returns and the boys quickly notice that he is acting strangely as he expresses a desire to have sex with them (his words are spliced together from his spoken/sung lines in previous episodes). Wanting to find out what has caused all this, they go to the Super Adventure Club headquarters and discover that the group is made up of explorers who travel worldwide, molesting children. When the explorers' leader, William P. Connelly, unsuccessfully tries to hypnotize the boys, they realize that the club has brainwashed Chef.
They enlist the help of psychiatrist Dr. Neeland. He asks what was Chef's favorite pastime before having sex with children. Stan says "Having sex with women" and the psychiatrist recommends that they take Chef to a strip club, which is called the Peppermint Hippo (which was also used in the episode "Lil' Crime Stoppers"). After an initially cold reaction to the strippers, he is taken by a "feature dancer" at the club who happens to be a morbidly obese black woman named Spantaneous Bootay. She shoves Chef's face into her breasts and buttocks and Chef snaps back to his old self again. However, the agents of the Super Adventure Club appear, tranquilize Chef, and kidnap him. Chef is then held in a containment center and read the rules of the Super Adventure Club. When the boys follow them back to their headquarters and demand Chef's release, Connelly explains the history of their organization with the caption "This is what Super Adventure Club actually believes" (a reference to "Trapped in the Closet"). He explains that "Children have particles called marlocks in their bodies, and when an adult has sex with the child, the marlocks implode, feeding the adult receptive cavity with energy that causes immortality, so sayeth the ruler of Bethos." The boys quickly state that it is the most retarded thing they ever heard; when Connelly indignantly asks if these beliefs are any more retarded than fundamental ones for Christianity and Buddhism, Stan angrily says "Yes. It's way, WAY more retarded."
The boys are told that they have to leave, but they refuse to do so without Chef. Connelly eventually calls security to escort them out, after threatening multiple times to do it. The boys escape from the guards and run off, and they find the containment room where Chef is lying on a table and a club member is attempting to brainwash him again. Kenny headbutts the club member in his groin, knocking him to the ground. The boys then escape with Chef, but Connelly reminds Chef why he joined the Super Adventure Club in the first place, telling him that his life will be grand and eternal if he stays with them rather than the boring one he left in South Park. Though the boys plead him not to, Chef walks back towards the club. However, the bridge that Chef is crossing collapses after being struck by lightning. He tries to climb back up onto the cliff, but is unable to hang onto the bridge as it is on fire. Chef falls and is impaled on a jagged tree stump. He is then attacked by a mountain lion. Connelly—desperate to keep Chef alive—instructs one of the members to shoot the mountain lion. He tries, but accidentally shoots Chef in the heart. He fires two more bullets, both of which hit Chef. A grizzly bear then appears and attacks Chef as well. The mountain lion tears the skin off Chef's face. It then bites off his right hand and the bear bites off Chef's right foot. Chef's legs and waist both tear apart and his insides fall out, killing him. The boys are now dismayed by Chef's death, with Stan saying "Oh my God! They killed Chef!!" Kyle then angrily blames the club members for Chef's demise ("You bastards!! YOU BASTARDS!!"") Realizing that they lost Chef, the club members return to their headquarters. Cartman initially offers hope Chef may still have survived, since they are all aware that upon death, the body voids its bowels (referring to prior episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes"), but before Cartman can finish speaking Chef's body voids its bowels at that instant. Cartman then says, "Oh, never mind." and the boys, dismayed by their friend's death, leave the scene.
A funeral for Chef is held, during which Kyle explains that although he did not agree with Chef's recent decision, he is not angry with Chef for leaving South Park, and that the "fruity little club" Chef joined is to blame for his recent behavior. The description of "fruity little club" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Scientologists who, like Hayes, took offense to the satirical episode that drove Hayes from the cast. Kyle finishes by wishing the congregation to remember him as the soulful, down to earth music man he once was, and also assures everyone that somewhere out there is still a good part of Chef that's still alive in everyone. The scene then cuts to the SAC members resurrecting Chef as Darth Chef (parodying the ending of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), now fully embracing the club's ethics.
Views and sales
The original television airing of the episode drew more than 3.5 million viewers, including 2.3 million aged between 17 and 49. This popularity made the episode Comedy Central's highest-rated season premiere since "Jared Has Aides" in 2002 according to a Comedy Central spokesman and Nielsen Media Research. The episode was also ranked fourth in video sales on iTunes.
The episode received fairly high review ratings. Eric Goldman of IGN reviewed the episode and gave it an overall rating of 8.0, noting as particularly amusing the creation of new dialogue for Chef by splicing previous recordings of his character. Goldman also noted that the eulogy for Chef "probably says how Parker and Stone really feel about Hayes" Adam Finley reviewed the episode for TV Squad, and described the episode as "one of the funniest, and most memorable, of the series".
- imdb (29 October 2007). "IMDB – Peter Serafinowicz". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-10-29.
- Barger, Al (24 March 2006). "TV Review: South Park "The Return of Chef"". blogcritics.org. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
- "'South Park' Premiere Draws Big Audience". cbsnews.com. 24 March 2006. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
- Allesandra Stanley (24 March 2006). "Chef Returns To South Park". The New York Times.
The parallel to Scientology could not have been more obvious. But it was the parallel between Viacom and Scientology that made this episode necessary in the first place.
- Adam Finley (23 March 2006). "South Park: The Return Of Chef!".
Sure, the episode made him out to be a brainwashed freak who winds up having his face torn off by wild animals and turned into a Darth Vader-esque figure by the "fruity little club" he belongs to, but it was made clear that it was the club (read: Scientology) that did this to Chef.
- "Isaac Hayes quits 'South Park' citing religious intolerance". CBC. March 23, 2006.
- "South Park gets revenge on Chef". BBC News. March 23, 2006.
- "The Return of Chef" at the Internet Movie Database
- Reuters (24 March 2006). "Chef's grisly exit is a South Park hit". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
- Hibberd, James (April 3, 2006). ""South Park" Episode Lives; Scientology Story Line Thrives Online as Comedy Central Looks the Other Way". TelevisionWeek. pp. TV Currents.
- Eric Goldman (23 March 2006). "South South Park: "The Return of Chef" Review". tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2006-11-28.
- Adam Finley (March 23, 2006). "South Park: The Return of Chef!". tvsquad.com. Retrieved May 24, 2009.
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