Los Angeles Times

Oh My God! They Killed Chef!


We're with Kyle on this one: We'll remember the good times with Chef, and not the unpleasant end.

"South Park," never a home for finely nuanced satire, didn't let Chef, the character voiced by "Shaft" composer Isaac Hayes, go quietly in the wake of Hayes' departure from the show in a rift over the series' lampooning of Scientology, of which Hayes is a follower. After treating the character like dirt for nearly the entire 30 minutes of its 10th-season premiere Wednesday, the show finally gave Chef, and by extension Hayes, a heartfelt tribute at the close.

But first, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker turned Chef into a child molester.

Using obviously mismatched clips of Hayes' voice, the episode explained that Chef had been away from South Park for several months, exploring the world with the Super Adventure Club, which also molests kids during its expeditions. The club had brainwashed Chef, who was now telling Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman that he wanted to make sweet love to them.

The boys take Chef to a psychiatrist (a Scientology no-no), but he's not cured until the therapist and the boys accompany him to a strip club, where he remembers his love of women.

But the Super Adventure Club kidnaps Chef and attempts to re-brainwash him, and the group's leader, in a classic supervillain moment, reveals the club's secrets to the boys. The explanation mirrors the one Scientology leaders give Stan in the now-infamous "Trapped in the Closet" episode (right down to an on-screen message that read "This is what Super Adventure Club actually believes").

Between the edited voice clips and their filthy subject matter, Chef takes a beating throughout the episode. And then, just as he seems to be returning to the Super Adventure Club, a lightning strike breaks the rope bridge leading to club headquarters, sending Chef to an incredibly gruesome death involving impalement, a mountain lion and a grizzly bear, plus a little post-mortem incontinence.

To be fair, the boys never believe Chef's pedophilic transformation, and Kyle -- speaking, presumably, for Parker and Stone -- delivers a moving eulogy at the funeral. "Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us," he says. "But we can't let the events of the last week take away our memories of how much Chef made us smile. ...

"We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."

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