In this latest episode of The Shivering Truth there is, somewhat shockingly, something of a cohesive narrative as certain characters are involved in all of the separate situations. Trey Parker, Conner O’Malley and Miriam Tolan provide some of the voices this time, once again the performances are top notch, and love is all around us as PFFR take on the subject of passion and tenderness in a way which is as horrifying as you might expect. Anyone hoping for something sweet and saccharine has come to the wrong place and it’s as bloody and disgusting as the majority of their work. But would you really want it any other way? Yes? Well, okay, that’s fair enough, but if you like this sort of thing you’ll truly love this particular episode of the series.
Starting off in a grotesque manner a young kid scratches his arm so much that the ensuing sore on his arm grows in to the shape of a small church until he’s totally consumed by it, and his parents are guiltily pleased as it means they have somewhere to mourn him. We return to that in a bit, but then the action cuts to an Army drill hall as an angry Sergeant screams at a soldier, calling him a “Puny maggot”, only to become confused as “How is that physiologically possible, maggot?”. It’s not resolved though as then the two of them are telepathically communicating, with the soldier reassuring the Sergeant that he’s not pathetic, and then they’re telepathically making out before the soldier eats his head. For once it’s not a repugnant end for a character as he soon shits it out, and it’s revealed that it was all a covert elite psychic training program and the Sergeant is packed off to war. I mean, what else were you expecting? It’s the unpredictable nature of the show that makes me love it so, with the occasional warmer moments like when the Sergeant asks “Why do you treat me like dirt when all I ever wanted was to bask in the light of your love?” juxtaposed with horror as after returning from battle he’s a bloody mess, missing limbs and now part cyborg. After some cruel verbal battering (“You’re more like a piece of meat that keeps on living”) it’s once again divulged that it’s another test, and that the Sergeant has now passed cyborg training program and he’s off to war to be maimed once again.
At first it seems like the narrative has changed completely as the following scene is set in a department store with a young woman buying underwear that bleeds “So you don’t have too”, and there’s also self-snotting underwear and some which give birth to children. And a bra which self-feeds, along with wife beaters that do exactly what you might imagine. But then the solider from the previous scene is reintroduced and he’s madly in love with the woman, but after he leaves the store he activates the “Automatic Insecurity System” which makes him question everything he believes about himself and a breakdown inevitably takes place. Taking solace in the flesh church we saw at the beginning he seeks answers from God, but only receives them from the Sergeant, who has now been in so many wars and lost so many body parts that he’s only “pure consciousness energy”, and also rather murderous.
Given the general nature of the series it unsurprisingly suggests that love only creates misery, which for once is something PFFR claim that I don’t agree with, but then I think I’d be mentally disturbed even more than I currently am if I did. Plus it is understandable here given that when the Sergeant falls in love with the soldier it turns him in to a pawn of the military, repeatedly sent out to murder despite losing more and more of his body and mind, the soldier also meets a ghastly fate and the woman suffers horrendous physical pain due to the effects of love, which causes her skin to bubble and burst. It also highlights how love creates insecurity, and perhaps that’s something which can’t be always denied, but at least in the majority of cases this doesn’t lead to mental collapse and seeking answers in religion. And if it does, well, it’s probably time to contact a therapist and have a bit of a chat.
This episode also has a slightly more childish element, with one character casually mentioning another with the line “Well, that takes care of dildo” and after the Sergeant is telepathically shat out of the Soldier’s stomach the latter wipes his arse, causing stains to permanently appear on the Sergeant’s face but I’ve no issue with it as such idiocy amused greatly. It’s also more repugnant, what with the flesh church and the underwear that bleeds so women no longer have to have periods and there’s plenty of body horror on display, but for once that’s something which is unsurprising, both elements are common in PFFR’s other series. The main thing is that they still generate hearty laughs despite the fairly gruesome imagery, and the satirical elements are as strong as ever.
As with all reviews of The Shivering Truth I feel I should stress that this isn’t for everyone, it’s bleak, often disturbing stuff and you have to enjoy the blackest of humour to be enamoured with it, though you’ve probably guessed that from the above description. But this exploration of love, guilt and insecurity is engrossing and amusing, and even if you find yourself disagreeing with it’s sentiments you’ll probably still relish it’s bizarre outlook.
You can watch the episode on Adult Swim’s site here.
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Our review of The Shivering Truth – The Nurple Rainbow.