South Park returned for its 22nd season on Comedy Central last night, and opened with proof that the show can still surprise, if not exactly shock anymore. During the gang’s fourth grade math class, gunshots are heard from the hall, along with screams and sirens, though neither the teacher nor Stan, Cartman and the rest even flinch.

“Shooter down,” says a police officer outside the classroom. Says the teacher, “Now, let’s move on to the next equation.”

The cartoon then gets a dig at the media. As the kids casually leave school at the end of the day, a TV reporter on the scene intones, “Another school shooting today has left students in shock and disbelief,” when of course they’re anything but.

“We’re going to deal with this as a family,” Stan’s shaken mom Sharon says as she runs up to her untroubled boy. Out of earshot, a puzzled Cartman asks, “Gee, what’s up Stan’s mom’s ass?”

The just-another-day approach continues at dinner.

“Who shot up the school?,” Randy, Stan’s dad, asks. “Was it you?”

“No,” says Stan.

“Did you get shot?”

“No.”

“Oh, well. What’s this about failing a math quiz?”

Check out that scene in the promo above.

The opening scene was just the first of school shootings depicted at South Park Elementary during the episode, which was titled “Dead Kids.”

The controversial subject matter goes a way toward explaining an earlier show promo demanding its own cancellation, with a black screen bearing the phrase “#cancelsouthpark”.

Last night’s episode of the Trey Parker-Matt Stone series ended with what may or may not be a cliffhanger, a sort of spin on the show’s old “they killed Kenny” gag. In the closing moments, Stan’s parents get a phone call informing them that their son has been shot. “It’s not the end of the world,” reassures mom.

“I love you Sharon,” says Randy, relieved at his wife’s keep-calm response.