Title Leslie vs. April
Two-Sentence Summary Leslie is thrilled to learn of April’s passion for creating a new dog park in Pawnee, until she discovers that this park would be built on Lot 48, which she has been working for years to make into something worthwhile on her own. Meanwhile, Ben helps Tom look for Rent-a-Swag investors and makes a big career move of his own; Andy hits a snag in his police academy enthusiasm; and (in case you haven’t heard by now) Leslie meets Joe Biden.
“You don’t let anything happen to him. You understand me? He is precious cargo!” (Leslie, speaking to Biden’s security team)
Even without Joe Biden, this was a solid episode of Parks and Rec. With Joe Biden and his fabulous cameo, it was one of my favorites of this season so far. For the last few years, I’ve been amazed at how this show can operate at such a consistently high level, and it doesn’t show any signs of falling short of its own high standards anytime soon. “Leslie vs. April” may not have had as many ensemble moments as the best episodes of this show, but it did have plenty of moments of genuine laughter, character development, and earned sentiment.
Let’s start with the reason this episode was so highly-anticipated: the presence of Mr. Happy Warrior himself, Vice President Joe Biden. All politics aside, I think Biden did an excellent job in his scene, especially when you consider the fact that Amy Poehler most certainly ad-libbed a lot of Leslie’s reactions to meeting her ultimate celebrity crush. Leslie’s obsession with Biden has always been one of my favorite little character quirks of hers, so I had high expectations for this meeting from the moment I first heard about it. As it usually is with this show, I was not disappointed. It was awkward, it was hilarious, and it was played to perfection by everyone in the room.
I love that Biden was Ben’s engagement gift to Leslie. It was exactly the kind of gift Leslie gives: big, meaningful, and personally-tailored to the recipient. It just proved to me once again that Ben Wyatt is the perfect match for Leslie Knope and the only character that could ever be good enough for her.
The opening of the episode was another great Leslie/Ben moment, with her dreaming of the White House and him perfectly happy to live there as “First Gentleman.” That scene was their relationship in microcosm: Leslie has big dreams, Ben has a place in those dreams, and he supports her as she goes after them. The fact that he doesn’t laugh at her when she confidently states she’ll be president in 2024 and instead says it sounds great was so inspiring to me and I’m sure to many other women with big dreams and hopes of finding someone who will support us as we chase them. While other girls are looking for the Edward to their Bella, I’m looking for the Ben to my Leslie.
Both Leslie and Ben had strong storylines independent of each other, too. Though I think some parts were a little over-the-top, I enjoyed the progression of Leslie and April’s relationship in this episode. There’s something so endearing (and for me, so relatable) about Leslie’s intense desire to be a role model for someone like April, so one of my favorite moments in this episode was when Leslie started crying because of April’s newfound passion for getting a dog park built. The great thing about Leslie is that she’s not all talk; if she says she’s going to cry because she’s so proud, then, dammit, Poehler is going to actually turn on the tears. I wasn’t a big fan of Leslie’s antics during the council meeting (I was getting an extreme case of secondhand embarrassment), but I understand where her anger was coming from; Lot 48 has meant so much to her over the years. In the end, I loved the April/Ann/Leslie reconciliation scene because it showed growth for both April and Leslie and it was a scene between three women that felt real. Women don’t always talk about men or fight over men; we talk about and fight over lots of things, and this show has always been great at showing us that in scenes like last night’s hand-holding makeup scene.
Ben’s plot with Tom was also great for both of their characters and provided lots of laughs. It made me happy to see that Leslie’s passion has rubbed off on Ben; he wants to do something that he’s passionate about now that he’s had a taste of it in D.C., and I’m excited to see where it leads. I’m also excited to see this more serious side of Tom as he finally pursues a sensible business venture. Plus, getting to see Aziz Ansari tackle-hug Adam Scott basically made my entire night when I saw it (but not as much as this moment from Scott showing Ben at his most adorkable).
The other characters didn’t have as much to do this week (although Andy taking off his shirt made me almost cry with laughter), which is okay because the A and B plots were both solid, but I hope to see more from all of them soon.
Another week, another enjoyable trip to Pawnee. I had to wait until after midnight to watch this episode (being a Buffalo Bills fan meant spending this Thursday night watching them finally win instead), but it was worth it. No show on TV makes feel as good as Parks and Rec makes me feel.