As I was busy making my way out from underneath an avalanche of work this weekend, my own personal Ann Perkins (aka Heather) was kind enough to step in and share her thoughts on the latest episode of Parks and Recreation.
Title Pawnee Commons
Two-Sentence Summary Leslie is moving forward with her plans for a park on Lot 48 with an unlikely helper – an architect from Eagleton. Meanwhile, Tom enlists the help of his friends to set up Rent-A-Swag, and Andy saves the day as a security guard with help from April.
Favorite Line “Well, I’m in love with a woman from here. A strange, passionate, goofball of a woman.” (Ben)
My Thoughts I didn’t enjoy this episode quite as much as the last few, but for a show that consistently puts out great episodes, even the ones that aren’t as strong are still a thoroughly enjoyable half-hour of television. I liked it a little better in retrospect, but I wished the episode had included more ensemble moments. It was an important episode for Leslie, Tom, and Andy in similar ways, and I would have liked to see a scene with the three of them.
Leslie’s story this week had her struggling between her hatred of all things Eagleton and her desire to give Pawnee the best possible park that she can. One of Leslie’s defining characteristics is her love for her town, and I loved seeing the way that was manifested in this episode. Accepting Leslie Knope as a person means accepting Pawnee as a town. Her hatred of Eagleton and automatic distrust of the people in it are completely warranted given her previous interactions with them, although in typical Leslie fashion, they are expressed in a completely over-the-top way. I kept waiting for the architect to prove Leslie right and be just like everyone else from Eagleton. I have never been so happy to be wrong. The park he created was not only a perfect representation of Pawnee, but now that I have seen this design, I can’t imagine any other park going on Lot 48. This park means so much to Leslie, and to see it turn out to be a visual representation of all the aspects of Pawnee she loves so much could not have been any more perfect.
I love any episode that has Leslie and Ben working together because they represent everything I believe a relationship should be. They balance each other out so well, with Ben’s calmer demeanor in perfect contrast to Leslie’s intensity. Ben was able to get Leslie to temporarily move past her mistrust of Eagletonians in order to do what was best for Pawnee, although he refused to let Pawnee (and by extension, Leslie) be treated badly. While Ben was falling in love with Leslie, he was also falling in love with Pawnee. He understands her attachment to the town, and he sees what makes it so special to her. I love that he loves all of Leslie—quirks and all—and that her passion and the intensity with which she approaches life are just things that make him love her more.
Tom had another similar internal struggle to undertake. He needs Rent-A-Swag to work so badly, both for monetary reasons and because failing again would devastate him. So he tried to become an ultra-efficient businessman who was primarily concerned with the bottom line and pushed away everything that makes him Tom. I loved seeing Tom the way we did at the end of the episode. He knows that he needs to be more responsible with money than he was with Entertainment 720, but he didn’t lose who he was. It was such a huge moment of character growth for him, and I know I can’t wait to see him become the success he’s always dreamed of becoming.
I’m kind of intrigued by Chris seemingly picking Ron has a mentor. Ron is very self-assured, which is something that Chris lacks, so I think this could be an interesting pairing. I’d even like to see Ron learn something from Chris as well.
Finally, Andy’s journey was much like Tom’s. He has had this image of what being in law enforcement would be like, but April helped him realize that he didn’t have to be Bert Macklin in order to be good at his job. While I love Bert Macklin and whatever character April can create as Bert’s antagonist for comedic purposes, I am happier that Andy is continuing to grow and evolve as a character. While being a security guard isn’t everything he hoped it would be, he did get to help save the day for that little boy and his mother, and I think that’s something that will stick with him. He learned that he doesn’t have to be someone else in order to make a difference—just being Andy Dwyer is enough.