Title Ron and Diane
Two-Sentence Summary As Ron attends a woodworking awards ceremony, his relationships with the women in his life (Diane, Tammy, and Leslie) reach turning points. Meanwhile, the holiday spirit (and one very surprising Christmas party) causes Tom, April, Andy, and Donna to rethink the way they’ve been treating Jerry.
Leslie: I know you didn’t, but if you had gone to Hogwarts Academy, which House do you think you would have been in?
Diane: Well, obviously I want to say Gryffindor, but I’ve got to go with Hufflepuff.
Leslie: I respect your honesty. Gryffindor. Seeker on the Quidditch team.
My Thoughts About halfway through “Ron and Diane,” I realized that I was just going to end up disappointed if I tried to compare it with “Citizen Knope,” last season’s Christmas episode, and one of my favorite Parks and Rec episodes of all time. Nothing could possibly compare to the way the ending of that episode made me feel, and the sooner I accepted that, the better. I’m glad I decided to lower my expectations a little bit because this was a good episode of Parks and Rec, but it wasn’t a great one. It was missing the warmth that was so prevalent in “Citizen Knope” and has shown itself at various points during this season as well.
I did like that this episode had big moments of character development for people not named Leslie or Ben. Ron especially took huge leaps in terms of his development. I’m always happy to see Tammy, but this time I was especially happy to see Ron fend off her very strong advances. (I know it was supposed to be funny, but I was really grossed out by the running gag concerning her lack of underwear—but that’s just my own personal preference for undergarments showing itself, I think.) I love seeing Ron with someone who lets him be Ron and really seems to love him for exactly who he is. From the return of Duke Silver to his perfect fanboy freakout over the woodcarvers, this was a fantastic episode for Ron as a character and Nick Offerman as an actor.
Diane really is Ron’s perfect match, and nothing made that clearer than the events of this episode. In order to get the Leslie Knope seal of approval, you have to be a pretty great woman. What I love most about Diane is her quiet confidence. She knows she’s better than Tammy, so she didn’t stoop to her level. But the fact that she saw Leslie as a bigger threat told me how well she knows Ron (well enough to know that emotional intimacy is so rare for him). Though she may be just a secondary character, Diane has layers and depth that go beyond your average network comedy character, which has always been something special about Parks and Rec. I’ve also said this before, but it needs to be repeated: Lucy Lawless is looking more gorgeous than ever.
(Side note: Anybody else love that Leslie used Hogwarts Houses to break the ice with Diane? I need to start doing this in my everyday life. For the record: Slytherin—we’re not all evil, you know.)
Seeing Leslie give up her place as Ron’s “emotional guardian” was actually really sweet. That’s such a huge part of falling in love, learning to let the other person in beyond even the depths your closest friends have reached. And I like that Leslie recognized that and stepped aside, but not until after she was done dealing with Tammy in the most over-the-top way possible.
The “Jerry’s Christmas party” side of this episode also provided some moments of nice character growth. It’s good to see Chris finally working his way through his issues, and I loved seeing Ben be such a good friend to him. It was nice to see them as a team again. And it was great to finally see all of Jerry’s family. Christie Brinkley was the perfect choice to play Gayle. I always find myself getting sad to see the way people treat Jerry, but this episode was a lovely little reminder that Jerry has a great life. He’s surrounded by love and family, and he has one smoking hot wife. (Anybody else love Ben’s reaction shots throughout the episode?)
Ultimately, my favorite thing about “Ron and Diane” was seeing Donna, Tom, April, and Andy come to appreciate Jerry even just a little bit more. The world needs more people like Jerry, kind people who may not be perfect but who have their priorities in order. It was a true pleasure seeing each of the other characters come to recognize what a good person Jerry really is. I was so happy that they ended up giving him the “Jerry dinner” money to pay for his hospital bills (in a nice bit of continuity). It was the perfect touch of sweetness for a Christmas episode, and it was balanced out nicely by Jerry getting locked out of his house at the end.
“Ron and Diane” was a solid episode, but it wasn’t one I’ll be rewatching every year at Christmastime like I think I will with “Citizen Knope.” (I’m hopefully breaking out my Season 4 DVDs to watch that this weekend, actually.) It had some strong moments of character growth, but it was missing something intangible to take it from being decent enough to being memorable. But as I always say, I’ll take a weaker episode of Parks and Rec over a “strong” episode from almost any other network comedy.