Title Emergency Response
Two-Sentence Summary A surprise emergency preparedness drill leaves Leslie in lockdown at City Hall on the day she’s supposed to host a gala to raise the money needed to make Pawnee Commons a reality. With Leslie unable to run the show, Ben takes the reins—while Ron becomes a big hit on TV and Andy takes his police exam.
Favorite Line “Love fades. But things? Things are forever.” (Tom)
My Thoughts It’s hard for me to separate how I feel about last night’s episode as a whole from my whirlwind of emotions about the end of the episode and what’s coming next week. Every time I try to think about specific moments in “Emergency Response,” it’s like I can’t hear rational, analytical thoughts over the fangirl voice in my brain screaming, “BEN AND LESLIE ARE GETTING MARRIED NEXT WEEK!”
But because I am nothing if not a professional media analyst (Hey…caps lock is totally professional.), I’m going to try my best to sum up why “Emergency Response” was one of my favorite episodes of Season 5 so far—beyond the beautiful cliffhanger of an ending.
I’m one of those people who believes that Parks and Rec can never be too optimistic. I watch the show because it makes me happy, and the happier I feel while watching an episode, the more I’m going to like it. Nothing makes me happier on Parks and Rec than people coming together to do nice things for one another, so it goes without saying that this episode was one big bundle of joy for me.
I loved everything that Leslie did this week—which was nice because, like Heather, I had some definite issues with her behavior in “Ann’s Decision.” She was strong and determined in this episode, but she was also warm and optimistic. Her drive to set up the gala and raise the money to make Pawnee Commons a reality was classic Leslie Knope. If there’s red tape or any other obstacle in the way of her dreams, I never have any doubt that she’s going to push (or maybe sometimes steamroll) her way over them because she simply doesn’t take no for an answer. That kind of determined belief in herself and her goals is what makes Leslie such an admirable character.
The emergency preparedness drill provided strong moments for all the characters involved. I loved getting to see Chris’s therapy pay off once again. Rob Lowe is doing some excellent work this season, and I’m so happy the writing for Chris is living up to his performance. I also loved that Leslie had to do something decidedly un-Knope-like in order to see the gala come to fruition. Normally, Leslie would never let the whole town fall to pieces, even in a simulated drill. But sometimes you have to make a hard choice; not everything works out perfectly all the time.
The preparedness drill was peppered with some fantastic details. The Animal Control guy was my favorite bit player in this episode. I loved that we were never sure if the birds were actually going to die, and I loved his disturbingly infectious enthusiasm. And, once again, Amy Poehler proved herself to be the funniest woman on television with her simulated newscasts. I particularly adored her humming a theme song in the episode’s tag.
Beyond Leslie’s story, this episode was filled with great character moments. Chris Pratt shone once again during Andy’s police exam. When he was explaining why he’d let a teenager hold his service weapon, I was just about crying with laughter. I’m happy he didn’t pass the exam, though. It would have been just a little too unrealistic.
Another part of the episode that had me nearly in tears with laughter was Ron’s talk-show plot. Ron says so little that we hardly ever get to see Nick Offerman get on the kind of roll he was on in this episode. Each cut to a different piece of advice with Joan in a different awkward position had me laughing harder than the previous one (culminating in that truly flawless moment of Ron talking about Herbie: Fully Loaded while Joan tried to grab her water with her feet). I honestly could have watched an entire hour of Ron taking phone calls. (I gladly would take that instead of The Office lately.)
The conclusion of the episode had me in tears of another kind. While it was hilarious watching Ben, Tom, and especially Donna falter while trying to set up the gala without Leslie, it was so beautiful to see it all come together. The moment Leslie first took in the lot, all decorated and filled with people, reminded me of Season 4’s “Citizen Knope,” with each of the people Leslie loves doing their part to make her dream come true. It’s those moments that make Parks and Rec stand out from the crowd of television comedies. There’s nothing cynical or snarky about a moment like that—it just makes you feel good.
At its heart, Parks and Rec will always be a show about a woman who loves a town with her whole heart and the people from the town who love her just as much. The whole essence of the show was summed up in this episode when Leslie reminded the crowd that “No one achieves anything alone.” Parks and Rec is a show about friendship and love, and that’s never been more evident than when Leslie said that line and the camera cut to Ben’s smiling face, looking like he’s never loved this woman more.
The feel-good vibes of this episode were the perfect segue into next week’s big wedding event. I loved that Ben, who is usually so methodical, was the one to decide to get married that night. Leslie has shown him that it’s okay to deviate from the plan sometimes if the deviation leads to something amazing. So time and again we’ve seen him hold her hand and jump into the great unknown. Having a spur-of-the-moment wedding brought on by a display of love between Leslie and Pawnee was the perfect next leap for this beautiful couple. Ben fell in love with this town as he fell in love with Leslie, so it seems fitting that their wedding would take place with the whole town watching—and that the lot that has been Leslie’s dream for years would become the setting for the realization of this dream: to find and marry her perfect partner.
I haven’t been this excited for a TV wedding since Jim and Pam. I’m ready to laugh, cry, and fall in love with these two all over again next week. If you need me between now and next Thursday, I’ll be stocking up on tissues.