Two-Sentence Summary Leslie’s attempts to get the Pawnee government to help a struggling “cultural institution” (aka video rental store) bring her into conflict with Ron and his staunchly anti-bailout views. Meanwhile, Ann and Chris both look for ways to cope with his impending decision about being her sperm donor—with Ann choosing to blackmail April into a week of friendship and Chris testing his parenting skills with Tom.
Favorite Line “I’m sorry, guys. No one ever lets me talk this long, I just got lost.” (Jerry)
My Thoughts While this wasn’t my favorite episode, it did contain at least one (possibly two) moments that would be sure to make my list of All-Time Favorite Things to Ever Happen on Parks and Rec. (Maybe I should actually write that list down sometime…Possible summer hiatus project?) I didn’t care as much about the Leslie/Ron A-plot as I wanted to, but I was okay with that because the secondary plots were so strong.
While I loved Jason Schwartzman cinema-snob video store owner (I almost cried laughing at his reaction to having Michael Bay movies in his store), something about that whole plot fell a little flat to me. I usually like episodes that feature Ron and Leslie butting heads over conflicting ideologies (“Pawnee Rangers” did this the best, in my opinion), but for some reason I just didn’t care about the political satire in this episode. Maybe it’s because it didn’t really move either character forward at the episode’s end. However, I understand that not every episode can be a huge episode for every character, so I’ll take the little gems that this plot provided and enjoy them.
And there were plenty of little gems in this A-plot: Andy’s story about the hornet’s nest, Leslie’s love for Finding Nemo (excellent taste, Ms. Knope), Brandi Maxxxx’s existence in general and her adorably awkward one-sided friendship with Leslie, Ron ordering a party platter of meat for only himself, and Perd Hapley’s 1.5 star review of E.T.
I think some of my disinterest with the bailout story was because I wanted more of April and Ann’s story. In the same way that I said I would have watched a whole movie featuring the rotating bachelor party shenanigans from “Two Parties,” I would gladly sit through hours of watching Ann and April dance around on the edges of friendship. I am absolutely loving the way Ann is being written right now. Rashida Jones plays enthusiastic awkwardness so well, and I’m so happy the writers seem to be running with that this season. I laughed way too hard at all of the clichéd “BFF!” things she was making April do—from their matching braids to making White Russians in their pajamas. But what I liked most about all of those over-the-top actions was that they came from a genuine place of desperation to take her mind off of Chris’s lack of a decision about donating his sperm. And when she finally revealed that to April, we got what is probably one of the highlights of the entire season.
I didn’t realize how empty my life had been without Ann, April, and Donna singing “Time After Time” until it happened. Honestly, does it get any better than this? The moment Donna joins in and takes the upper part of the harmonies honestly made me do a happy dance in front of my TV. I love when Parks and Rec surprises me with moments like this—moments that simply make you feel good.
The sing-along also worked on an important character level for April that continued through the rest of the episode. Once she saw that Ann was genuinely in need of a friend, she stepped up and gave Ann a rare glimpse of the softer side of April Ludgate, a side I love seeing. April’s character arc is one I’ve come to absolutely adore, and this episode took her to new heights. When she gave Ann the baby name book and grudgingly accepted her hug, I found myself actually getting a little misty-eyed. (I just really love when this show focuses on friends doing nice things for each other, okay?) I cannot wait to see what the rest of this season has in store for April as a character.
I also cannot wait to see what’s going to happen with Ann and Chris’s baby storyline, which is something I never thought I’d say. While I still think Ann’s desire to be a mom came out of nowhere and was rushed into becoming a big plot point, I believe that adding Chris into this story makes it a hundred times better. Jones and Rob Lowe work really well together, and I actually love the idea of Chris working through the process of becoming a father even more than I love the idea of Ann’s journey toward becoming a mother. Part of me also still hopes they’ll get back together now that they’ve both been working on bettering themselves. I think the actors and the characters work really well together.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the newest edition to the Sapperstein family. Mona Lisa was everything I’d hope she’d be—from her singing (which obviously runs in the family) to pulling out a flask on the job. I wasn’t a big fan of Tom becoming romantically involved with her, but at least he knows she’s a disaster. And this episode confirmed my belief that Jean-Ralphio instantly makes any episode better by his mere presence. When he sang into Ben’s face and caused him to actually fall down, I laughed harder than I have during Parks and Rec since the ice rink scene in “The Comeback Kid.”
Ultimately, this isn’t an episode I’ll be keeping on my DVR forever, but I know I’ll be watching the “Time After Time” scene on YouTube for many days (or months) to come.