Two-Sentence Summary While Ron deals with a possible lawsuit from Councilman Jamm after punching him on Leslie’s wedding night, Ann and Chris continue on the path to parenthood despite some compatibility issues. Meanwhile, Leslie and Ben travel to his hometown, and Ben deals with kidney stones as Leslie discovers just how much the people of Partridge still hate their former “Ice Clown” mayor.
Favorite Line “You wanna make a baby, Traeger? Your hair, my everything else—that kid would be unstoppable.” (Donna)
My Thoughts Oh Parks and Rec, how I’ve missed you. Any time this show comes back from hiatus, I’m reminded of the very specific hole it fills in my media-consuming life. Everyone needs a “comfort show,” and Parks and Rec is mine. It never fails to make me feel good.
My favorite story in this episode belonged to Ron, April, Andy, and Tom. It’s no secret that I love Parks and Rec episodes that show various characters rallying around one of their own, and I especially love when it happens independently of Leslie. Over time, her positive influence has clearly rubbed off on the people around her, and the entire parks department really has become a family. It’s nice to get little reminders from time to time that this is a show where all of the characters are genuinely good people at heart.
While I really don’t like Councilman Jamm at all (I think he’s too one-dimensional and that the writers can do better than what they’ve done with him), my dislike of the character proved valuable this week because I got to watch an extended montage of Ron talking about wanting to punch him in the face. I really liked that honesty was more important to Ron than winning (and that the only thing worse than lying is skim milk, which itself is a lie). It fit with his character to have honor be something he values above all else. I also really liked seeing April and Tom step up once again in the responsibility department—they’ve both grown so much this season.
The Leslie/Ben plot would have been my favorite part of the episode if it would have focused a little more on Ben and his character development, which is what I thought was going to happen when I first heard about this episode. Don’t get me wrong; I love no character on TV the way I love Leslie Knope, and I could watch Leslie-centric storylines for the rest of my life and be happy. But I feel like Ben’s character development got short-changed somewhat in an attempt to show Leslie being a supportive wife (which we already know she is) and to show Adam Scott act hilariously loopy while Ben was on morphine.
I suppose ultimately this episode showed us that Ben didn’t need closure as much as he thought he did (and as much as we as an audience thought he did). However, I still would have liked to see him in a position to stick up for himself a little more (but it was a great feminist twist to have the wife being the one defending her husband’s reputation for once). Even though I would have liked to see Ben pull off something similar to what Leslie did in Season Three’s “Flu Season,” I’ll admit to smiling so big my face hurt while watching Leslie show the world—or at least Partridge—how much she loves her husband. For so long, we’ve watched Ben support her, and I love those moments when we’re reminded that Leslie is also his biggest supporter. That’s the way a marriage should be.
This episode was a beautiful reminder of why Ben and Leslie have the best marriage on TV right now. They have each other’s backs through everything, and they’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Watching Leslie cry while Ben read his speech was both hilarious and incredibly true to who her character is and what her relationship with her husband is like. They’ve both grown and achieved so much with the other’s help, and I loved that the moral of their story in this episode was that the past matters so much less when you have someone wonderful to share your present and future with. It’s no coincidence that Ben used “Pawnee” as a code-word for “Leslie” when he was expressing his feelings for her back in Season Three’s “Road Trip.” Pawnee is his home because Leslie is his home. Leslie—loving her, helping her chase her dreams, building something special with her—helped him move on from the disaster his past in Partridge was. She means more to him than any key to a city—because she loves him back the way Partridge never could.
Leslie even loves him when he’s completely whacked-out on pain meds, but how could you not love him then? Scott was brilliant in those scenes, showing a kind of comedic skill only matched by Amy Poehler’s brilliance in the aforementioned “Flu Season.” My personal favorites were Ben calling Leslie a “snugger-doodle,” crying over The Price Is Right, and feeding the bronze eagle in the mayor’s office. (Scott’s “Why?!” in that scene had me in tears from laughing so hard.) There’s usually one bit or storyline in every Parks and Rec episode that I say I could watch for a whole 30 minutes, and this week’s pick for that honor would definitely be Ben on morphine.
My least favorite part of this episode was Ann and Chris’s storyline (although it did give us one moment of typically-flawless Donna sass). I’m still not sold on Ann so quickly choosing to become a mother—it still feels like something tacked-on one week that became this huge plot out of the blue. I was touched by the last scene between her and Chris, and I do think Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe have two very different comedic energies that work really well together. I’m just still unsure that a baby plot is the right way to put that chemistry to good use.
What did you all think of this week’s episode, my lovely snug-bugs? Let me know in the comments!