Title Animal Control
Two-Sentence Summary Leslie and her fellow city council members attempt to find a capable person to run the animal control department in Pawnee after Harris and Brett are fired. Meanwhile, Ron gets sick, and Ben tries to convince cologne mogul Dennis Feinstein to donate to his charity.
(while Ann is helping Ron fill out his paperwork at the hospital)
Ann: Sexual history?
Ron: Epic. And private.
My Thoughts Although “Animal Control” didn’t really cover any new ground (except for April’s newest story development), it took classic Parks and Rec themes and jokes and showed why they still work five seasons after the show began. It gave us moments that reminded us why we love these characters. And it showed once again that when you need a TV show to simply make you feel good, there’s nothing better than a half-hour spent in Pawnee.
I really love what the writers are doing with April’s character this season. There’s always been a sincerity underneath her blasé attitude that usually only came out around Andy, but I love that we’re getting to see more and more of her passion as this season has gone on. She’ll never be Leslie (and thank God for that because Pawnee can barely handle one Leslie), but watching her stand up for the things she cares about in her own way has been one of the most rewarding things about this season. I really liked that she was the one to come up with the idea of moving animal control into the parks department, and I loved how proud Leslie was of her. Having a plaque made long ago simply because Leslie believed in April’s future was such an in-character thing for her to do. I love when this show honors its characters in little details like that.
Another standout part of the A-plot was the inclusion of Harris and Brett, two of my favorite citizens of Pawnee. Their brand of stoner comedy works like a charm to make me laugh every time they’re on screen. I loved the way so many recurring townspeople showed up in this episode because it reminded me that one of my favorite things about this show is how well-developed even the background characters have become over five seasons. From Orin to Dennis Feinstein, some of my favorites came back to play this week, and it made me all kinds of happy to see them.
Speaking of Dennis Feinstein, there were some hilarious moments of comedy in that plot as well. Ben’s reaction to the cologne is another reason why Adam Scott should win an Emmy for Best Facial Expressions to Ever Exist. He is owning all the material he’s been given this season, and I’m going to be sorely disappointed if he’s not recognized by some fancy award committee for that. Another great comedy moment was Tom’s reaction to Dennis Feinstein’s “Most Dangerous Game” offer. I don’t know what it was, but something about Aziz Ansari’s delivery of “I think that guy wants to hunt me!” made me laugh until I was in tears. And, like so many episodes of Parks and Rec, this plot went from hilarious to heartwarming with Tom offering to give money from Rent-a-Swag to Ben’s charitable efforts. This show does such a good job of making small acts of kindness like that one feel genuine and integral to a certain character’s development. Learning to be nice is an important part of characters’ emotional educations on Parks and Rec, and I love that—because that’s the way it should be in the real world, too.
Ron’s storyline was another one that dealt with familiar territory in a way that still managed to keep things fresh and funny. I always love Ron and April interaction, so the scene of Ron giving her his medical history was one of my favorite parts of the entire episode. (Ron considering the desire to do yoga a mental illness was perfection.) But what I enjoyed most about this storyline was that it showed us rather than told us how much Diane means to Ron. Like April, the way Ron has been able to grow as a character this season while still remaining so true to the Ron Swanson audiences fell in love with in Season One is a sign of how well these writers and actors know their characters.
And no mention of Ron’s role in this episode would be complete without praising the glorious episode tag featuring his attempts to eat a banana. I’ve never laughed so hard at someone trying to eat a piece of fruit. That scene was, without a doubt, one of the funniest moments Parks and Rec has given us this season.
Everything about this episode felt good—like a warm blanket on a rainy day. As someone who also watches The Office, I can tell you that not every comedy on TV right now makes me feel good. That’s why I’m so thankful for Parks and Rec. When compared to the unnervingly depressing tone The Office is taking in this final season (I’m thinking especially of the Jim/Pam stuff), the optimistic vibe I always get from Parks and Rec is beyond appreciated. Sometimes you just want your favorite shows to make you happy, and I’m so thankful that I can turn on my TV at 8:30 on Thursday nights and watch a show that does exactly that.