Title The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic
Two-Sentence Summary When Leslie learns that Eagleton is facing a financial crisis, she has to put aside her own hatred for the town and do the right thing, which in this case involves absorbing Eagleton into Pawnee. Meanwhile, Ron enlists Tom and Donna to help him get off the grid, and April and Ann take a trip to Bloomington that doesn’t exactly go as planned.
Favorite Line “ERASE ALL PICTURES OF RON!”
My Thoughts It would have been difficult for any episode of Parks and Recreation to follow up the fantastic fun of last week’s season premiere, but “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic” was a valiant effort. It had plenty of funny moments, but where it faltered a bit was in its character development. It made me wish Parks and Rec could always be an hour long because so much of this episode felt rushed.
Let’s start with one of the things that had me most excited for this episode—Kristen Bell as Eagleton councilwoman Ingrid de Forest. While she given some very funny and sharply satirical lines about government spending (I loved that she tried to tip Ben in Euros), I wished she had been used more. Bell is such a fantastic actress and such a funny lady that I can only hope the events of this episode mean we’ll be seeing more of Ingrid as the season goes on. Otherwise, it was kind of a waste of her talent—and a chance to see her flex her comedic muscles opposite Amy Poehler.
All in all, I wasn’t crazy about Leslie’s storyline for the majority of this episode. I know Leslie’s overdramatic hatred of Eagleton is as much a part of her character as her love of Joe Biden, but that doesn’t mean I will ever really enjoy episodes like this. I don’t like watching Leslie Knope be mean; it makes me squirm rather than laugh. And it really bothered me to see her trying to drag Ben down to her level. I understand that Leslie needed to be worse than she’s ever been about Eagleton in order for her change of heart to feel the most dramatic and earned, but this was all a little too over-the-top for my liking.
In the end, though, Leslie did the right thing, the “Leslie Thing” (aka the thing that is most helpful and supportive towards another person or, in this case, town). It made me happy to see Ben’s influence on her in this episode. He knew exactly what to say to get Leslie to act on what she knew to be true all along: She may say that helping Eagleton goes against everything she stands for, but, in reality, laughing at their suffering and refusing to help them goes against everything she stands for at the core of who she is. I was so proud of Ben for standing up to his headstrong wife and helping her to be her best self. A marriage is a team, and Ben is always on Leslie’s team. But sometimes teammates have to call each other out when they’re not doing the right thing. Ben and Leslie are a marriage of equals, so it was nice to see the effect that rational, calm Ben has on (overly) impassioned, dramatic Leslie.
This was a great episode for the character of Ben Wyatt. Not only did he help Leslie take a huge step towards becoming her best self by putting away her hatred of Eagleton to do what’s right, he got to show off his accounting skills again. I love how much Ben loves calculators, and it was nice to be reminded of what brought him to Pawnee (and Leslie) in the first place. Also, how awesome was the reunion of Butch Countsidy and the Sumdance Kid? I could watch their handshake on repeat for the rest of my life and be a very happy girl. Ben and Chris’s friendship isn’t often the star of the show, so I love when it gets its rare moment in the “Parks and Rec relationship” spotlight.
Another Parks and Rec relationship that could always be in the spotlight as far as I’m concerned is Ann and April’s begrudging friendship. While their storyline may have felt a little flat in this episode, we still got some great moments, such as April calling Ann her “Meemaw” and telling her she’s worse than Guy Fieri. Ultimately, though, I was somewhat disappointed in the way April’s storyline was handled this week. It seems as if her decision to go to veterinary school was dismissed with barely a second thought. I understand that the cast is already thinning out so April was needed in Pawnee, but her decision should have at least been treated as more than just a throwaway storyline, which really seemed to exist only to enlighten Ann to the idea of listening to her gut about moving away from Pawnee to raise her baby.
(Side note: I was surprised that the show is already dropping hints about Ann and Chris leaving, but I suppose I shouldn’t be since even people who don’t watch Parks and Rec know about Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe leaving this season. This episode also just furthered my belief that I am not ready to say goodbye to either one of them.)
The final storyline in this episode—Ron trying to reclaim his privacy by destroying all traces of his identity—felt a lot like a rehash of previous Ron Swanson plots (and previous Tom and Donna plots, too), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hilarious. Sometimes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is the right advice to follow. I cracked up at Ron’s family getting issues of Ebony delivered to their home, and I laughed even harder at all of the allusions to Retta’s fabulous Internet presence. But nothing in this episode—and maybe nothing else I see on TV this week—could possibly have made me a laugh harder than Ron accidentally creating a Vine of himself saying “ERASE ALL PICTURES OF RON!”
This wasn’t the best Parks and Rec episode ever. Heck, it wasn’t even the best Parks and Rec episode of this very young season. But at its heart was a really prophetic message about putting aside your hatred and biases in order to do the right thing. That certainly sounds like something our real politicians should be thinking about right now. If only they each had their own Ben Wyatt to help them, but I don’t think Leslie would like to share.