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Parks and Recreation Recap: The Swanson Code

There are many paths to success: There’s hard work, there’s good fortune, and there’s capturing No. 3 on Pawnee, Indiana’s Most Wanted Pests list. We think Sun Tzu said that. Or maybe it was Tony Robbins.

When notorious public-golf-course possum Fairway Frank bites Mayor Gunderson’s dog and the mayor demands the varmint — not to have sex with, mind you — who you gonna call? Those burnout morons in animal control? Well, yes, eventually, but first you hit up Leslie Knope, famously tireless in any endeavors that goose her status among the power elite, to form a task force. And thanks to Andy Radical (“By day, shoe-shine-ist; by different part of day, possum-tackler; by night, I do whatever I want, no job”), Fairway Frank is captured, business cards are exchanged, and political capital is gained. Unless maybe it’s another possum altogether, in which case: high jinks! Leslie is wracked with guilt that she may be condemning an innocent, if still awful, marsupial to spend eternity stuffed and placed over the mayor’s urinal getting splashed by flecks of pee. Clearly, the solution is to have the house-sitting April spirit Maybe Fairway Frank to Ann’s house for safety, even if it costs her some newfound clout in City Hall. April and Leslie squeamishly try and corner the beast; Leslie catches on that April’s worried that Andy’s heroics might lead Ann to take him back; the mayor’s bloodlust — pee-lust? — goes unquenched.

Meanwhile, Ron is hoping Mark will simply rubber-stamp a permit for an addition to the Swanson wood shop, but Mark won’t do so without a proper inspection. Twenty-eight code violations later — and really, there has to be a better place to store oily rags than above a wood-burning fire — Ron is regretting that request. Not because he’s lazy, but rather because city codes, too much government, etc., and so forth. What’s important is that the wood shop adhere to the Swanson Code, which immediately makes us think of Tom Hanks with a mullet and an awesome 'stache. Of course, Mark saves the day by helping Ron make the repairs, and of course Ron repays the gesture by building him a giant fucking canoe. Overnight. This is the second time in three episodes they’ve tapped the extreme-woodworking gag and it’s still pretty funny. (Given the fact that Tom idolizes Tiger Woods for his sexaholism and golf in general for its lax attitude regarding appropriate pants, the opening bit with him trying to snuggle a nannycam into Ann’s bedroom is just the other side of creepy.)

The biggest contribution Ann makes this episode is to exit it almost immediately, setting up the escaped possum problem, and she wasn’t in the last episode at all. Now that the show itself is winking at its abandoned original premise of following Lot 48’s (lack of) progress, the writers are having a harder and harder time justifying her existence, and charming though Jones may be, the show doesn’t seem to be suffering as a result. But if her link to The Office helped to get this show green-lit and attract an initial audience, then: job well done. Guess there isn’t much chance of the Stamford branch reopening.

More Recaps:
The AV Club digs the way the two subplots highlight Leslie and Ron's opposing views towards the role of government.
EW thinks this episode may have had the best April and Andy interplay to date.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC