Parks and Rec Recap: ‘Ron and Tammy Part II’

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Sequels are dangerous business, especially in comedy. They tend to serve as hollow rehashes that fail to capture the magic of their predecessors. I was worried that last night’s “Ron and Tammy: Part Two” would turn out to be a repetitive, less-funny version of last season’s fan favorite “Ron and Tammy,” but the second installment managed to one-up the original episode in terms of laughs and balls-to-the-wall craziness. There are few sitcoms over the years that have managed to craft a successful once-a-year theme episode. I’m not sure if the writers plan on continuing to make a “Ron and Tammy” show each year, but if the quality of these episodes stays the same, then this franchise could someday join the ranks of Cheers’ “Bar Wars” and The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror.” I hope to see this theme episode continue as a tradition in future seasons.

Nick Offerman’s real-life wife Megan Mullally returns as Ron Swanson’s ex-wife Tammy, who still holds a torch for her former man. While last year’s episode displayed the great control Tammy has over Ron, we’ve never seen her affect him as deeply as she does here. Ron and Tammy resume their out-of-control, love-hate relationship, sending Ron into a glorious downward spiral in which he once again loses his dignity, as well as part of his moustache. The morning after Ron and Tammy wildly rediscover their love, Leslie and Ben find the couple in a jail cell, Ron wearing cornrows, a kimono, and having lost a large chunk of his trademark moustache “from friction.” The car ride home from the jail, in which Ron describes how his moustache “rubbed off” is a great introduction to Ron’s dark side for newcomer Ben Wyatt and new viewers alike.

The subplots also worked well, Leslie and Ben’s quest to secure the police department’s support for the Harvest Festival tied into the Ron and Tammy A-story nicely. I’m looking forward to Leslie’s and Ben’s impending romantic relationship, as I’m not quite sure how the writers are going to play it. April taking advantage of her unwanted position as Chris Traeger’s assistant to get back at Ann was a nice touch, and it was a surprise to see Chris more enthusiastic about April returning to Indianapolis with him than Ann. I sure didn’t expect Chris to be dragged into the tension between April and Ann. The end of the episode saw April and Andy continue to slowly inch towards getting together, with Andy’s alter ego Bert Maclin, FBI, saving April from Chris’s servitude.

In both “Ron and Tammy” episodes, Offerman and Mullally’s off-screen chemistry manifests itself in a twisted and hilarious way. They play off each other well, and it’s nice to see Tammy take the normally calm and reserved Ron so far out of his element. At this point in the series, this was the most outside of himself we’ve seen Ron Swanson. It’s hard to imagine the writers taking the character to a darker place if they do another one of these episodes next season, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

Bradford Evans is a writer living on the edge.