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Parks and Recreation Recap: The World Is a Vampire

Democracy: It’s all the rage this week! And really, what every citizen desires is the right to decide which of seven time capsules David Lee Roth’s memoir Crazy From the Heat belongs in. (The answer, of course, is all of them.)

But before there is a need for Pawnee’s latest open community forum — or, to Ron Swanson, “crackpot convention” — a very simple gesture on the parks department’s part becomes hopelessly complicated. Leslie is preparing a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. Jerry contributes his mother’s journals. Ron throws in a menu from J.J.’s Diner including his favorite breakfast, the Four Horse-Meals of the Aporkalypse. (Or was it Four-Course Meal of the Eggporkalypse? Is that better? Discuss below!) Tom adds a picture of Lucy, defaced Dan Snyder–style because she just dumped him. And Leslie, of course, adds an entire bound volume of Pawnee history that she wrote and assembled herself. Her riff on Pawnee’s past slogans is the latest example of what’s fast become a hallmark of the show, maybe starting with “Practice Date” last season — rapid-fire lines, rattled off in jump cuts. “Welcome German Soldiers!” “Home of Julia Roberts.” “Home of the Famous Julia Roberts Lawsuit.” “Zorp Is Dead, Long Live Zorp.” And, especially, “First In Friendship, Fourth In Obesity.” All of these jokes occur in the show’s first two minutes.

After word gets out about the project, Kelly, a devout evangelical Twi-hard played with suitable earnest creepiness by Will Forte, handcuffs himself to the pipe in Leslie’s office until she agrees to put the Twilight books in the capsule. He’s brought food and coffee and a back pillow, so he’s ready for a long stay. He gets the lovelorn Tom hooked instantly, leading to perhaps the first getouttaherewiththat moment in the show’s run: Tom Haverford, investor in Pawnee’s hippest club, acolyte of Neil Strauss’ The Game and inventor of D.J. Roomba, has never heard of Twilight? As Amy Poehler may have said in another life, “Really?” Lucy likes Tom but needs him to get over Wendy’s relationship with Ron. Here’s the brilliance of both the show and Forte — Kelly is genial and harmless enough, and his argument soundly enough delivered, that when the second act reveals him to merely be a divorced dad trying to impress his daughter, we don’t get whiplash. Could the character have been more over-the-top? Sure. But in the long run, it’s not just funnier, but more dramatic, that he’s not.

Leslie’s sympathetic to Kelly’s situation, but if she allows the book in the time capsule, that will lead any Pawnee citizen with a gripe to chain himself to a pipe in her office and expect results. So, what follows is the aforementioned open forum, in which Pawnee’s fringiest fussbuckets debate whether Twilight is too Christian or not Christian enough, or whether Tulip the cat’s ashes should be included. Eventually there are seven different time capsules (one of which is dedicated solely to baseball cards) to accommodate all the different needs. A comment from Ben, who’s impressed by Pawnee’s dedicated weirdos, gives Leslie an idea: The video of this long, agonizing meeting is a better illustration of the town’s diversity and ability to communicate than any material objects, so she gets everyone to agree that a DVD of the forum should be the only thing that goes into the capsule. There is some worry that there may not be electricity in 50 years, yet, oddly, not that there won’t be DVD players.

Meanwhile, Andy confides in Chris about his troubles with April over the greatest shoeshine ever. (“That is the coolest sentence I’ve ever heard somebody talk,” marvels Andy over Chris’ cheery reasoning.) Using his two strongest — only, it would seem — positive attributes, “nice” and “band,” Andy proceeds to bond with Eduardo over their mutual appreciation of the Dave Matthews Band. One nine-hour jam session later, April is disgusted by this new friendship and sends Eduardo back to Venezuela.

Finally, as a gesture to heal the fractured town, and her emotionally bruised co-workers, Leslie arranges a screening of Twilight, and it looks like Andy and April are, finally, on. Team Leslie all the way.



Photo: Justin Lubin/NBC