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Parks and Recreation Recap: The Nipple King

Halloween must be like Christmas to TV comedy writers. The Simpsons have made a 23-year franchise out of it, and even relative newbies like Parks and Recreation froth at the chance to get their characters drunk and in a goofy, yet personality-appropriate costume without any pretense. Of course Andy is UFC legend Chuck Liddell, right down to the Mohawk bald wig. Of course April is a sumo wrestler who’s lost the weight. Of course Chris is Sherlock Treager, trading his literary hero’s British pastiness for physical perfection. Of course Donna is a slutty cop and Jerry is Mr. Potato Head. Of course Ron Swanson is a pirate, same as last year, because that is his Halloween costume. And of course, genetically nonconfrontational Ben is annoyed by the ruckus at April and Andy’s party and just wants to work/mope quietly in his room. (Also: shout-out creepy, lurking Orin.)

The party itself is relatively uneventful: Ron blissfully tends to some crucial home repairs, replacing the bag consisting of a hammer, a half a pretzel, a baseball card, a Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge, and a flashlight full of jellybeans with a proper toolbox. (Likewise, the writers make do with Ann’s continued non-role — she’s an eggplant — by having her, happily, assist Ron. He needs her small hands, she needs something to do.) Chris texts Millie to come to the party without ever breaking eye contact with Jerry, then spends the entire night freaking out Jerry (who is beautiful, on the inside, where his spirit lives) as he makes out with the guy’s daughter. Andy uses the Dwyer method (read: wrestling moves and some hugging) to cajole Ben out of his passive-aggressive grumbling. It works: Ben breaks Andy’s nose. Andy agrees to be more respectful of Ben’s space and not use his comforter for pillow forts/having sex on, while Ben does not agree to pay $5,600 for Mouse Rat’s next album.

Notably missing from the party are Leslie and Tom; Entertainment 7Wenty, on its last legs, hosts a meet and greet so Leslie can get better acquainted with Pawnee’s business leaders, most notably the town’s rubber nipple king as well as Jeff’s Savings and Loans. And what better way to introduce her and her staunch anti-salad platform than at an event plastered with faux-Warhol lithographs and throw rugs bearing Tom’s face? He is desperately trying to network with businesses in a last-ditch effort to save his own business, and while Leslie doesn’t like to throw around the word butthead for fear of it losing its meaning, Tom’s being a real dick. After he sabotages her speech and ruins her chances with the frugal, self-hair-cutting nipple king, Leslie confronts a sad, pruned Tom in the Entertainment 7Wenty Hummer-limo hot tub. (“They say you gotta spend money to make money, I don’t know what went wrong. We spent all our money.”) But he’s also a secretly kind, tiny human, and he made her a biographical video that didn’t even get shown and also made amends with Malcolm the nipple king. Leslie is grateful and convinced Tom will turn things around, but the question remains: What of the (off-camera) weeping Jean-Ralphio? Who’s there for him?

Photo: Danny Feld/NBC