Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Parks and Recreation Recap: The Debate

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "The Debate" Episode 420 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Paul Rudd as Bobby Newport -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

It's debate time in Pawnee, the moment we've all been waiting for! (Most of us are probably more involved in the Pawnee election than our own local elections.) Ben is rallying the troops by informing them that Leslie is just eight points behind Bobby Newport in the polls, so Chris, Ann, and Tom are functioning as Leslie's Spin Team (I'm glad they're really running with Chris's relentless optimism), while Ron, Andy, and April are throwing a party for Leslie's donors. Ron provides the Swanson ribs, April provides the lap dances. Leslie and Ben are checking out the debate arena (don't worry, Leslie, the podium is four feet, just like your Parks Deptartment podium) and talking up how Leslie is going to wipe the floor with Bobby Newport. Let's do this.

In non-election news, Ann has (FINALLY) broken up with Tom, after he reveals a bit too much information about her on the "Dr. Douche and Professor Taint" morning show. Tom is depressed and goes to April for advice, and April is qualified to advise because she cares about "Andy, Champion, Leslie winning the election, and sleeping." Meanwhile, in Spin Team land, Chris and Ann are working together fantastically, practicing by spinning Leslie's hypothetical farting and puking into her exuberance for the job, when Chris confesses that he still has feelings for Ann. Strong, emotional, primal feelings. Ann is taken aback and protests that Chris is her boss, but Chris protests that if Newport wins, he'd probably lose and lose his job, too. Soooo, there's a lot riding on this election.

At the donor party, Andy and April are trying to convince people they're normal — "I left my shirts at a Wendy's … the economy, huh?" — but when they turn on the TV, they haven't paid their Cabletastic bill, so there's no debate to watch. Andy starts acting out scenes from his favorite movies (great Roadhouse rendition), while Ron is sent to do something you know he's equipped to do: steal cable. While Andy runs through Rambo and Babe (Donna's face is priceless), Ron does a perfect version of Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman" in a backwards baseball hat. Screw the debate, let's just watch this!

But I digress. After getting pumped up to Sarah McLachlan, it's debate time! (I love Jennifer being on her phone during "The Star-Spangled Banner"!) Finally, we get to meet the other candidates. There's Fester Trim, crazy owner of Gunbelievable Gun Emporium; Brandi Maxxx, the fairly sane adult film star who is dressed strikingly like Leslie Knope; and Manrico Della Rossa, crazy animal lover. Leslie comes out swinging and Bobby reacts like an injured seal pup, eliciting sympathy from the audience. Bobby's "aw shucks" personality is winning him a million points. Leslie is asked to ease back.

The debate continues, and Bobby continues to charm with stories about wanting to make the town proud and clean up things that are dirty. His toughest stance is that he's against crime, because once someone stole some downhill skis out of his Jeep. After this, it's just hilarious cuts of answers from the candidates, like:

"Concussion grenades in our movie theaters." —Fester Trim

"All my movies are based on books." —Brandi Maxx

"Anyone who rubs their hands on a leather jacket should be tried for murder." —Manrico Della Rossa

"Daniel Craig ... no, Timothy Dalton" —Bobby Newport

"My stance on abortion is 'let's just all have a good time.'" —Bobby Newport

Backstage, Jennifer admits to Ben that Leslie's doing well, but says they have an ace in the hole to win the election. Ben tries to get the info from her, but instead she asks if Chris is single and how normal his penis is. The "ace in the hole" is that if Leslie Knope wins, Sweetums, Bobby's father's candy company, is going to move to Mexico, costing thousands of people their jobs and depriving them of candy. "If I win", Bobby says, "I bet I could get them to stay." Leslie is floored. Ben insists that she not address it, but she's got that scary Leslie glint in her eye, and she insists that she can take care of things. Ron has just gotten the cable on in the house so that the donor party can watch Leslie's final statement, which is genuinely moving and emotional and damned good. So good that adorable moron Bobby Newport yells, "Holy shit, Leslie, that was awesome!" And it was.

In the Spin Room, Tom is pouting because he thinks Chris and Ann are back together and finally admits to Ann that he really likes her but he acts like an ass because he's nervous around her. These are things that everyone knew, but she seems touched. She tells Chris that she can't get back together with him, and while he excuses himself to go run some stairs and work through some emotions, the world screams a collective "DON'T GO BACK TO TOM!!!" and thankfully, she doesn't. But she might. But she doesn't.

Post-debate, Leslie is flying high (and so should Amy Poehler, who also wrote and directed this episode), and so is Bobby — he's just happy he got through it. Party at Dad's lake house!!

Two weeks until the election, guys! My vote is with Fester Trim!

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC