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Parks and Recreation Recap: Xena Warrior Princess!

Tonight’s episode was called “How a Bill Becomes a Law.” No offense to the Schoolhouse Rock shout-out, but I believe a more appropriate title would have been “How Xena Warrior Princess Comes to Pawnee.” Did she enter with a war cry of ay-yiyiyiyiyiyiyi while somersaulting through the sky like a mythical McKayla Maroney? Did she speed in on horseback, one hand on her waist and the other wielding a sword high in the air, as though performing an equestrian version of Gangnam Style? Did she —

Not so fast, readers! We must begin with Sodapop. Because Sodapop is seeing a psychotherapist/scaling his inner Mount Everest, he has a self-proclaimed great idea to start a 311 line to field callers’ questions to the appropriate government agencies. Has Sodapop ever seen Saved by the Bell? Does he know the kinds of romantic trickery that get set in motion through something as innocuous-sounding as a help line? Methinks not.

Ron takes a call from a citizen complaining about a broken pothole by her home. When her call is continuously fed back to him, Ron takes matters into his own hands. He corrals Andy into pothole-fixing duty and THIS is where we get to Xena.

As is fitting, Xena’s children are themselves princesses. (Well, one is a mermaid, which worries me, as you know about my concerns regarding the grown-up recreation of mermaids.) Andy, being a man-child, gets along swimmingly the kiddies, while Ron makes himself useful, Swanson-style, and fixes the pothole. When Xena emerges, not only to inquire about the specifics of the pothole fixing but, more important, to quench Ron’s thirst with lemonade procured at Food and Stuff, the only grocery store he frequents, it’s pretty clear that we’ve got a budding romance on our hands. Not that we didn’t see it coming: With 311 as the meet-cute, we knew where this was going. Worth it anyway for the princess makeup session. Damn, Ron. Not everyone can rock glitter and a mustache.

What I love about Andy — or should I say, Princess Rainbow Sparkle — is that when it comes to love, he just goes for it. He decided he loved April, so he impulse-slash-surprise married her. And back at the office, when Ron is being all “No, I can’t ask her out, I don’t like her, shut up, your face likes her!” Andy has already sidewalk chalked a cute li'l message on the asphalt telling Xena to come on by the Parks department. Which she does. A date is set! Please, and thank you. I can only hope next week’s episode focuses almost entirely on Ron and Xena’s first date.

As for the real title of this episode, it refers to Leslie’s efforts at passing a bill with her name in it: the Leslie Knope Fun in the Sun Bill, which would extend public pool hours citywide. Leslie can’t wait to spread her gusto for the democratic process with young, impressionable Pawnee Porpoises. There is only one person in the way: Councilman Jam. How does he spell Jam? One M or two? I can’t read the cursive on his dental smock, so I’m just going to call him Councilman Jelly. Councilman Jelly is a douchebag. Sorry to be so blunt, but I know you guys were thinking it. He could not turn Leslie’s private bathroom into a public one by request, so now he’s trying to do it by force. He’s withholding his vote unless he gets to do an office swap.

Leslie insists on taking the high ground by winning over Councilman Milton instead and also, in the meantime, by getting a perm because Ann isn’t around to talk her out of it. OH NO, LESLIE, DO NOT GET THE PERM. I REPEAT, DO NOT GET THE PERM. ANN IS GONE, BUT I AM HERE. JUST SAY NO. In a duh comedy move, Leslie halts the perm when it is only half-completed. In a great comedy move, Leslie articulates her desire to take the high ground like so: “I do not negotiate with dentists.”

Leslie, Tom, and Councilman Milton meet, and it’s all a little meh except for two things: (1) Milton’s platform when he was first elected was to de-integrate baseball — slogan: “You’re outta here!” — and (2) this exchange after Tom takes a bite of the old dude’s Caesar salad (not a euphemism):

Tom: You can really taste the ignorance.

Councilman Milton: It’s pronounced “anchovies.”

Milton promises his vote and goes in to seal the deal with a kiss, but Leslie dodges, so he promptly collapses. OOPS. Next time, stick to the Newsies spit-and-shake. It’s kind of like your hands are French-kissing!

Leslie eventually does negotiate with dentists and caves to a few of Councilman Jelly’s commands. Tom pushes Councilman Jelly in the pool, Leslie follows suit, and then, as anyone who has seen Legally Blonde could foresee, Leslie’s perm is destroyed the moment she gets her hair wet. Thank freaking goodness.

Ben and April wanted to make it to Pawnee for all of the aforementioned excitement, but they were defeated by two of Washington’s greatest foes: heat and traffic. April suggests they take a ten-hour road trip to see their sweethearts, and Ben agrees. His confessional: “I like April. She’s like the little sister I never had. Because the little sister I do have is normal and not terrifying.” En route to the car, April wisely notes that it is so hot, “living in this town is like living in the devil’s butt crack.”

Alas, they never leave the garage. The presidential motorcade holds up traffic for a million hours, and by the time they can move, Ben and April have emptied the gas tank by blasting the air-conditioning. On the bright side, we now know why Ben loves movie soundtracks so much. “I look at it as your favorite directors making a mixtape just for you.”

I don’t want to get too enthusiastic because April would not approve, but I am liking this Ben and April odd-couple-friends dynamic. Okay, fine, I like it a lot. Sticking the two of them outside their comfort zone (or really, anyone’s, because who is actually comfortable inside the devil’s butt crack?) and in new, challenging jobs was a stellar move. Even if it means we’ll be listening to more of Ben’s fan fiction.

On to the most important part of the recap: Donna watch.

Donna is reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Is this obvious and predictable? Yes, but for some reason that does not make it any less funny, especially when she is explaining salacious plot points to a 311 caller while Jerry is fielding actual 911 calls right beside her. I grade this episode as adequate regarding Donna usage.

See you next week, gang. You can keep it casual. No makeup.

Photo: NBC