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Parks and Recreation Recap: The One with Joe Biden

“Leslie vs. April” was a study in two different kinds of relationships: the delicate yet ultimately rewarding nature of the mentor-mentee bond, and the deep, primal connection between a woman and the only man on her celebrity sex list.

Leslie meets Joe Biden!
Leslie and Ben take a field trip to D.C. to scope out their future digs, a.k.a. the White House — Knope in 2024! — and for Ben to surprise Leslie with the Greatest Engagement Gift Of All Time: Joe Biden.

Leslie’s love of VPJB is well documented. Biden’s ability to be (unintentionally) funny is just as well documented. It’s no shock that Amy Poehler was outstanding in goofy-giggly mode — “My name just came out of your mouth!” — but was anyone else surprised at just how well Biden nailed his part? His reaction faces were so excellent I hope some more technologically capable person has already made GIFs of them that I can watch all day. That awkward tango at the end, when Leslie has her hands on Biden’s face and Ben is trying to subtly pry her off the man who’s one heartbeat away from the nuclear codes? Epic.

Leslie signs off with a “See you tomorrow!” and Biden replies with a pitch perfect, “Uhh, you will?”

I love everything about this more than Joe Biden loves Amtrak.

April Ludgate loves dog parks, human farms
Leslie could not be prouder of April’s dog park presentation. “I want to take a picture of you saying ‘per capita,’” Leslie says, using a camera that sort of looks like a Fisher-Price toy. “Now stand next to the screen and think about all of the powerful female role models in your life.” All is well until April announces where she thinks the park should go: Lot 48, the field behind Ann’s house that Leslie has had “dibs” on for years. To quote a famous dog: "Ruh-roh."

Readers, I’m all about April Ludgate’s deadpan delivery. It’s like Daria had sex with Alan-Rickman-as-Snape, didn’t even realize she was pregnant, had a baby that she was all “whatever, I don’t even care” about, and shipped that baby to Indiana. In case you’re not still with me here, that baby is April Ludgate. However! It’s nice to see Aubrey Plaza flex some other muscles, as in both literal other face muscles and figurative acting muscles. Her whole arc in this episode, which this first scene captures in miniature, takes her from embarrassed-and-proud to passionate-and-activist-y to scorned-and-betrayed and back again.

Leslie says she’ll do anything to stop April from putting the dog park on Lot 48. April’s idea of “anything” goes like this: “Saw off your toe. Shave your head. Have sex with Jerry.” Leslie rejects all three offers. “Well,” says April. “I tried being reasonable.”

In related news, I would like a list of all of April’s best lists. Someone get on starting that Tumblr, stat.

As we all wish we could do when faced with problems we can’t solve, Leslie barges into Ron’s office for his guidance about guidance. She asks him, “How did you used to slow me down when I was becoming too me-ish?” Ron’s ideas for slowing April down include busywork — though Leslie contends her brochure on soil wasn’t busywork; “People still refer to ‘Mulch Ado About Nothing’” — and using waffles as a distraction tactic.

Then Ron delivers the realest advice of the episode: “Everybody has something that they’re passionate about. Just find out what it is, express interest in it, and divert their attention.” So Leslie takes April to Orin’s Human Farm. Orin, the creepy kid from April and Andy’s wedding, has a human farm. One more time: Orin’s. Human. Farm. I can’t even with Orin’s Human Farm. I’m not even going to try to recap it. I have no words. Perhaps this is because I am the sheep.

April turns to an untrustworthy ally, Councilman Jamm (of bathroom-stealing fame), who pretends to help her only to Benedict Arnold the crap out of her at the town council meeting. OH NO HE DIDN’T. This double-crossing is worth the pain because it means we get to see Ann, April and Leslie band together in a mediation session followed by what just might be the cutest ambush I’ve ever seen: They turn Councilman Jamm’s front lawn into a makeshift park for puppies and people. The gauntlet has been thrown, and it is a pretty adorable gauntlet. You’ve just been Knoped. And Ludgated. And Perkinsed.

An Officer and a Gentleman
I didn’t find Andy’s storyline all that compelling this week. I like the idea of Chris (real name back by reader demand) as Andy’s mentor, but the whole Andy being a lunkhead thing is only cute when executed creatively. Doing the “I can’t find my sunglasses!” bit when your sunglasses are on your person in plain sight is, I think, the opposite of creative execution. But I did enjoy Andy’s unvarnished appreciation for Chris’ handsomeness, i.e. “You’re as guilty as you are sexy.” It also appears that Chris’ therapy is working at least well enough to allow Chris to help others, if not yet help himself.

Ben and Tom try to make stacks on stacks on stacks
Ben offers to help Tom with the financial end of his new business, Rent-a-Swag. But Tom just keeps getting rejected while Ben lands one job offer after another. (I’m sort of surprised the Urban Outfitters crowd wanted him for a management position, dressed as non-ironically as he was, but I’ll go with it.) We learn two important things from this series of meetings: Tom had a plan for an escargot delivery service called “Snail Mail,” and a Sweetum’s molasses plant exploded, “resulting in a slow ecological disaster … A lot of homes were very gradually flooded.” Is it too soon to find this funny in a post-Sandy, currently-warming globe? I honestly don’t know, but I giggled just in case.

In the end, Ben realizes he can’t be an accountant again. Tom is right: If Ben’s job were even remotely interesting, there’d be a show on A&E about it. From a character trajectory perspective, I’m relieved the show didn’t move Ben backwards while Leslie forges ahead. Life is short. Why be an accountant?

Donna Watch
Donna’s only line in this entire episode was her alibi: “I was in Miami last weekend. I took my talents to South Beach.” I can only assume Donna barely graced this episode because she graciously ceded her screen time to Joe Biden.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, recap-readers! If things get weird while you’re hanging with your family, just remember: Breakfast food serves many purposes.

Photo: NBC