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Parks and Recreation Recap: Happy Congratuchristmas!

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Ron & Diane" Episode 509 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

Pawnee got quite festive last night. Ron, Diane, and Leslie celebrated Ron’s Achievement in Chair. While Tom, Donna, and the Dwyers set out for their annual Jerry dinner, Jerry was throwing a little shindig of his own. Time to party hop, readers:

The Indiana Fine Woodworking Awards
Leslie has had a Ron Swanson Google alert for seven years, people, and it finally paid off. Why else would she skip into his office dressed like that nightmare elf out of David Sedaris’s “The Santaland Diaries” to the tune of “Jingle bells, jingle yay, jingle good for you!”? Ron’s self-appointed emotional guardian is going to accompany him to his awards ceremony, even though Ron already has a date in his lady friend/warrior princess, Diane.

Right away, Leslie accidentally plays the Best Friend card, letting it slip that she knows Ron’s middle name is Ulysses. (He strikes me as more of a Hector type, but let’s not dwell on the specifics of Greek and Roman mythology here.) Ron Ulysses Swanson gets giggly as a tweenage girl at a One Direction concert when he sees his woodworking heroes, and I don’t have the words to describe how wonderful it is. Will someone please make a giddy Ron GIF for me? Thanks, Internet!

This Leslie and Diane dynamic is played just right. It’s equally obvious to us that Leslie thinks she’s a good, enthusiastic friend and that she’s a threatening figure to Diane. Also, of course Leslie says that she’d be in Gryffindor, seeker on the Quidditch team. I was surprised that Diane sorted herself into Hufflepuff. Who does that? That’s like saying, “Are we dressing as the Drapers for this sixties theme party? Awesome, I’ll be Bobby.”

Every detail in the hokey and self-serious woodworking event is fantastic, especially the “In Memoriam” segment honoring fallen woodworkers who’ve been buried in coffins they built themselves.

Things are going fine when — dun dun DUN — Tammy Two shows up. Hot damn Megan Mullally! More like the Indiana FINE Woodworking Awards, amirite? But seriously. Tammy Two struts in with her just-so-slutty red dress and Tina Fey/Sarah Palin/sexy librarian glasses. Honestly, why is she there? Does her character have a believable motivation for this? Or is she merely an agent of chaos, dropping a golden apple into the proceedings and bellowing, “TO THE FAIREST”? (Too much with the Greek mythology? Sorry guys.) Point is, any excuse to watch the real life Mrs. Ron Swanson whoosh through the scene like the Tasmanian devil, leaving hilarity and utter devastation in her wake, is okay by me.

Ron wins for Achievement in Chair, but he can barely get through the first few sentences of his acceptance speech before Tammy Two does some Basic Instinct leg crossing and sends him running offstage in terror. Diane tells Leslie that she’s not worried about Tammy Two; she’s threatened by Leslie and Ron’s friendship. Leslie relates this to Ron, who is naturally appalled by the notion of a romance with his liberal blonde colleague. As a gesture of friendship and sacrifice, Leslie volunteers as tribute to take care of Tammy Two so Ron can chase down Diane.

Leslie and Tammy Two wind up engaging in a completely bizarro fight on the side of the road in a dumpster. Fun fact: this abandoned-looking place is just down the street from where Brody got picked up in a helicopter by Abu Nazir! Carrie isn’t crazy. It is all connected.

Ron assures Diane that he and Leslie are platonic BFFs, nothing more. And then he performs as DUKE SILVER, his secret saxophone-playing jazz sensation identity. “It might be cold outside,” he says. “But it’s about to get warm all up in my jazz.”

Jerry is the host with the most (attractive family)
No offense to Leslie’s jingle bell remix, but the most beautiful song I heard last night was the four-part harmony on "Jerry dinner, Jerry dinner, Jerry dinner, Jerry dinner!" As Tom explains, every time he, Donna, and the Dwyers laugh at something stupid Jerry does, they put a dollar in a box. At the end of the year, all this cash goes toward a fancy dinner. This year’s haul was $518. Yikes.

On the drive to dinner, Donna the Voice of Reason has a change of heart and says they have to invite Jerry on their outing. Yet as they drive up to his house they discover: Jerry is throwing a Christmas party! Were they even invited? Well, they don’t know, because all of Jerry’s e-mails go directly to spam. Biggest laugh of the night, courtesy of Andy when he sees Ann walking into Jerry’s house: “And Ann! I didn’t even know she knew Jerry.”

As it dawns on Tom and the Dwyers that Jerry had invited them, plus that he’d been sending them nice messages for years, they actually start to feel guilty. I like that the gang atones for just how mean they’ve been to Jerry; I love a good joke at Jerry’s expense — I mean, I’m not a Hufflepuff — but Parks and Rec shines when its characters are funny through kindness, not cruelty. So when Tom hands Jerry all the money and explains, “Every time we did something mean, we put a dollar in a box,” it was as sweet to me as full-fat eggnog.

Ben, Chris, and the Gergich girls
Ben asks Chris out on a little bro date, and who could say no to Adam Scott in that cardigan? Just kidding, literally any human could say to no Adam Scott in that cardigan because WTF IS THAT CARDIGAN. He looks like some guy off of Your L.L. Bean Boyfriend. Chris is seeing his therapist fifteen times a week and is making progress. But could anything prepare him for the Gergich family affair?

I’ll hand it to Christie Brinkley, the Smiliest Supermodel, making a cameo as Jerry’s wife: She commits, even to the coordinated singing and dancing with the tacky-sweatered Gergich girls, and, given her daughter’s dating history, somewhat inappropriate chemistry with Chris. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can’t fight Gorgeousness Gravity.)

But then! Millicent Gergich walks in the door, and she is not alone. She has on her person … those straight-across bangs that are so hot right now. PSA: They will never look like that when you try to blow-dry them yourself. I’m sorry to be the bearer of that news but someone had to tell you. Oh also she brought her fiancé, Carl. Chris and Carl are wearing the same madras tie, which is strange on two counts because (1) matching and (2) it’s not summertime, but okay. The whole thing should unnerve the easily unnerved Chris, but Chris swears to Ben that he’s facing his fears, “even when my fears are engaged to a man with the chiseled jawline of a younger me.” Sleep in heavenly peace, Chris. This time the giant spider will be caught in your web.

Until next time, stay warm. I’ll be keeping toasty with gloves; mittens are unflattering to my hands.

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC