Have I ever experienced a more educational half-hour of entertainment in my life? No, readers, I don’t believe I have. Fun facts gleaned from this week’s episode include, but are not limited to: You can’t steer a locomotive; you can whittle a birthing stick; and no motivational technique is a match for un-motivate-able April Ludgate.
Something Old vs. Something New
Here’s a nifty Pawnee tradition: Because of the loopy penmanship of the pioneering Pawneeans, someone named Ted gets thrown in the lake each year. Ted objects. Patton Oswalt decrees, “Enough dithering; dunk the miscreant!” You know what words people really don’t use enough? Dithering and miscreant. Let’s do something about that!
Teds of the world, how do you feel about this tradition? I think it sounds awesome, but then again, I’m a Jessica. I get to be the cooler Wakefield twin. Ted gets to be that annoying animated teddy bear and now must suffer this indignity as well. Rough life, Teds of the world.
Ted talked to all of the other Teds in Pawnee and tells Leslie it’s about time these outdated laws are changed. Pawnee rules are so hilariously specific: White men can buy any Indian property for 25 cents; if a lady raises her voice to a white, landowning male, he gets to smash an egg in her face. However! A quick Googling reveals that these fictional laws aren’t that much weirder than some real laws in Indiana. For instance, mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans. Do you realize what this means? According to the laws of Indiana, RON SWANSON IS A CRIMINAL. Uh-oh. I mean, I feel like he isn’t too worried about it, so I guess we can just move on.
Leslie agrees that it’s time to get the obsolete laws off the books. As you likely saw in the video clip Parks released as a teaser, Patton Oswalt filibusters: “I’d now like to share some ideas I have for J.J. Abrams’s seventh chapter in the Star Wars saga.” It is amazing.
Post-filibuster, he accuses Leslie of having no respect for Pawnee tradition. HOW DARE HE?! Obviously the solution to this standoff is another standoff. Who can live longer in the Pawnee historical house, playing by 1817 rules? Given how things were going for the ladies back in the early 1800s, I’m not so sure this is the smartest plan Leslie Knope has ever had, but what do I know — I’ve never been Employee of the Fortnight.
Let’s take a second to cherish this image of Leslie in old-timey clothes. The enormous skirt! That bonnet! Those ruffles on the apron! I want Leslie to be my Oregon Trail avatar on the condition that she can never get cholera and also that the oxen will always ford the river. She even has era-appropriate pajamas! But she is no match for the deeply devoted Garth. The thing is, Garth can get his 1817-LARPing on because he has nothing better to do, a.k.a. he is friendless and the only e-mails he gets are spam. (“Is he a ghost?” Tom wonders, which I think is a pretty great conclusion to jump to when somebody doesn’t get a single e-mail for twelve days.)
Leslie invites Garth to join the Pawnee Historical Society, and he accepts, even though they’ve yet to return ONE of his complaints about the anachronistic fonts in their newsletter. Leslie updates the laws of Pawnee. As for the dunkable citizens: At ease, Teds! The new dunkees shall only be those who volunteer as tribute. This time around, that meant Garth and, for some reason, naked Andy. Huzzah, the day is mine!
It’s time for the Chris Traeger Management Seminar! Acronym: CTMTS. Pronunciation: Kuhtumps. April’s attendance is mandatory, and when Ron tries to get her out of it — “Normally, given the choice between doing something and doing nothing, I choose to do nothing. But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing.” — he inadvertently reveals to Chris that he has never been CTMTSed himself. All onboard the management train! First stop: Motivation Station. How great are these conductor caps? Conductor caps + old-fashioned bonnets = hats are winning this episode for sure.
Issue one: how to motivate one’s underlings. Chris uses smiles. Ron believes there are only three ways to motivate a worker: money, food, and fear. (Was anyone else surprised he didn’t mention sex? For someone with a self-proclaimed “epic” history in bed/someone who has made all of his worst life decisions because of the seductive power of the Tammys, it seems like something he’d remember to include.) Chris and Ron must battle for April’s soul, or her spirit blood will be on their hands. Time to experiment on Jerry!
Chris’s cheeriness appears to be doing the trick, until Ron comes over and knocks Jerry’s food out of his hand: “You’ll eat when you’re finished. FILE!” End results: Jerry filed 384 blue (Ron) files and only 68 red (Chris) files. BUT almost all of the blue files were filed incorrectly. Another fascinating edition of CTMTS!
Meanwhile: April was tricking everyone so she could get out of the seminar. “It’s my favorite kind of battle. Two men enter. One me leaves.” April spelling out her elaborate plot and planting it in the envelope reminds me of that bit on 30 Rock from “Double-Edged Sword” with Jack and Liz — “‘You will hand me an envelope predicting my joke about Nags Head.’ That is solid.” — but isn’t any less funny for being familiar comedic territory.
Save the Dates
Leslie celebrates the anniversary of every landmark in her relationships with a thoughtful gift exchange. Ann is trying to win a waffle iron from J.J.’s on eBay for Breakfast Day, but “TallTyrionLannister” keeps outbidding her. Donna explains the excellence of Game of Thrones by saying that “everyone on that show can get it.” Would I watch a GoT/P&R crossover wherein Donna and Jaime Lannister team up to win the Iron Throne, lording over the Seven Kingdoms with style, bravery, and all-around hotness? Yes, yes I would.
TallTyrionLannister is none other than Ben Wyatt, who needs the iron for Waffle Day. Ann — or should I say, FutureMrsTigerWoods — confronts him while someone else swoops in and buys the waffle iron at the last second. Ann asks Ben to use some Lannister magic to get it back. Ha! Lannister magic. The Lannisters don’t have magic, Ann. Gosh. Seriously I hope Leslie gets this chick HBO for the next Calendar Day.
Ben and Ann find the waffle iron at the pawn shop. After trying to sell Ben a gun with no reason, delay, or background check (someone’s been hanging out at the Senate), Pawn Shop Guy sells this dynamic duo the iron for $500. Upon presenting Leslie their joint gift, Ben and Ann negotiate the number of anniversary celebrations down to one week per pair plus a third week, known as Friendship Week, to commemorate, as Leslie describes, “when my best friends became best friends.”
Out with the old traditions and in with the new! What a beautiful sentiment. As for DONNA WATCH, she got play in not one but two major story lines and did some of my favorite things: mocking Jerry and getting real about quality television.
Don’t worry, you dithering miscreants. I’ll never forget our Recap Day. It’s September 21, and I will accept butter as a gift, so long as you churned it by hand in the Pawnee Historical House.