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Parks and Recreation Recap: Welcome Back, Ice Clown!

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Partridge" Episode 517 -- Pictured: (l-r) Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate, Jon Glaser as Councilman Jamm, Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

For a show that usually basks in how much its characters love each other, Parks and Rec took us through a conflict-ridden episode this week. Ron does battle with Councilman Jamm and the American justice system. Leslie wages war with the mayor of Partridge and Fred the Sled. Ben dukes it out with his past and also a kidney stone. April fights what I imagine is every instinct in her body as she tries to tell the truth and do something nice. So, did our warriors emerge with their shields or on them?

Swanson vs. Jamm: Round Two
An unofficial rule of television is this: If something spectacular happens to a beloved character, an equal and opposite thing is bound to strike that character down. Just as Carrie Mathison solves the mystery of Abu Nazir’s “fallow yellow” period, she gets electroshocked over the cuckoo’s nest and forgets all about it. Buffy and Angel have sex; Angel morphs into a soulless psychokiller. And when Ron Swanson clocks Councilman Jamm in the jaw at Ben and Leslie’s wedding, he too must pay the price. The price in this particular case is $46 million. Yup, Ron Swanson got subpoenaed by Councilman Jamm. Personally, I would like to subpoena whoever decided to spell “subpoena” in this bogus way, but that’s a project for another time.

“We should sue Jamm’s parents for spawning a human turdburger,” says April. Would that it were possible, April! Ron takes it (mostly) in stride. “I’ll represent myself, as I do in all legal matters and livestock auctions.”

Tom, April, and Andy are prepared to defend Ron to the death/end of the day. But Jamm has a formidable legal team. “Those are Jean-Ralphio’s lawyers,” says Tom. “He once got $60,000 because he got too scared in a haunted house.” April and Tom handle the situation like grown-ups, which is to say they lie about everything. April insists Ron would never injure anyone — “The guy’s like a vegetarian” OH NO SHE DIDN’T — and that his nickname around the office is “Softypants McHuggable.”

Instead of being grateful for their admittedly inaccurate and therefore illegal testimony, Ron calls Tom and April out on their lies. “There’s only one thing I hate more than lying, and that’s skim milk. Skim milk is water that is lying about being milk.” Interesting theory, Ron. I’m disappointed in this whole recanting-the-testimony idea until we get … flashbacks! What are the flashbacks, you ask? Oh, just Tom’s multiple recollections of Ron daydreaming aloud about how lovely it would be to punch Jamm in the face.

Ron’s closing argument consists of calling Jamm “incredibly frail,” explaining the context of Jamm’s douchiness at the wedding, and dropping the mike with: “I regret nothing. The end.”

Because Ron is looking guilty as charged, April, Andy, and Tom go to Jamm’s office and bring a little FRONTIER JUSTICE. (Not to be confused with Philly justice, of course.) They’ve found eleven lies in Jamm’s testimony, not to mention Tom’s mysterious, invisible, yet Über-painful injuries.

Jamm backs down and calls his representation. Only one thing left to say, and Jamm says it. “We got jammed.”

Ice Town may have melted, but grudges are forever.
Lest we forget, before Ben became the Batsuit-wearing object of Leslie’s affection, he was the teenage mayor of Partridge. He basically wrecked the place with his failed winter sports complex, Ice Town. Ben left his hometown in shame — but redemption is within reach! Like all former mayors before him, Ben has been invited to receive a key to the city.

Leslie has brought a “Questions for Stephanie” binder so as to properly interrogate Ben’s sister, played by Annabeth Gish. The first question is Dr. Sullivan, did A put you up to this? “Who were Ben’s high-school girlfriends, and what base do you think he go to?” Ben is so nervous about his speech that he keels over in the bathroom and cries out in pain, “I THINK I’M GIVING BIRTH!” And at first I’m like, Whoa, that’s a cool direction for the show to take, very sci-fi, and also, I mean, Ann wants a baby so if Ben gets pregnant, what will that do to their friendship dynamic?

Then it turns out that Ben has a kidney stone. Gross/ouch.

If any children are reading this recap, please know that I am not condoning recreational drug use when I say that Ben on morphine is amazing. We should just go for it. Life! He tells Leslie that she is like a snuggerdoodle. Would I watch a buddy comedy about Softypants McHuggerton and Snuggerdoodle? Free idea, people!

Leslie leaves Ben at the hospital to accept the key on his behalf. Partridge’s mayor, a.k.a. J. K. Simmons/Juno’s dad, accuses Ben of having “acute wimping out” for being a no-show. His introduction is also … not the nicest thing ever. “The city has finally healed from the festering wound of Ice Town,” he says, as the poster unfurls to announce: “Welcome back Ice Clown.” Ben thinks the universe is love. Leslie knows better. The mayor hands Leslie the box with the “key,” but oops, the key was made of ice, and it melted, “much like the hopes and dreams of the people of Partridge.”

Even though Leslie allows that Ben is not as great as Judy Garland, she does find a way to work “He has a calcified rock in his penis!” into her go-screw-yourselves speech, and isn’t that what love is all about?

Later, when Ben recovers and sees the universe for what it truly is (spoiler alert: not love), Leslie says that the real key has been inside him all along. For those of you playing along at home, that’s the second Judy Garland reference of the night. The newlyweds pay a visit to City Hall. Downside: The mayor is still being a dick, and he refuses to give Ben a key. Upside: Ben, now high on painkillers, tries to give food to a bronze statue. “I’m feeding your eagle,” he explains. “It’s starving.”

Other upside: Leslie swiped a key to the city when the mayor wasn’t looking. Ben symbolically throws it in a lake because he’s a Pawnee man now, and then they get chased outta town for littering. Those two.

Parental Discretion Advised
Potential parents-to-be Ann and Chris take a compatibility quiz and only score 58 percent. Ann isn’t satisfied with their awful grade, so she attempts all these other trials: egg babies (that she accidentally left at the supermarket), a ceramic mug (that Chris drops, shatters), and an interview (they tank it so badly, the interviewer asks if they’re “complete strangers”).

Ann feels dismissed. Rejected. Publicly humiliated. Why, it’s more than she can bear! But Chris has a new, one-question quiz. “Will you love our child and work hard to see that he or she has a good life?” They both say yes! Chris is certain that Ann will literally be the world’s best mom.

Bets on how many episodes it takes before these kids make out? Leave your predictions in the comments; winner gets a gold star and the rights to my Softypants and Snuggerdoodle sitcom.

DONNA WATCH
When Donna and Jerry have the same amount of screen time, all is not well in Pawnee. Other than the fact that I’m suffering from Donna deficiency, this was a quality episode. That’s the truth, even though the truth is stupid. I only tell the truth when it sounds like I’m lying.

Photo: NBC/2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC