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Parks and Recreation Recap: Power Is Pizza

PARKS AND RECREATION -- "Second Chunce"

Happy 100th birthday, Parks and Rec! Unfortunately it’s not exactly a happy one for Leslie, whom we see on her last day as a city councilwoman. Her final hours in office mostly consist of initiating Ingrid (the always welcome Kristen Bell) while accidentally singing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” out loud. Ben wants to make things better because he loves Leslie so, but up until the end, his ideas are a little lacking. Which is kind of how I feel about this episode.

I’m sorry! I’m sorry to say that. No one wants to love Parks more than I do. I want to love everything about it all of the time every day forever. But much like the episode’s title, “Second Chunce” was just a bit … off.

Leslie’s barely been out of a job for 30 seconds when she sees Dexhart’s been up to his usual sluttery and decides she could run against him and win. The facial expressions of everyone in the Parks Department upon hearing her announcement sum up my feelings on that matter. Am I charmed by Leslie’s ransom-notes-as-campaign-posters? Of course. And this does set us up for Kathryn Hahn’s fantastic return and inspirational real-talk. But I would be lying if I said Leslie’s story didn’t drag on the way to that excellent conclusion. We all know she won’t run for city council again — only April thinks it’s a great idea, and only because she wants Leslie to turn into the Joker — so it’s frustrating to wait almost the whole episode for Leslie to come to a foregone conclusion.

I understand, Leslie. I do! Unemployment, you know? Not all it’s cracked up to be. You think it’s going to be all fun and games and pajamas all day and Netflix whenever you want, but you realize, if you’re Leslie Knope and definitely not anyone else to whom I might be referring, you need more from your life! MORE, I tell you! At least, you need more pajamas. And you need Netflix to add Justified to their streaming library so you can watch that guy who looks like a grown-up Tim Riggins sing hits from Justin Timberlake’s solo debut. (I assume that’s what the show is about.)

Needs. Leslie has them. And now she has Jen Barkley’s advice, too, just when she needed it most. You might not think the biggest dreamer in Pawnee would need to be told to dream bigger, but it takes Jen’s point-blank assessment of Leslie’s Campaign Take Two dreams (“It’s a terrible idea”) to snap Leslie out of her funk. “Be the woman who moves away, climbs the ladder, and confidently comes back and has sex with her high school English teacher just for kicks.” Well, well, well, someone’s been watching Pretty Little Liars.

As for the rest of the gang: “Andy has jet lag” is not the world’s most promising plot point, although I’m definitely getting “That’s my spaghetti, Chewbacca!” printed on a T-shirt. Raise your hand if you were surprised that Chris and Ann couldn’t make out Dr. Sapperstein’s handwriting. No one? Okay, moving on.

Tom’s life after Rent-a-Swag had more legs, story-wise. After Dr. Sapperstein’s lawyer clues him in to the power of the wealthy to delegate, Tom has an epiphany: “For years, I’ve been coming up with my own ideas like some poor idiot.” Now we get to see Tom invent a perfect-for-him job at the Parks Department: Pawnee’s new business liaison.  

Even though I wasn’t as in love with this episode as Ingrid is with her home away from home, which is in Zurich, I don’t want to linger in the darkness. That’s not the kind of recapping game I run. So, in the spirit of Carrie Underwood in milkmaid braids, here are a few of my favorite things from last night’s episode, in no particular order:

Councilman Dexhart’s sex scandal, code names
Dexhart engaged in texting, sexting, and tex-mexing, which is when you send photos of your junk from the bathroom of a Chili’s to Go. He went by the following aliases: Enrique Shotwave, Willie Dynamite, Lee Harvey Tea Bag, and Anthony Weiner.

April’s riff on money
“Money is power, power is pizza, pizza is knowledge, let’s go.”

Perd
“A recently unemployed woman said nothing of importance. I’m Perd Hapley, and I just realized I am not holding a microphone.” Never change, Perd.

Everything Jean-Ralphio said:
Jean-Ralphio hits on Ann, Ann says she’s pregnant.
Jean-Ralphio: The more the merrier.
Chris: It’s mine.
Jean-Ralphio: You can come, too, beautiful … I guess I’m open minded as heee-lllll! I think you’re pretty good-looking.
Chris [genuinely touched]: Thank you!

The return of Jen Barkley: political consultant
I would actually pay $1,200 to hear about her mother and her 19-year-old Korean boyfriend. Kathryn Hahn is such a national treasure that there’s a map to her house on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

Spontaneous trip to Paris
Sure, why not?

Donna’s wisdom
“Stay away from wine. Wine is crying juice.” Has Donna ever not been right about everything?

Leslie’s stages of grief
Including: Internet commenting, cat adopting, cat returning, not giving a flying fart.

Chris and Ann’s baby is already attractive
“That’s the most symmetrical fetus I’ve ever seen!”

Leslie continues her reign as best speech-giver on TV
“I will be heading to lunch today with my husband at J J’s Diner. We will eat waffles and then we will go home and make out on our couch. That is my future, for now. It’s been an honor to serve this town and I will cherish the memories forever.”

What did you all think? Have it out in the comments and holler at me on Twitter @Jessicagolds. You can trust me, because I do not care enough about you to lie.

Photo: Colleen Hayes/NBC