This was an episode of Parks in which everything that sounds like the wrong thing to say was exactly the right thing to say. Leslie asks Ron if the Parks Department still needs her; he says, “No, we don’t.” Chris gets down on one knee and proposes to Ann; she says she doesn’t want to get married. Ron wins Pawnee’s Employee of the Month award; he takes his plaque into the woods and immediately burns and buries it.
I am not merely overjoyed. I am irritatingly ecstatic. What didn’t I like about this episode? As Chris might say: literally nothing! This was classic Parks, and it was all kinds of wonderful, so let’s get to it:
Don’t call it a comeback.
Naturally, Leslie insists on interviewing for her old job as Deputy Parks Director. No special treatment for her! Not when she has important insights to share. “The Ancient Greek version of the park was the agora … What are you writing, is it good?” Leslie gives up on the “don’t give me special treatment” jig after about 30 seconds, which I totally understand. I’ve got a doctor in my family, and every time I make a thing out of “being a grown-up” and “scheduling my own appointments,” I wind up spending, like, five hours the waiting room (a.k.a. the petri dish of my nightmares) reading the same four issues of Parents magazine and wishing I’d let those strings get pulled.
Leslie is back from city council, but a lot’s changed since she’s been gone. Still, she thinks she can just pick up where she left off, no problem. In her almost Regina George words: “I invented this parks game, son!”
We get some great plot continuity with the Spirit Dogs board — it doesn’t matter if you think you’re a cocker spaniel, Leslie; there is no appeals process — and you all know that Donna Watch is overjoyed to see our girl put to such hilarious use in two separate story lines.
Tom has a lemonade stand idea! This leads to my favorite bit of the night:
Tom: Can I get a what-what?
In terms of originality, “lemonade stand” is probably above “bake sale” but below “car wash,” but who cares, he downloaded this dope app that pops Champagne whenever he says something awesome. Leslie demands that Tom utilize the 80-step Leslie Knope Project Preparedness Super System. Tom believes the most important part of presentation is presentation. Point goes to Tom on this one, although I do support Leslie’s patented quote combo technique: you need two funny quotes and an inspirational one, a classic “Ha-ha, hmmm.”
Tom is out of control. And by “out of control,” I mean “has a great business plan and is cool under pressure.” But Leslie cannot sit idly by and watch good things happen. She goes to Stu and tells him what he needs to hear: screw bisque.
Ron, as Leslie’s voice of reason, talks her out of sabotage (and, it seems, out of ruining the rest of Stu’s life). Leslie realizes that she’s done such a great job with the Parks Department that it can, much to Ron’s dismay, function in her absence. And nothing can stop Tom’s epic laser show. I like Tom when he has his act together. I think he’ll be really impressive to his Doctors Without Borders honey, should Tatiana Maslany or one of her clones ever come back to town.
Also: An elk hair is the most effective hair for binder security. YOU KNOW THAT, RON.
No part of this is how I pictured it.
Look who decided to (Soda)pop the question! Maybe we should have known that Chris and Ann wouldn’t stay engaged, given that the whole thing was Larry’s idea — all the points to Chris’s reaction to Larry’s heartfelt speech: “That literally went on forever. I thought you would never stop talking” — but couldn’t tell whether or not this meant we were in for a fourth Very Special Wedding Episode until Ann took home her free locket.
I believe the couple Chris and Ann met at the jewelry store was plucked directly from all of our Facebook news feeds. You know who I’m talking about. Unless you are who I’m talking about, in which case, umm. Hi? Fancy running into you here! Looooved your Save the Date magnets.
This seemed like one of the first times we really got to see why Chris and Ann’s relationship works so well. Aside from gorgeousness gravity, I can’t say I’ve ever noticed compelling evidence as to why these crazy kids belong together forever. But their exchange about Grey’s Anatomy said it all for me. Peeing with the door open and never-ending roller coasters of emotion. That’s what love is all about, you guys.
I still sort of hope Chris and Ann get married, because I think it would be amazing if we met Chris’s family and, owing to the powers of stunt casting, Chad Lowe came to Pawnee to play his brother.
Like all sentient beings, Ben has a lot to learn from Mindy Kaling. Kaling is a boss (in, like, the cool, Bruce Springsteen way, and also in the literal, she is the boss of a bunch of people way). And she’s said that the hardest part of being the boss is that “I want to be part of the gang. I don't want to be the gang leader who has to stay on gang schedule and pay gang taxes.” But someone must pay gang taxes! Even Jesse Pinkman had to learn about the IRS that time, and he was a criminal, yo. Clearly Ben hasn’t done his Mindy-related required reading, so he must learn the hard way that trying to be “the cool boss” will only make you look like a total idiot and set you up to be pranked. You definitely cannot be both the cool boss and the hardass boss at the same time, although it is pretty entertaining to watch Ben try. I love that Ben’s idea of edgy bossdom involves “illegal” cheese from Paris.
I have to be truthful with you all: I really dislike pranks. In real life, I mean. I never get what’s so funny about them because they seem sort of cruel and terrifying. But watching Ben get pranked opened my eyes to the pranking possibilities (prankabilities?). Plus points for more plot continuity with Ben’s fear of police.
Even though Andy is just a Government Junior, he still encourages Ben to retaliate. Ben’s inability to proportionally prank (proporprank? Okay, I’ll stop now) the gang back reminds me of Winston on New Girl. Of course Ben, who is so anti-prank, accidentally gets carried away with prop bullet holes in his clothes and some complicated scuba sequence we’ll never get to see.
Leave all the other best quotes in the comments and send them to me on Twitter @Jessicagolds. There wasn’t room for me to list them all here, but I trust you to do your jobs.
And don’t worry: The bacon is safe, in the ceiling, where it belongs.