Let’s begin with a tip of the hat to Ben, who built a fantastic new website for the Parks De — oh my God, is that a panda? Peebo! If you click on the bamboo he puts on a top hat! Okay, good talk, gang. That’s all the recapping I’ll be doing for now; I have to go play ping-pong with this panda tail.
[several hours later]
Where were we? Oh. At ease, everyone (including me) who feared Leslie would not seriously follow up with Grant about his National Park Service job offer! We see Leslie meet with Grant over waffles so he can return her binder of questions about the job in exchange for … a second binder, with more questions about the job. A few important things about this encounter: First of all, I am forever going to order food in time increments now. (“Martha, I’m going to need two hours' worth of waffles.”) Leslie also makes my favorite analogy of the night: “This is like the Parks equivalent of Bruce Springsteen pulling Courteney Cox onstage!” And, thank goodness, we get a legitimate, compelling, and actually challenging roadblock between Leslie and this otherwise flawless-seeming opportunity: She would be “a big picture person,” far from the paperwork and drudgery she loves and knows so well, delegating from a position of power. What does this mean for Leslie’s dream of planting spotted jewelweed along the Red River bank in Arkansas? For a woman who spends many a Saturday night doing paperwork in bed listening to old Spice Girls CDs? Has she really pulled her last bloated raccoon carcass from a public fountain? To paraphrase the aforementioned Greatest Band of Our Generation or Any Generation for That Matter: What does Leslie want, what does she really, really want? (Zig a zig ahh.)
I’m so game for this obstacle. It’s absolutely true to who Leslie is, not to mention true to something we all experience in our professional lives: At a certain point, you realize that maybe the job you’re “supposed” to want is no longer as appealing once it’s within reach as it was when you admired it from afar. Maybe the hours suck, or the responsibilities aren’t interesting to you, or maybe you just decide that the job you want is the job you already have — but does that mean you’re some ambition-less slouch, or just someone who can recognize a good thing?
Ben’s test for Leslie: to delegate the damage control when the new slogan poll goes predictably awry. Why would Leslie ever think it’s a good idea to take a town poll for anything, ever? When has the Pawnee vox populi not been a crushing disappointment after Leslie attempts to entrust them with any kind of power? Our fair heroine never learns. This leads to kind of a lot of weirdly sexual talk about how to handle the situation (Ben: “Let’s sit back and take it easy.” Leslie: “We’re not going to do that. We’re going to sit forward and take it hard.”), a press junket with Perd and Joan-maybe-Juan, and a trip to Crazy Ira and the Douche, where a typical follow-up question is “SHOW US YOUR BOOBS.” (This reminds me of Rayna’s great Nashville line, “I had people yell 'Show me your boobs!' so many times, I would've thought it was a damn hit song.” You guys, Connie Britton and Amy Poehler for True Detective season two.) Leslie’s attempt to be cool, and the radio guys sometime-approval of her — “Backward hat, shows a real lack of respect for authority. I like that.” — is hilarious, as is her inability to not let her feminism slip through the cracks. “I never knew that objectifying women could be so much fun!”
As trouble is wont to do, the situation spirals out of control — Peebo is wearing a hat made of penises! — and Leslie must prove her willingness to delegate by letting Larry take the lead. Some sweet Pawnee resident offers up a misspelled version of: “When you’re here, then you’re home.” We have a winner! Everything works out. Except that the sign is installed the wrong way. But otherwise things basically work out. Leslie reveals her fear of failure to Ben, who responds in the most adorable way possible: “Leslie, I love you very much, but that’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said. You’re amazing and everyone’s going to be in awe of how amazing you are, so just shut your mouth.” [Cue make-out session.]
Watching Ben and Leslie’s romance always makes me feel like literal rays of sunshine are glowing out of my television screen and shining warm, springtime light all over me, so of course I love this, and the fact that Leslie has an elaborate fantasy wherein she is Julia Roberts and Ben is her cameraman husband.
In other heartwarming plot lines, April and Donna sabotage Tom’s search for a restaurant location because they like having him around too much to let him go. (They come around in the end; no one on Parks stays a bad person for more than 20 minutes. It’s essentially the inverse of Scandal, where even the good guys are monsters.) I’m still not sold on this particular business idea as the one that’s supposed to change Tom’s future. He said it himself: He can’t even cook. Aside from his appreciation of the finer suits in life, what exactly does Tom have in common with Sinatra? But I do enjoy seeing how strong these friendships have become. Look at the specificity of their gift-giving! Tom gives April a Larry voodoo doll, and April gives Tom watch cologne; it’s practically Knope-level attention to detail. I also loved what Donna had to say about the old sushi place in Eagleton (“You can’t outrun the whale police forever.”) and laughed embarrassingly hard at the scene in Jurassic Fork: “We opened another Steven Spielberg–themed restaurant downtown, Schindler’s Lunch.”
Not that I don’t enjoy a Duke Silver digression just as much as the next woman with undergarments to toss at an impossibly sexy jazz saxophonist, but aside from giving Ron and Andy something to do, I don’t see what purpose this story served. Worth it for all the Andy jokes, though: the banana peel on top of the saxophone case, his four car accidents, and how he immediately jumps to the “you have a twin brother” conclusion after seeing Duke perform. I was hoping Duke and Andy would start performing together, or maybe as a traveling duo — Andy entertains the kids while Duke plays for their moms in a warm bathtub full of his jazz — which could still happen!
Really, anything could happen now. I’m going to hand things over to Larry, who is 100 percent in charge.