Parks and Recreation Recap: Treat Yo Self 2017 (!)

Photo: NBC/2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Parks and Recreation
Episode Title
Save JJ’s
Editor’s Rating

Donna is getting hitched, everybody! This woman is such a catch. I assume all the gentlemen in greater Indiana are drowning in pools of their own tears, Alice in Wonderland–style, at the thought of this gem being taken off the market. But wedding planning is only so important in the face of the greatest gift of all: Treat Yo Self 2017! Joe, Donna’s husband-to-be, doesn’t understand TYS2017. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that Donna never told the man with whom she wants to spend the rest of her life about the single most important day of the year. I do know what to make of Donna’s shimmery, hot-pink top, however — it is fantastic. (I feel like, in some other plane where fictional universes collide, Donna Meagle and Mindy Lahiri would be perfect shopping buddies.)

Tom and Donna have been in that car a long time. Because Tom and Donna aren’t just going to the mall. Tom and Donna are going to BEVERLY HILLS. Tom may have invented the position of butler of honor for Donna’s wedding, so I’m not entirely sure what that job entails, but I’m confident that he is crushing it. 

At the end of the day, Tom takes Donna to a restaurant where “all the sushi is made from fish previously owned by celebrities.” Donna’s gift to Tom, in addition to the shoes Jayden wore in Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch, is dating advice: “Be a man and ask her out!” Tom doesn’t want to make it weird with Lucy, and I think he’s actually being pretty mature about the whole thing, considering he’s her boss and she just broke up with her boyfriend. Still Donna insists: “When it comes to matters of the heart, I say, treat yo self.”

Back on the home front, Gryzzl is facing a PR disaster as the residents of Pawnee rebel against the company's obvious violations of all decency and privacy. To make it up to everyone, Gryzzl decides to throw a free concert featuring U2 and Beyoncé. “Seating is going to be organized by income and sexual history, and that, I swear, is the last time we will be peeking inside your computers.” Leslie thinks this is the time to strike; now Gryzzl is vulnerable and might be more open to a two-state solution, so to speak, of the Newport land. Ron is less convinced. Though he is not a spy — one more time, in case you didn’t know, Ron is not a spy — he knows that the Gryzzl bros, much like the boys of O-Town, want it all or nothing at all. I’m not the only one making totally relevant and necessary boy-band references around here: Leslie says she and Ron are “like Joey Fatone and Lance Bass — totally N*SYNC! Emotionally! Stop patting my head.” 

[Siren emoji] THIS JUST IN [Siren emoji]: Jessica has an announcement from the Newport Trust: Gryzzl upped their offer to $125 million, “so we are officially jumping the gun and selling to Gryzzl! Let me repeat that, because it makes me very horny.”

One of the things I admire most about Parks is when they pull these Homeland-style plot moves and skip straight to what would be, for most shows, the resolution/climax of an episode (or better, a whole season). Instead of building up forever to, say, a wedding or an election result coming in or a baby, Parks just goes for it faster than you’d ever expect, which just makes the stories that much more interesting.

Everyone gathers at JJ’s to try to heal the pain through breakfast food — never a bad idea — and Leslie laments her fate: “All I wanted was 25 square miles of land valued at 100 million dollars given to me for free. Is that so much to ask?” Here we find out another tragedy: JJ’s has been sold! Did we know that? Did I miss that?! Feels like it’s coming out of nowhere, but my love of “everybody get together and save the beloved local institution” plots is well documented, so no complaints here. Turns out the diner was purchased by one Thigh Gap LLC (ugh, please tell me that’s not still happening in 2017), which is owned by douchey cologne guy Dennis Feinstein. 

Leslie needs an outlet for her energy, and since she can’t focus on the Newport land, she decides instead to fight the good fight to save JJ’s with a good old-fashioned public rally. She calls upon Ron, “a man who knows the value of things staying the same,” to speak to the crowd. Though Ron insists that he does not like any of the humans before him, “what I do like is breakfast food. JJ’s has very good breakfast food so it should remain open. Please do not approach me on the street after this event and attempt to talk to me. Our similarities begin and end with this single issue. Ron Swanson.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Karate — serious-minded brother of Johnny Karate, also played by Andy — is taking on Dennis Feinstein. Look at that army of tiny ninjas! So cute! Dennis is unfazed, however. He’s going to turn JJ’s into an elbow-art salon (???), and everybody get out of there before he sprays his scent: “Not to brag, but my colognes have been known to stunt human growth.” The adults outside aren’t so lucky to get a warning; Dennis releases the Hounds, a Sex Panther–esque cologne that was rejected by the FDA. Water makes it worse. 

So they can’t save JJ’s, at least not where it is — but, as April points out, there are plenty of open buildings in the neighborhood where she and Andy just moved. “They’re all super cheap because they’re empty and disgusting.” It’s Beachview Terrace, “the sad, unsalvageable, broken-down armpit of Pawnee,” a district owned by the useless Councilman Dexhart. They do end up finding a building in “Medicalwaste Buttsweat Grove.” As April says, in her Stefonesque way, “This place has everything: vermin, bullet holes, a hornet’s nest.” JJ points out that nobody respectable lives in this part of town anymore.

Then Leslie and Ron communicate entirely in fragments and ESP. They share a brain, finishing each others’ silent sentences. It is glorious. If they can do three months of work in five days, Leslie says, “We can rescue JJ’s Diner, we can establish a new national park, and we can save Pawnee forever.” Sounds like a plan! 

The deal, as Leslie and her team present it to Gryzzl: Gryzzl moves their campus to this now-decrepit but structurally sound neighborhood in Pawnee. (All the buildings come pre-graffitied, so they wouldn’t even have to hire Banksy.) They could donate the Newport land to the National Park Service and “get baller tax breaks,” not to mention the priceless good PR they desperately need. Leslie plays her genuine devotion to public service card: “If you’re going to set up shop here, you need to make a covenant with the city.”

Cool, but it’s almost 4:20, and Roscoe has to talk to a ton of people who are all shrooming super hard at Coachella right now.

Later that night, three hours after he finds out from Roscoe that Gryzzl agreed to the deal, Ron tells Leslie that they got their land after all. He knew it would work out. “A wise woman once told me that whenever you and I team up, good things happen.” Ron goes for the handshake, she leaps in for the hug. “I do not approve of this,” says Ron. I do! I approve of it very, very much.

A few other things:

  • Poor Tom, trying to play it cool with Lucy and accidentally backpedaling way too far: “Text me when you decide. I literally couldn’t care less.”
  • “That was a joke cake I got from the grocery store to weed out low-quality palates!”
  • Leslie, on the changing nature of Pawnee: “There’s too much kale now! One place asked if I wanted kale in my milk shake. [tears slowly pouring out of her eyes] My milk shake, guys.”
  • “It’s called constructing a narrative, JJ. You stick to the breakfast; I’ll deal with the politics.”
  • “Occasionally on my show we deal with real issues, like bullying or holding in farts.”
  • I love the ridiculous treatments Donna and Tom get, including “Basic Elbow Bedazzling” and the callback to “Lasik for fingernails,” which costs $275.
  • Josh Groban is eating his own sushi!
  • “Is this paper? Super throwback.”