Look, we’re not saying that the writers of Parks and Recreation are so locked in right now that they’re able to supernaturally divine ripped-from-today’s-headlines gags in scripts that were written months ago. But you gotta admire that midway through this episode, Leslie Knope stares into the camera and begs Jennifer Aniston to “stay away from John Mayer.” It’s called a hot streak.
Swept up by the romantic fallout from Galentine’s Day breakfast (“It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst, plus frittatas”), Justin — and to a far lesser degree, Leslie — becomes obsessed with finding Frank, the lifeguard Leslie’s mom had a whirlwind two-week affair with when she was 18. Locating him in Illinois turns out to be simple enough, but once Leslie meets her new potential poo-paw, she has immediate regrets. Frank (a sublimely clammy John Larroquette) is unemployed and unemployable, a bundle of nerves who shows Leslie a naked photo of her mom and throws up, and that’s before they even get in the car to drive back to Pawnee. It’s easy enough to center an episode around Leslie being dunderheadedly wrong — that’s some season-one shit. It’s far more clever that her regrets are wholly justified and that Justin turns out to be the stooge.
Of course, this being a Valentine’s Day episode, relationship subplots all receive ample attention. The seniors dance at the Pawnee rec center provides a poignant backdrop, soundtracked by Andy’s band Mouse Rat, which is forced to play standards instead of awesome-sounding originals like “Sex Hair.” Tom finally lets Wendy know how he really feels (“Think about how much better our friendship would be if we added doing it”), and when that doesn’t work, he tries suing her for alimony. Decked out in a tux with a red bow tie, Mark showers Ann with every Valentine’s Day cliché gift he can find, still amazed he has a real girlfriend. Which he may not for much longer: She doesn’t do clingy, even if it’s faux-clingy. (Okay, hot streak aside, there are still some growing pains. Doesn’t it seem like a bit of a bait and switch to learn that straight-arrow Mark is such a mess that he doesn’t own towels or shampoo? Either those are leftover Andy jokes or Ann really has a type.) Meanwhile, if Ann’s impressed with the newly stable-ish Andy, that’s not lost on April, who even breaks up with her gay boyfriend and his boyfriend.
Still, though, we gotta hear “Sex Hair.”