Parks and Rec Recap: ‘Bowling for Votes’

Since the get-go, Leslie Knope’s City Council campaign has been plagued by scandals, but this time around, she’s finally found a controversy that may actually benefit her. Here’s a list of fiascos that Leslie has been involved in since deciding to seek a City Council seat:

  • Participating in a secret romance with Ben, a fellow city employee
  • Bribing another city employee to keep her relationship with Ben a secret
  • Holding a disastrous PR stop at an ice-skating rink
  • And the latest: Her boyfriend/campaign manager Ben punching a voter in the face
  • While these previous gaffes have hurt Leslie’s campaign and caused her to lose support from voters, Ben defending her honor by socking a citizen named Derek in the face seems to be having a positive effect in terms of how voters view Leslie. The trouble begins when Leslie eavesdrops on a focus group and hears Derek (played by longtime Late Night with Conan O’Brien writer/performer Kevin Dorff) say he doesn’t think she’s someone with whom he could go bowling. Leslie responds in an overboard fashion typical to Leslie Knope by organizing a campaign event at a bowling alley, with her only intention being to get Derek to like her. Leslie’s competitiveness gets the best of her, as it often does, and she provokes Derek into insulting her, prompting Ben to fly off the handle.

    Ben’s such a sweet and low-key guy, and we’ve seen how long Andy had to provoke him to get a rise out of him in this year’s Halloween episode, “Meet ‘n’ Greet.” It’s  nice to find out what finally causes Ben to snap. Andy could have saved a lot of time when he was trying to anger Ben at the Halloween party if he had just called Leslie Knope a bitch .

    Elsewhere in Pawnee, most of the show’s supporting players (April, Andy, Chris, Jerry, and Donna) are busy working the phone bank for Leslie’s campaign. Chris is his typical jovial self, his spirits only raised by the fact that he’s planning on asking his girlfriend/Jerry’s daughter, Millicent Gergich, to move in with him. Chris’s plans are thwarted when Millicent tells him she wants to split up, thus putting an end to the “Chris is dating Jerry’s daughter” arc. I say “good riddance” to that storyline as it never quite did it for me. Sure, Chris is a complete weirdo, but he’s also a really good guy who Jerry should have been happy to have date his daughter. For this reason, I never really bought Jerry being so upset about their relationship, and Chris frequently rubbing the romance in Jerry’s face always felt out of character to me. Even if Jerry didn’t like Chis dating his daughter, it’s not something that’s not nearly as bad any part of the constant string of misfortunes in Jerry’s life.

    I’d be remiss not to mention Ron Swanson and Tom Haverford’s tiny C-story, about Ron becoming jealous and frustrated with Tom’s surprisingly effective “granny-style” bowling technique. Some of the funniest moments in the episode come from this minute chunk of it, although it doesn’t – nor does it intend to - carry the same emotional wallop the bigger plotlines do.

    With only a few months to go before Leslie’s campaign hits the home stretch, Leslie’s showdown with her only competitor Bobby Newport (played by Paul Rudd) is right around the corner. Here’s hoping that Ben liked the feeling of punching that bowling guy so much that he turns into a rage-aholic and beats up Paul Rudd during the final debate.

    Bradford Evans is glad to see Champion the three-legged dog make a return appearance. He’s the new Li’l Sebastian.

    Parks and Rec Recap: ‘Bowling for Votes’