Parks and Recreation Recap: Cookie Tush

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC

We open on a plot point that I had a hard time believing the first time around, and I’m still comically rubbing my eyes about: Tom and Anne dating. Tom, who has really developed his adorably annoying nineties R&B character quite nicely, is running some possible nicknames by Anne. Some highlights include Booboobear, Annberry Sauce, Lady PreshPresh, Annie Get Your Boo — but my favorite is probably Cookie Tush. Anne desperately wants Tom to play it cool, but he’s instead begging to change his Fakebook (it’s not Facebook, but it’s supposed to be!) status to “In a relationship,” but settles on “It’s complicated.” And we’re back.

Meanwhile, Leslie and Ben have stopped by to visit Chief of Police Chief Trumple, who is retiring soon. We are treated to Ben’s hysterical terror of cops, which manifests itself in him trying to play it way too informal, and alternately bringing up 9/11. Trumple invites them to his retirement party that night, and as they’re leaving, they run into Dave (LOUIE CK!) Sanderson, Leslie’s ex who moved to San Diego. Louie seems to have invented a new type of dialogue, the socially awkward coptalk, and I love it. He’s a shade of his character from Louie, plus words like romantical and pertinent. Leslie feels guilted into inviting him to dinner with her and Ben, but she’s hoping Dave will endorse Ben while Trumple endorses her, leading to the Ashley Judd movie Double Endorsement. (Watch for Ben’s startled reaction when he almost runs into a cop in the parking lot!)

In campaign land, Andy has decided that the best way he can contribute is by writing an amazing campaign song for Leslie, “Catch Your Dreams,” and he wants the rest of the team to lay down backing vocals. They get to the recording studio, where April finds Ron trying to destroy all evidence of his alter ego Duke Silver, since this is where Duke records. (Duke, I’ve missed you!) April agrees to help Ron keep his secret, which was revealed to her in past seasons. While the team is preparing to sing, Ann realizes that EVERYONE knows about her and Tom, and she is furious. So far, I haven’t seen any real evidence of Ann actually liking Tom, other than a moment or so in the Valentine’s Day episode. Who spoons whom, you know?

At dinner that night, when Ben excuses himself to go to the Whiz Palace, or Whizingham Manor, Dave reveals that he’s still in love with Leslie. Leslie panics. When Ben returns, Dave decides he’s going outside and says to Leslie, “You look like I could use some company,” which she politely refuses. Dave walks away from the table alone, and one of my favorite moments of this episode comes when he returns to the table while Leslie is explaining the situation to Ben. Ben points at Leslie’s plate and stutters “I know that’s … I know!” Perfect.

In the recording studio, we’re finally seeing the one thing that pisses Andy off, and it’s musical imperfection. He berates the team for being terrible at their backing vocals (a turn-on for April), suggests tea with honey for their vocal cords (April smashes the Duke Silver mug), and then asks them to sing individually, which is how we get to learn that Chris is a truly dreadful singer. Tom is still coming on too strong with Ann, and when he brings in flowers, she breaks up with him on the spot, and he walks outside into the pouring rain.

Back at the restaurant, Dave asks to talk to Leslie alone, which she refuses, and Ben asks to talk to Dave alone, which he refuses, leading to an adorable exchange of who’s going to talk to whom, and when, and in what order, which just confuses everyone. Dave and Ben end up in the men’s bathroom, where Dave handcuffs Ben to a urinal (“You contraran me”), and then tells Leslie that he left after saying that he doesn’t respect Leslie as a woman. Ben immediately calls Leslie from the bathroom, and when questioned about what he thought would happen, Dave says he thought he’d cuff Ben to have time to speak to Leslie, and that he and Leslie, reunited, would uncuff Ben together.

At the retirement party, Leslie explains to Dave that she and Ben are in love (“He punched a guy that called me a bitch!”), and Dave reluctantly understands. Meanwhile, Ben is trying to act normal around all the cops, but they must be aware that he’s nervous, because they all reach for their guns when he pulls Leslie’s campaign material out of his pocket. Ben gets Leslie the endorsement, and Leslie celebrates by endorsing ten beers to her mouth.

We find the rest of the team still at the recording studio, and Andy is frustrated with how hard the process seems to be. Ron encourages him to take a walk and then gives a knowing nod to the studio producer. Tom, who’s been waiting outside in the rain for a romantic scene, comes back in when he realizes Ann’s not coming after him. He’s gotten all his romantic ideas from movies, and even when Ann’s still furious, he asks for her help getting out of these wet clothes.

Andy returns to listen to the song again, and surprise, now it’s got some sexy saxophone on it, and Andy loves it. Ron’s work here is done — we’re all going to “Catch Your Dreams”! Tom comes on strong with Ann one more time, singing in proper Color Me Badd fashion about how he could be the boo of her dreams. “Dude,” she responds, “you wore me down,” which is the Ann version of agreeing to go on another date with him. I think they could be cute together, but I’m going to need to see some grown and sexy Tom hitting on a grown and receptive Ann before I’m ready to believe it.

And I need more from Donna than just a wicked arm dance upon hearing the campaign song. I’m campaigning for more Donna in 2012!!

Parks and Recreation Recap: Cookie Tush