Parks and Recreation
For those of you wondering when the stress of Leslie running a campaign and working at the Parks Dept would get to her, wonder no more: it’s now.
We open on Manic Leslie, who has come up with an elaborate system of looking at campaign stuff one step outside the building, and work stuff one step inside the building. April foils it by locking her out.
Ron, ever the sensible one, pulls Leslie aside and informs her that she’s working 50 hours a week for work, and 50 hours a week on her campaign, and that she must take a sabbatical. Leslie protests, insisting that she even has free time for Wheels for Meals on Wheels (“we repair the vans for Meals on Wheels”), but Ron is unimpressed, and calls her out for the sweater she’s worn four days in a row that has a lollipop stuck to the back of it.
Now it’s time to check in with the most unlikely of couples, Tom and Anne. Tom has gotten himself and Anne matching Kangol hats (you know, the ones that Samuel L. Jackson wears) that say “Tom” and “Tommy’s Girl.” Anne requests that he burn the hats and then throws one in his face, again prompting me (as well as most of you, I’m sure) to wonder why these two are together at all. They have the contempt of a couple that’s been together for 30 years. Tom asks April for advice on his love life, which is a bad move, as April doesn’t care about them, “… or anyone.”
Jerry comes into the office wearing a horrid-looking shirt, which he got for his birthday. His birthday is unusual in two ways: (1) it’s on February 29th, so he only gets to celebrate every four years, and (2) Leslie forgot it. Leslie immediately sends Jerry away and launches into a plan to throw Jerry a Sweet Sixteen Surprise Party. Where will it be held? Donna’s lake house! Wait, what? Yup, apparently Donna’s family has a lake house, and it comes with rules. Lots of them.
When the gang arrives at the house, Tom notices pictures of Donna with Ginuwine of “Pony” fame, and it turns out Ginuwine is her cousin. (If you are not familiar with the song “Pony”, please stop reading this and listen to it.) Anne doesn’t know who Ginuwine is, which horrifies Tom and causes him to rethink his romance. He has a list of “Oh no-nos” for girls he’s dating, and not loving ‘90s R&B is #3 on that list.
It’s almost time for the party, and Leslie freaks when she realizes that no one has invited Jerry, and then realizes that it was her job. She and Ron drive to Jerry’s house and find him in a bubble bath with a cheese plate, a novel, and some wine. They make up an emergency to get him to join them, and are heading to the lake house when Leslie notices that her new campaign sign, instead of being the image she sent off to the printers, is instead the written-out JPG file of that image. They make a quick stop at the printers, where a deadly serious Walter insists he only prints what it says on the order, followed by reading out the entire JPG file name to Leslie.
Champion check-in time! April and Andy recently left their three-legged wonder dog Champion with Chris while out of town, and in that time, Chris got Champion his shots, got him groomed, exercised him, and took a dog obedience course with Champion … in German. Andy seems dismayed that a dog would ever need to do such a thing, while Chris demonstrates how Champion can do all sorts of stunts … in German. Andy attempts to bark German-sounding commands to Champion, but nothing happens. Figures. Andy goes to take Champion for a walk, but when he starts pulling, Andy goes to let him off the leash. Chris appears out of nowhere and warns him to stop, but Andy insists that “leashes are just for dogs that bite people.” Sure enough, he lets Champion go and he streaks off into the trees. Now we have a lost Champion.
Back at the lake house, Tom, in full freak-out mode, starts quizzing Anne on acceptable thread counts in sheets, which she fails. He tells April that he’ll have to break up with Anne, and April turns to alcohol. “Thank you alcohol.” April tipsily blabs to Anne that Tom may dump her, and Anne freaks, insisting that she’ll be the dumper, not the dumpee. Tom and Anne start fighting about all the reasons they are terrible for each other “You have an IPad 1!” “You have 20-inch rims on your VW Golf!” and April, now drunk, breaks them up by insisting they’re fighting about dumb things.
By the time Ron, Leslie, and Jerry arrive at the lake house, a rudely awakened Ben is the only one to greet them, as everyone else is either asleep or looking for Champion. Andy confesses that he’s not a good pet owner, but Chris assures him he is, and when Andy sings to Champion in a growly ‘90s voice, Champion returns! (Of course, it was really just Chris blowing a dog whistle, but who cares?)
Now the party is on. Leslie asks for positive Jerry stories and people are stumped until Tom volunteers that he and Anne are back together because why not, and also reveals their couple name is Tanne. Anne counters this immediately, and then Donna asks why there’s a pet in her lake house when it’s against the rules. Chris makes a statement, inadvertently, about how lonely he is, and Ron saves the moment by stating that Jerry’s work is adequate. Then Leslie passes out on Jerry.
The next morning, Ron takes Leslie out for a talk, and through a story about working in factories that has a perfect example of “things that crack Ron Swanson up and only Ron Swanson,” insists that she stop half-assing both her jobs and start whole-assing her campaign. Leslie agrees to cut back her hours at work.
So we get a mega happy ending, with Anne and Tom happy together (behind close doors, lest we actually get to hear the conversations they have that aren’t fighting), Andy and April decide to loan Champion out to Chris, and the gang chips in to send Jerry and his wife to his favorite place. Amazingly, it’s Muncie, Indiana.