Parks and Recreation Recap: Thinking About the Future

Parks and Recreation

Halloween Surprise
Season 5 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

Parks and Recreation

Halloween Surprise
Season 5 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: NBC


For those of you who prefer inside voices: Ben and Leslie are engaged. For those of you who prefer pure punctuation: !!!!!!!!!!!!

Ben got down on one knee and started to pop the question, and he was stopped mid-pop by Leslie who wanted to soak it all in, and the camera zoomed out and they looked around the house — has anyone thought about real estate in Indiana? Because wow, that is some nice space, and check out those hardwood floors — and then zoomed back in and then “Leslie Knope, will you —” “YES!” *makeout break* *pause for air* “Marry me?” “Oh, yeah!”

Best. Proposal. Ever.

I don’t know about you, but I needed this romantic reassurance. I’ve been listening to the new Taylor Swift album and it is jam-packed with heartbreak. The only happy songs on there are about that Kennedy kid, and he and TSwift broke up two days ago. I was starting to worry: Does love even exist? What is love? How many girls with naturally curly hair watched the video for “Begin Again” and made the ill-advised decision to get those straight-across bangs?

But now, my faith is restored. I should have anticipated that this moment, if and when it arrived, would be (1) genuinely surprising, (2) the just-right amount of funny, and (3) so, so sweet. Unlike most shows, which play the “will they or won’t they?” card about couples over and over again or force love triangles on not-actually-triangular situations (everyone knows Damon is better than Stefan; that’s why Nina Dobrev is dating Damon IRL), P&R springs these relationship developments on us when we aren’t even on the lookout but at moments that, in hindsight, make perfect sense for the characters. April and Andy’s surprise wedding came out of nowhere — or so it seemed — and yet their marriage has been all kinds of lovely. And now this!

Can’t you already see Leslie’s massive party-planning binders filled with printouts from Pinterest? The completely over-the-top wedding website designed by Jean-Ralphio and Tom? The pre-aisle instant when Leslie gets cold feet and April, in a rare unguarded moment, tells the once and future Ms. Knope (she doesn’t strike me as the name-changing type) an insight about the beauty of married life to reassure her that she’s making the right decision? Do we think the reception will be held at the Smallest Park, site of one of my favorite Ben and Leslie scenes?

This episode was not an embarrassment of riches because I think that’s a stupid expression. An embarrassment of riches should be what you call it when someone who has too much money spends it in a way that makes you want to vomit, like a Kardashian. I prefer the expression “an awesomeness of riches.” For example, everything Jay-Z and Beyoncé do. This episode was an awesomeness of riches. Let’s review some highlights:

Ron is trying to child-proof … himself

Ron Swanson’s greatest foe is neither Man nor Beast; it is Girl. Or, more accurately, girls, Xena’s screaming spawn. When Ron and Andy tag along on the Xena family’s trick-or-treating outing, Xena reveals that her girls have been princess-obsessed for years. Playing against type, Xena claims to hate all things princess-related. (I guess I’d get sick of being a princess, too, if it involved what appear to be Ke$ha quantities of facial glitter.)  Ron’s solution to one girl’s broken tiara—to break the other so it’s “even”—is exactly what Ron would do and exactly the wrong thing to do. His sorry-I’m-not-sorry at the auction (“I’m not going to apologize. It wasn’t even a real tiara, for God’s sake”) just further demonstrates how Ron clearly has yet to learn that children, like drunk people and undecided voters, do not comprehend logic like the rest of us.

When Ron does apologize, he does so like an alien learning the ways of Earthlings for the first time. “I have brought you flowers,” he says robotically. “Also chocolates. And some grout cleaner.” Oh. Well. Baby steps.


In case you are not already following my hero, Donna, a.k.a. Retta Sirleaf, on Twitter, let me catch you up: Donna’s real life alter-ego has this stellar Twitter feed on which she hilariously live-tweets TV shows. I love that the writers decided to play that up in this episode, and I also wish I could read Donna’s tweets about “Death Canoe 4: Murder At Blood Lake.”

When that tool at the auction tells Donna she should’ve included “spoiler alert” with every tweet and tagged them as #NSFW because “there was a lot of profanity,” she gives him a smackdown (the movie is 25 years old, for starters) and then picks up her phone. “What are you doing?” he asks. Her reply: “I’m live-tweeting this dumbass conversation.”

If you ever, in a moment of darkness and confusion, forget why you love Donna so much, bookmark this page so you can read that again as a reminder.

Jerry’s Fart Attack

Are you still giggling about this? Because I am:

Jerry: (farting)
Aw geez, did a dinosaur just fart? Jerry, get a grip!
I’m sorry, you guys.
Apology NOT accepted!
Stop talking, moron.
I wish I could stop smelling.

It’s the simple things, you know? Also fun: Leslie’s heart-to-heart (attack) with Jerry in the hospital, in which he is overwhelmingly sincere and she is alternately loving and condescending (“And now your future is just a huge pile of crap”).

The Ann Auction / The Auction for Jerry’s Kids’ Dad

I kind of hoped Ann was going to get stuck dating tattoo guy and that he’d turn out to be a charming weirdo boyfriend, but I’ll let it go because, if nothing else, the auction introduced me to Perd’s book: The Thing About Me Is, I’m Perd Hapley. Better luck next time, Ann! As Leslie says, three out of four married couples have met each other at spontaneous auctions.

Hey, you know what makes that Leslie-ism even better? MARRIAGE-THEMED MISDIRECTION. Ben had a career-game-changer field trip to Florida — always lovely to see crowd favorite and Sodapop-ex-sex-buddy Kathryn Hahn—that was supposed to trick us into thinking he’d stay on the road indefinitely, but that whole not-plot has been eclipsed by the happy happy joy joy that was the last three minutes of this episode.

As much as I adore Sodapop and his genetically flawless face, I’m out of space to give him a blurb of his own. He did get in this amazing-yet-depressing line about his psychologist: “He holds my life in his hands, like a fragile bird.”

See you next week! Get excited. In the fifth one, the canoe is the hero.

Photo: NBC
Photo: NBC
Parks and Rec Recap: Thinking About the Future