Parks and Recreation Recap: Rage-Sweat/Rage-Glow

Parks and Recreation

Swing Vote
Season 5 Episode 21
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Parks and Recreation

Swing Vote
Season 5 Episode 21
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC

This week brings us a time-honored Parks and Rec standoff between Leslie Knope’s pro-government ethos and Ron Swanson’s libertarian get-off-my-lawn values. Who wins this round of Policy Putt-Putt? Does it really matter? Ultimately, we learn the most about ourselves through the losses.

On the other hand, mini golf rules.
Based on Leslie’s rage-sweat (or rage-glow), we can tell Ron is engaging in one of his all-time favorite activities: cutting government funding. He deems the Pawnee Palms Public Putt-Putt undeserving of taxpayer support. He deems everything undeserving of taxpayer support, actually. “The Hoover Dam is a travesty.” Leslie is ready to fight, and when she’s done, the PPPPP will attract more visitors than the Hoover Dam and generate more electricity! Whatever, it already has windmills — they’ll figure it out.

Leslie gets into vote-whipping mode. Councilman Milton makes an appearance, racist as ever — he’s seen children of all races playing together at the putt-putt course, so he’s ready to wipe it off the map — and leaves Councilman Jamm to be the swing vote.

Ugh, never tell someone like Councilman Jamm that he’s your swing vote! You know the rule: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if you give absolute power to someone who is already corrupt, you are all kinds of screwed. Jamm relishes his status as a “kind of badass wild card.” Leslie proposes she mini-golf to win Jamm’s vote.

Now, we’ve already seen Leslie try to turn recreational sports into vote-getting gambits, in “Bowling for Votes.” Does she remember how that ended? It did not go well! Derek wouldn’t vote for Leslie even after she lost on purpose (sensing a theme here?) and then Derek called her a bitch. The only thing that made this badness all better was that Ben Wyatt clocked Derek in the face.

To the PPPPP! Chris is on hand as a caddy/conversation lubricant. He considers himself a caddy to everyone in his life. “Great sweeping! Way to be, duck.” Leslie caters to Jamm’s every whim, providing an endless supply of sno-cones and pretending to be a terrible mini-golfer. Ron shows up and accuses Leslie of pandering, adding that “This ridiculous play palace costs taxpayers thousands of dollars a year.” Leslie counters: “Everyone loves it. It’s like the Toy Story 3 of places!”

Ron is unmoved — until Jamm suggests Ron and Leslie play nine holes, winner gets Jamm’s vote. So it’s Swanson vs. Knope: Putt-Putt Smackdown! I could literally faint if I didn’t have impeccable blood pressure.

Ron beats Leslie by one stroke. I’m not really sure how to feel about this because they’re both being kind of obnoxious, honestly.

Leslie brings the gorilla from the golf course to Ron’s office as a MONKEY TOMB. She tells him his principles stink and that the gorilla’s name is Mr. Fuzzyface. I would’ve gone with Shrine of the Silver Monkey, but whatever works for you.

Jamm, slimeball that he is, rolls into Leslie’s office to play Let’s Make a Deal Behind Ron Swanson’s Back Because My Word Is Garbage. Leslie is appalled, but Jamm reminds her of the litany of compromises she’s made during her political career and employs the phrase “people like us.” Leslie looks like she might literally faint regardless of her blood-pressure status.

She storms into Ron’s office and rattles off six things that start in a defense of the Putt-Putt place and end in an appreciation of his values and their friendship. This rant ends, as all rants should, with a drink.

Sigh. This is what all government interaction should be like! People with opposing principles — which is to say, like, they both have to have principles — butting heads as equals and getting shit done. With sno-cones. I think government could use some more sno-cones.

It’s dawning on Leslie that governing can be queasy-making. Ron is curious why she thought politics would be anything but queasy-making. In a very sweet moment, Leslie replies, “I thought government would be like working with you.”

Ron’s real talk: “There are a lot of Jeremy Jamms along the path you’re walking. I suppose you just need to figure out if it’s a path you truly want to walk.”

So … what does it all mean? Leslie wouldn’t suddenly abandon politics just because government attracts more than its fair share of egomaniacal jerk-faces. But it wouldn’t be like Leslie to completely ignore Ron’s advice, either, or the fact that her new gig hasn’t turned out quite the way she planned (remember her binder just piled in a crate with other binders in Washington?).

Ron and Leslie give each other these little half-smiles at the end of the episode, and that’s good enough for me, for now.

We can do this, but I will bite you.
Jenny Slate is back as Mona Lisa
. She is still Tom’s girlfriend, and she is still terrible. Tom decides it’s time to do the mature thing and have someone else break up with her for him. He bribes Ann with his favorite blanket to dump Mona Lisa on his behalf.

What starts out as a not-so-promising intervention — “How did I not know Diddy was on Instagram, you jagweeds?” — ends as an almost-success when Ann tells Mona Lisa that Tom drinks tap water. “I don’t eff with poorsies,” says Mona Lisa, but she’s not done with Ann: “You’re awesome and I don’t even like Puerto Rican chicks.”

The only way to rescue Ann from Mona Lisa’s insanity is for Tom to pretend he and Ann are dating — feels like a pretty convenient excuse for Tom to just grab Ann and kiss her, but okay. After angling for a threesome, Mona Lisa moves on (at least from Ann) and continues to wreak havoc on Tom’s life, sans “girlfriend” label.

Battle of the band
The Sweetums Foundation made a major donation to the Redwood Music Program, a charity Andy selected, so Ben takes the Dwyers out to celebrate. Naturally, Ben winds up not only designated-driving but also paying for everything.

At this awful bar, Mouserat is playing — or, more accurately, Ratmouse is playing, without Andy. UH-OH. Andy is crushed. April is, well, she loves Andy, but as we’ve seen before, she doesn’t even like Mouserat. April only listens to Halloween sound-effects records from the fifties and Bette Midler, obviously. Andy decides to quit the band, saying farewell with his swan song, which contains lyrics like “Once I was a golden swan, a swan of a man.” So, yeah.

I have a hard time investing in this story line, readers, mostly because it sounds like Andy was a pain in the ass as a bandmate: never showing up to rehearsal, not answering/losing his phone, refusing to share the spotlight. You know, typical lead-singer crap.

Andy shows up at work the next day dressed like a businessman (not a business, man) and carrying Ben’s briefcase. This not-that-engaging story has a not-at-all complicated resolution, wherein Andy is immediately let back into the band because, surprise! His bandmates never wanted to kick him out; Andy was just always MIA.

Um … where the hell was Donna? She gets in one good “Whoa! Fancy Andy!” and I’m just supposed to be okay with that? Unacceptable.

I dropped my cell phone in a bowl of cereal last week, so you’re just going to have to say hi to me on Twitter @jessicagolds instead. And can I just point out how handsome you look today?

Parks and Recreation Recap: Rage-Sweat/Rage-Glow