Parks and Recreation
At first glance, Leslie’s life looks pretty different in 2017 from how it looked in 2014: She’s got triplets, a high-level new job, and did I mention the bangs? I’m going to be bringing up the bangs a lot, as I now get to experience having bangs vicariously because I’m never going to learn how to blow-dry bangs for myself, so, hope everybody can get onboard with that. Still, the more things change, well, you know. We are back in familiar territory: Leslie is in a jam (Jamm pun!) that we have seen many times before. She needs enough votes to win the Newport land, and the deciding vote is none other than groan-inducing civil servant and sometimes-dentist Councilman Jamm.
Something looks off about Councilman Jamm, even though he greets Leslie by farting at her. Quickly, it becomes clear: Jamm has a new girlfriend. That girlfriend is Tammy. And then I see, of course, that Jamm looks like some mass-market version of Leslie’s now-opponent Ron. I believe Leslie put it as eloquently as a person could: “When did you—? Why would either one of you—? Why, dear God, why?”
Leslie sees this appalling alliance as an opportunity: She can use Tammy against Ron and guarantee Jamm will vote for her. And you can trust her opinion, “because I have a lot to gain by being right, and I have severe tunnel vision about achieving my goals.”
Her battle with Ron rages on, and their back-and-forths are still awesome (but heartbreaking):
Ron: In my experience with capitalism, people normally expect money in exchange for their goods and land.
Leslie: In my experience with butt-faces, you ARE one.
Who could argue with that bulletproof logic? Not this recapper.
Leslie’s not-so-flawless plan backfires, as her not-so-flawless plans are wont to do, because Tammy would never do anything to help her. Tammy then tries to get Ron back, but Ron is a changed man who laughs off the notion as being “horny with gratitude.”
Leslie can’t stay focused on her professional goal of getting Jamm’s vote; she sees a man adrift, and she must save him from drowning. Tammy is trying to turn Jamm into a sad little shadow of Ron, her OTP (or so she thinks), forcing Jamm to eat at a steakhouse and drink whiskey even though he has IBS. Leslie’s attempts at rallying him are so great, if only because they are so not in line with anything she values: “You have a Hooters platinum card!” Jamm is in a bad way: “Sure, I’m depressed and constantly sick and nothing really brings me joy, but it just feels right.” And then he bursts into tears. He spends much of the episode hysterically sobbing and/or maniacally laughing.
In the name of this rescue mission, Leslie calls a temporary truce with Ron. They must free Jamm from the clutches of Tammy:
Leslie: This is about saving someone’s soul.
Ron: He is a monster, monsters do not have souls.
Leslie: Have you ever seen Monsters, Inc.?
Leslie: Damn it, Ron! Engage in the culture once in a while!
I feel this way every time I talk to someone who hasn’t listened to 1989. I need to be able to discuss the greatness of “Style” at any time.
Ron signs on, and this leads to what is obviously the best part of the episode: Leslie’s Tammy impression, and Leslie repeatedly slapping Jamm in the face. Leslie’s Tammy voice is so good that it pulls you out of the show, because you can’t not think about the comedic brilliance that is Amy Poehler, but who cares about staying in the show when we get that spot-on nasal purr saying, “Hey there, horsey, time to mount up and ride on into Boner Town! What do you say we get stanky in that pet-store bathroom?” along with her beautifully awkward humping of Ron’s leg. (It’s cool, he’s wearing a crotch-blinder of his own design. “In this scenario, she will be coming at you pantsless.”)
Once the training is complete, Ron, Leslie, and Jamm meet Tammy for a showdown at the library. Jamm tries to break up with Tammy, and in this moment, our dear Leslie is tested. Tammy dangles the promise of Jamm’s vote in front of Leslie’s face. But Leslie, our noble, binder-loving rock star, prevails. Jamm dumps Tammy, even though all of Tammy’s clothes tear off her body like those old Adidas warm-up pants.
Jamm abstains from the vote, citing his inability to decide between his “two all-time-best friends.” It’s a tie! Now what? “Back to work to figure out how to destroy you,” says Leslie, but she and Ron have tears in their eyes. The anger is fading. Feelings are taking over. What’s the over-under on these two making up and being the father-daughter-figures I need them to be again?
I had hoped that this farewell season would bring us the best of all of Parks’s recurring characters and give them the space to demonstrate their weirdness to its fullest extent, and so far, I am not disappointed. Joan Callamezzo (who did not, in fact, promote The Nephrologist’s Time Machine, but I can see how someone might make that mistake) is getting a, well, is it a star? Or just a slab of sidewalk with her picture on it? Anyway, she’s getting a something on the Pawnee Walk of Fame. Also, she is April’s hero. The highlights reel we get of how Joan spent the past three years is perfection: She did a series of shows from rehab, she gave every member in her audience one car that they all had to fight for, she did a show where she called all over her ex-boyfriends while sitting on top of a washing machine.
Watching Joan give a completely bonkers yet wonderful speech, April realizes something: “Do I even like my job?” A quarter-life crisis ensues. April wants to know her purpose in life. “My insides are dying.” She’s just going to live under a bridge and ask people riddles before they cross. This wouldn’t be such an outlandish idea if she and Andy hadn’t just bought a house together. Ben accompanies April on this soul-searching journey, as she tries out her 10-year-old dream of being a mortician and finds that it’s pretty lame and requires two years of school plus an apprenticeship. She learns a depressing fact of real life: All jobs are paperwork.
April asks Donna what to do, and I am filled with joy at the idea that April, who at one time did not even know that Donna’s spirit dog was actually a cat, now turns to this goddess in her time of need. “If working around corpses isn’t even right for me, then nothing is. I feel totally lost.” Donna, naturally, has an explanation: Saturn’s orbit around the sun takes 29 years. When Saturn gets back to where it was when you were born, get ready for lots of turmoil. “When I was your age, I got banned from every riverboat in Germany.” Ben tells April that he wants to help her be happy because they’re friends; April immediately is all, “No, I’m not, I’ve never cared for you.” Then she gives him a hug! It’s very sweet. I hope there is a hug quota per episode, because these heartfelt displays of emotion are the only things getting me through the next seven weeks of saying good-bye to Pawnee.
In a very clunky transition, Tom watches the fourth couple at Tom’s Bistro get engaged this month and decides he’s over his high-flying bachelor lifestyle. He checks his Gryzzl page and has a message from Lucy, that girl he used to date. Which, I mean, if a guy you used to date and only dumped because he wasn’t over his ex turned out to be incredibly wealthy, successful, and still single, obviously you’d send him a “casual” Facebook/Gryzzl message, “just to say hey.” Andy and Tom interpret this as a sign to go to Chicago and ask Lucy out; I might’ve returned the message first, but okay!
This little jaunt is worth it just to see Andy slowly fall for his own elaborate lie about moving to Chicago for a job as head coach of the Chicago Bulls (or working for a nonprofit, whichever). Tom gets nervous at the last second and, instead of asking Lucy on a date, hires her to come work for him in Pawnee. And, yup, you guessed it: That sounds great to her, she just has to check with her boyfriend first. I did love Tom’s response: “This is perfect and everything’s worked out just as I hoped!”
A few other things:
• “Thank you, Commissioner Gordon, people of Gotham.” I would so watch a spinoff just about Joan. “I think America should have a Purge Night. Let me explain why.”
• “The snooker has become the snort!”
• Andy, upon arriving in Chicago: “Chicago, the Big Apple!”
• More Joan wisdom: “It doesn’t count as stripping if no one pays you.”
• “When dealing with Tammy, the code is the same as that of the battlefield. First, you leave no man behind. Second, you must protect yourself against chemical warfare. Tammy does not abide by the Geneva Convention.”
• I love that Leslie is the one who gets shushed in the library, even as Tammy is stripping and screaming.
• “Just regionally directing the Midwest Whatever of Who Cares.”
• “Turns out the crotch-blinder was inside you all along.”