Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 9: Ron and Diane
– Posted by Sage
Merry Congratu-Christmas, Parks fans! Our favorite show gifted us with a hell of a holiday episode, featuring some lessons about friendship and the return of one of the most notorious Pawneeans. We laughed, we cried, we flashed our goods while climbing into a dumpster.
A Ron Swanson original has been nominated for an Indiana Fine Woodworking Association Award, and for once, Ron is just about as excited as Leslie. I mean, he hasn’t composed a Congratu-Christmas carol or anything, but he did invite his ladyfriend Diane (Lucy Lawless) to the banquet. Leslie will also be there, as Ron’s “self-appointed emotional guardian.” Ron is going to actually publicly care about something and Leslie will get to meet and vet Diane? The only thing left to make this night perfect is Ron winning the coveted award for “Achievement in Chair.”
At the awards dinner, Leslie and Diane hit it off over hopes and dreams and Hogwarts houses, while Ron fangirls over his carpentry heros. But the evening threatens to be ruined when Ron’s second and two-time ex-wife Tammy 2 shows up, demanding to, well, get drilled. Head Canon: Tammy 2 knows about the awards because she is the only other person besides Leslie Knope to have a Ron Swanson Google Alert. Leslie double-thumbs-up approves Diane and is horrified that Tammy 2 will scare her away. The “sex-crazed demon librarian” successfully turns Ron’s acceptance speech into a monosyllabic mess with a Basic Instinct move and forces Leslie to consider lifting her ban on the b-word, but can’t shake Diane. (“I’m a middle school vice-principal. I deal with hormonal psychopaths all the time.”) What does worry Diane is Ron’s relationship with Leslie.
My condolences to the Ron/Leslie shippers, but this episode effectively put an end to that dream. They both vehemently deny any romantic interest in each other, but that’s not quite the issue. Diane knows that Ron’s “not a big sharer,” but then meets someone, a female someone, who has been able to break down some of those walls. The difference is that Leslie tirelessly chipped away at them for years with cheerful determination and Ron begrudgingly accepted her intimacy. Diane doesn’t have to do that work. Ron wants to be open with her. Meanwhile, though Leslie Knope is used to being the woman in Ron’s life, she has the grace to step back and support him in a different way. Ron tracks Diane down to do some soul-baring. He confirms that Leslie is “a wonderful loyal friend who is very important in my life” (all my Leslie/Ron friendship feels) and who, at that moment, is taking on Tammy 2 single-handedly to protect them.
To affirm his commitment to her, Ron reveals his alter-ego to Diane – the secret identity unknown even to Leslie. Ladies, get your panty-throwing arms warmed up, because Duke Silver is in the house.
Meanwhile, Tom, Donna, April, and Andy are about to celebrate their favorite annual holiday: Jerry Dinner! In a reverse version of New Girl’s douchebag jar, the four would put a dollar into a box every time Jerry did something stupid or embarrassing and then use the haul to treat themselves to a fancy meal. Ann points out how cruel the game is, but they say it’s not mean if he doesn’t know about it. (“It’s like talking about people behind their backs – everybody wins.”) Still, Donna has an attack of conscience on the way to Jerry Dinner and decides to swing by his house to invite him. The meanies are shocked to find Jerry’s house in full Winter Wonderland-mode. It’s a Gergich Family Christmas!
Party guest Ann plays Ghost of Christmas Present and lets the crew look in on the wholesome fun time (Santa! An indoor buffet!) they’d be having if they weren’t so unkind to Jerry. She won’t let them in until they do something nice. They point their sarcasm at Jerry because he’s too sweet to retaliate and therefore, they aren’t made to feel guilty. But there’s a price to being too cool. Tom, Donna, April and Andy are the ones left (literally) out in the cold, while Jerry is surrounded by friends and his gorgeous blond family. Tom gifts Jerry the full wad of cash and tells him that they’d been putting a dollar in the box any time they caught themselves being jerks. Poor, sweet Jerry is touched as can be and welcomes them inside before summarily being locked out. Sigh. There’s the first dollar in the 2013 Jerry Dinner collection.
- Finally, some Chris and Ben bro-time! He may not have established a title for himself like Leslie, but Ben obviously considers himself to be Chris’s emotional guardian. He was prepared to handle any meltdowns caused by ex-girlfriends, extra calories, or visual symptoms of aging.
- This plea is becoming a weekly feature of this recap, but WILL SOMEONE PLEASE GET CHRIS PRATT AN EMMY? Every single line is a slam dunk these days: “I didn’t even know she knew Jerry!” “Plus, I gotta poop. But I can stop anywhere for that.” “Who’s Jerry Filter?” He’s so good because he doesn’t try to do the funny thing, he just does the Andy thing. All the comedy emanates from the character, so it’s both ridiculous and real. He elevates physical comedy and potty humor to a place that most network sitcoms don’t even attempt to reach. There’s isn’t a chance for him while Modern Family walks this earth, but maybe his brilliance will be recognized someday.
- Ben’s entrance in THAT CARDIGAN was more exciting to me than the whole of Magic Mike.
- “Man Perkins.”
- Obviously, Leslie would be a Gyffindor seeker. And probably prefect and Head Girl and McGonagall’s favorite.
- The thunder of the Gergich family reveal was pretty much stolen when the casting was announced, but it was still fun to see Christie Brinkley eskimo-kissing Jim O’Heir.
- The In Memoriam montage at the Woodworking Awards was a classic Parks bit of throwaway genius.
- “I felt like my heart was white-water rafting!”
- Megan Mullally can continue guest starring on every comedy I watch and I’ll never be sick of her. Can you imagine what a blast she and Amy had doing their fight scenes? I expect plenty of that material on the Season 5 gag reel.
And that’s our winter finale! Enjoy the holiday hiatus, Pawneeans. And try some of the full-fat eggnog, why don’t you?