Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 14: Leslie and Ben
– Posted by Sage
“So how does it happen, great love? Nobody knows… but what I can tell you is that it happens in the blink of an eye. One moment you’re enjoying your life, and the next you’re wondering how you ever lived without them. “
The heartfelt and off-the-cuff ceremony Tom Haverford conducted for Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt was lovely and all, but it would have been even better if he had kept just one quote from the modern classic Hitch in there. After all, nobody knows more about the matters of the heart than that guy.
In fact, Ben’s gorgeous self-written vows are practically a paraphrasing of this little truth nugget. Ben is the Hitch of our small-town story, someone who just going about his business, not expecting to get smacked right in the face with true love. And that makes Chris Traeger our Kevin James? Or something. I haven’t worked it all out yet.
Anyway, I cried. You cried. Even Ron cried, possibly into a vat of hot, liquid metal. “Ben and Leslie” was 22 minutes of television to heal the evils of a world gone mad and mend all our broken spirits. It was a bombardment of effortlessly moving moments. Just as you crested one wave of feels, another broke right over it: Leslie calls her wedding dress “the most beautiful object” she’s ever seen and thus, “the Ann Perkins of dresses;” Donna sings Leslie down the aisle; Chris gives Ben the mounted letter commemorating their assignment to Pawnee, where they “both found home”, and so on. Over and over again, we’ve watched the group rally around Leslie, occasionally to protect, usually to support. This time, it was to celebrate her. It’s all about the bride and you know it.
Leslie is a force of nature. She’s driven, Type-A, and egotistical in the best possible way. It takes someone who demands that life bend to her to accomplish so much and connect so many people in the way that Leslie has. And everything she’s got, she’s got to share. So there’s just no question that her friends are going to scavenge through the “jewelry and nails” tray at the pawn shop or interrupt Ethel Beavers’ hot date to pull this wedding off. Because of his simplicity, Andy can often be the most insightful member of the group. Before he re-dedicates Lil’ Sebastian’s memorial song to the happy couple, he honors Leslie for being the reason that each one of them was not only in the room that day, but also in that place in their individual lives.
I’m still reeling from the exhausting and nasty attempts at comedy that were on parade at Sunday’s Oscars. What’s getting even older is the implication that people (like yours truly) who don’t find these boring, offensive jokes recycled from the trashcan in the Two and a Half Men writers room funny don’t understand comedy or are just plain humorless. Nein. It’s just that, if comedy is your job, I expect you to put a little work in. Luckily, some people are. Parks, Community, New Girl, and the dearly departed Ben and Kate have all succeeded in making nice funny. Take a line like this one, when Leslie is insisting that Ron give her away: “I lost my father when I was 10, I don’t have any brothers, and Ken Burns never wrote me back.” This is writing, you guys. In 20 words, this joke tells a story, gets a laugh, and put a big ol’ tear in your eye. And another, this one courtesy mostly of our actors: During the ceremony, April mock-complains about the schmaltziness of the proceedings, and Ben turns around and gives her this LOOK, as if to say, “I love you, you little brat.” And she smiles. And it was just such a tiny, exquisite moment about how all of these people accept each other for who they are. It gave me chills, I swear.
This episode was written to serve as the series finale if NBC didn’t come to its senses and order a back nine. And it would have been a great one. But thankfully, Parks lives to fight another day and to further ruin our lives with words and faces like these.
- I look forward to the callback in May where 200 white chocolate top hats are delivered to the house; Leslie eats 2/3s of them; and she goes on a sugar-spree similar to the great Nutriyum debacle of Season 2.
- Councilman Jamm is clearly a graduate of the very sophisticated Seth MacFarlane school of comedy: “Here comes the boo, all dressed in boo.” Good one!
- Chris and Ben source possible wedding ring stand-ins, come up short with: “a ruby that’s gone bad” and “a tennis bracelet that says ‘Wine Chick.'”
- “About my new partner…is it a dog?” Even though Andy aced his written exam, 98% of what he knows about being a cop still comes straight from 80’s buddy movies.
- Here are Ben’s vows again in full, because come on: “In my time working for the state government,my job sent me to 46 cities in 11 years. I lived in villages with eight people, rural farming communities, college towns. I was sent to every corner of Indiana. And then I came here. And I realized that, this whole time, I was just wandering around, everywhere, just looking for you.” #everybodydies
- I would watch an entire spin-off about April, Andy, and their slutty adopted grandma, Ethel Beavers.
- Chris Traeger is a prince among men and I’m sorry if I ever doubted it.
- This week in Chris Pratt appreciation: his brave, sad smile when Chris promises him that they’ll figure out his next step together. Could you just not, Pratt? You’re killing me.
We had bonus Parks last week, so check back soon for my recap of the Donna-dominated episode, “Correspondents’ Lunch.” Till then, my little turtle doves. Falcon, out.