Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 18: Animal Control
– Posted by Sage
Hey there, cats and kittens – I know that I am unforgivably late with this Parks review, since my backlog now includes the double eps that aired just last night. Luckily, “Animal Control” was classic Pawnee comedy, focusing on a few funny situations and none of the ongoing story arcs of this season. We’ll make this quick.
A hale and hearty welcome back to Harris and Brett of Pawnee’s Animal Control department! Though Andy Samberg’s Carl from seasons past couldn’t stay with us, I’m more than satisfied with his stoner replacements, who display the same lazy ingenuity we’ve come to expect from the most advanced of potheads. Say what you will about the result, but I bet you wouldn’t have even TRIED to fashion a Flintstones-style work whistle out of a dead crow. 99% perspiration, so they say.
This episode featured a few of my favorite Parks character teams, including Leslie and Chris, who commit to overhauling the Animal Control department after visiting Brett and Harris’s Hall of Horrors (and Possum/Cats). It takes an eternal optimist like Chris Traeger to make Leslie Knope look like a realist. But getting maimed by a animal trap will put anyone in a bad mood, so Chris finally agrees that it’s time to find a replacement. Leslie refuses to bow to the Councilman’s boy’s club tradition of taking turns making governmental appointments to whoever is owed a favor, but, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, is unable to find anyone in Pawnee qualified for (or even not dangerous IN) the job. Candidates include Jerry Gergich, who talks himself into a Parks department pay cut; Orin, who plans on controlling the animals with his mind; some lady who was only advised to apply by therapist Dr. Richard Nyguard (cue a delighted Chris Traeger grin) to face her crippling fear of animals; and Harris and Brett, who decide to move on when they realize how physically close they have come to local law enforcement.
Leslie feels powerless to object to Jamm’s appointment without a viable candidate to oppose him. So, in true Knope fashion, she runs with the decent idea she comes up with, without considering the other people involved. April loves animals, Leslie loves April = April should have the job. As April is being interrogated at her nomination hearing, Chris tells Leslie what she doesn’t want to hear, but knows to be true: April isn’t ready. I breathed a sigh of relief when Leslie’s scheme failed, because I really want April to pursue vet school. While her compassion for animals will surely mean that the world will not yet learn a 5th way to skin a cat, it hardly qualifies April for the job of pest population control. That story would probably end with April taking all the rats and raccoons home and raising them with Andy instead of destroying them. But it is April who comes up with the best solution: have the Parks department absorb Animal Control. Leslie names April the Deputy Director, and seals the deal with a plaque she had made during April’s first week on the job. And this is why we forgive Leslie for throwing April into the deep end to avoid losing to Jamm and his cronies. Who but Leslie would have seen any potential for leadership in Season One’s April Ludgate?
Speaking of fostering potential, Andy is out with Ben and Tom, pounding the pavement to solicit all of Pawnee’s biggest businesses for donations to the Sweetums Foundation. Today’s target is Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas is back!), fragrance mogul and all-around rich sociopath. Dennis is more concerned with “hunting” drugged Russian foxes and possibly a little Indian guy dressed in the Ralph Lauren 2010 collection than giving away any of his money. But Ben and co. are working on wearing him down, stroking his ego by comparing him to sports stars and enduring his constant bullying. The “scent artist” behind Spasm, Butterface, Ooze, Moneyshot, and Blood Spurt is a total asshole, and Andy is the first member of the team to run out of schmoozing energy and tell it like it is. As usual, Chris Pratt’s delivery was inspired. He blurts out, to his face, that Dennis is a dick like the words have a mind of their own. Poor Andy thinks he’s cost the foundation a huge contributor. Look, I’ve worked for non-profits for my entire career, and there have been moments when the staff has been bending over backwards to meet a donor’s seemingly arbitrary demands and we’re left wondering if it’s all worth it. MAYBE they could have talked Dennis into a donation if Andy hadn’t have said what he said. Or maybe they would have wasted even more time trying to convince a guy who was just fucking with them all along. Either way, Feinstein is off the call list and it’s Rent-a-Swag who commits portion of its proceeds to all those “poor homies.”
- Season 5 has been a gift to Ron/Ann fans. This week brought them together again, with Ron trying to drown a cold in whiskey (with a single ice cube, in the name of health) and Ann bringing him to his senses. There were plenty of classic Swansonisms in this b-plot (“Sexual history?” “Epic, and private.”), but the takeaway was serious. There IS dignity in living your life the way you feel like living it. But Ann reminds Ron that he’s not just living for himself anymore. He may not mind dying at 60 with a scotch on one side and a double side of bacon on the other, but where does that leave Diane and the girls? The tag with Ron’s attempts to eat a banana in the name of love was priceless and touching.
- No mention of Ann’s quest for a baby in this episode, but I can see the influence in her conversations with Ron. It makes sense that longevity and family are on her mind. IMPREGNATE HER, TRAEGER. The old-fashioned way, please.
- Possibly my favorite Leslie/Chris moment of all time: “I’m not gonna lie to you, I needed that.” “I know.”
- Brett is WONDERFUL and everything he says delights me. I hope we haven’t seen the last of him.
- “I think you’ve got several options. They’re all terrible, but you have them.” – Chris Traeger, on Animal Control appointments and also, my love life.
We’ve got plenty more Parks to cover this week – the next recap is a double-header! Get in some exercise (lovemaking and workworking, obviously), eat a damn banana, and we’ll meet back here in a few.