Parks and Recreation
Season 6, Episode 4: Doppelgängers
Season 6, Episode 5: Gin It Up
To keep you up to date on all the cosplay chaos of New York Comic Con, last week’s Parks recap was preempted. But my fellow Pawneans, lest you think that I’d abandon you like an old shoe, I’m making up for it with a double recap this week.
The doubleheader is fitting, since our first episode had the Pawnee Parks Department meeting their Eagletonian counterparts. It seems that, apart from the departments of Infinity Pool Design and Dressage of course, everyone in Eagleton’s City Hall has a direct equivalent in Pawnee. And, due to circumstances not really explained, Leslie the Merger Czar is responsible for shaving down the new staff. No one, especially not the Eagleton folks, seem to particularly care how biased Leslie is in favor of her friends, some of whom are just better versions of George Washington. Though couldn’t she have made an exception and allowed Donna and her new best friend Craig to share Office Manager duties forever? I would also accept the spin-off where Billy Eichner and Retta bro out over Scandal and sexting nasty firemen.
This arc is just an excuse to cast the hell out of this thing, and I’m totally fine with it. June Diane Raphael was long overdue a Parks role, and Sam Elliott is an incredible get as the crunchy version of Ron Swanson (“What in god’s name is a free-gan vegan?”). With Tynnyfer (“with two y’s”), the writers got to throw all their Bravo star cliches at the wall, but it was April’s reaction to her that made that character work. I have a friend who is so fun to hate things with that when I’m in a terrible situation, I’ll wish she was there just to commiserate with me. I’ll even leave her messages about it. “Why aren’t you here? You’d be SO MAD. It would be amazing.” April’s passion for collecting human oddities is so complete, that she has more fun loathing Tynnyfer than she would spending time with an actual friend. I don’t believe those studies that claim that complaining is psychologically unhealthy. It’s good for the soul – and usually the only joy that can come from a state of misery. I think April would agree.
The merger coincides with Ann broaching the topic of her move with Leslie. And Leslie’s season of bad behavior continues. Despite Ann’s valiant attempt to distract her with waffles, Leslie feels personally betrayed and makes Ann’s major life change all about her. She’s terrified, and tries to force the rest of her friends to sign their lives away to her and City Hall (“Fine, you only have to work here till I’m dead.”). When they resist and tell her that she’s acting crazy, the Eagletonians are her new best friends. How angry do you have to make Leslie Knope for her to choose to fraternize with her sworn enemies? In her defense, she realizes her error fairly quickly (it’s only a 22-minute show) thanks to Ron and a mock apology to “Fake Ann.” And you would freak out too if you lost your trusty Oscar-watching buddy. (DON’T EVER LEAVE ME, KIM.) “No comment,” on the Angelina leg, Ben? Not even a Lara Croft reference? Je suis déçu, J-Shot.
I thought the break-up of Leslie and Ann would be what really destroyed me in this cast change, but I’m getting really attached to Chris and Ben. I love that we’re now learning that “Mean Ben” was just phase one of their no-fail budget-fixing strategies. Their working relationship has developed into a true friendship, and the conversation turned bittersweet when they accepted the inexorable truth that partners change friendships like theirs. They’ve come a long way from doing burpees and devouring seasons of Twin Peaks in their nondescript motel rooms, but a tiny part of both of them doesn’t think it would quite mind living that forever. They’re linked forever by the Leslie and Ann sisterhood. They’ll see each other on holidays and kids’ birthdays and email a lot. And that’s really great and also so profoundly sad that I want to call every friend I’ve ever lost touch with right now. Ben and Chris feel that change coming, and I’m glad they got to save Eagleton together as one last accounting bros hurrah. Plus, Ben’s sincere congratulations on Chris’s news is just one more item on the “Ben Wyatt, Da Vinci or DiCaprio” list of attributes.
This week’s episode “Gin It Up” was directed by Jorma Taccone, who you might know as 1/3 of The Lonely Island or that naked guy who laid on top of Marnie for a while on Girls. There were no novelty rap interludes, so I don’t know what that meant for the episode. But he’s cute and talented, so I feel obligated to mention it. Annnnnyway, Leslie would like to remind you about two other bullets on the pro-Ben Wyatt list.
Ben and Leslie are continuing to fight the good fight against the recall lobby. A farting Leslie doll is no match for these two. (And might, in fact, endear Leslie to some of the immature Pawnee residents.) But never underestimate the ability of the powers that be to blow an innocuous social media post way out of proportion. In a reenactment of my very worst nightmare, Donna forgets to log out of the Parks Twitter before posting a personal tweet. Granted, my graphic tweets are usually directed towards FICTIONAL men. Would that Donna would loan me one of her firefighters.
Jeremy Jamm sees a golden opportunity to create a media circus (“How dare you demean the value of the political points I’m scoring!”) and the similarities to the idiocy of the government shutdown are so blatant as to not even require further comment. Leslie’s used to Jamm’s tactics by now and is hardly fazed. The real conflict comes when Donna’s timeline is mined further and her 140-character complaints about Leslie are made public. And Leslie has to learn the difference between heat-of-the-moment reactions and long-term loyalty. (“You really think I hate you? After all we’ve been through the last 10 years?”) My queens, please don’t fight! Chris Traeger will explain:
Meanwhile, only one version of Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany showed up this week to play Nadia Whatever-Her-Name, a D’s Without B’s doctor who visits the office to request a park for a mobile hospital unit. In a snap decision of very sound judgement and realistic outcomes, the smitten Tom decides to go full posh British accent on her. It’s high time for Tom to get with a lady who doesn’t steal other women’s birth control pills, so I was rooting for him in this Zack Morris-style scheme. When the accent doesn’t get the job done, Tom pulls out all the other stops: espresso machines, homemade daiquiris, DJ Roomba, and lots and lots of imaginary paperwork. With Andy still in London (I MISS YOU, CHRIS PRATT), April makes an excellent wingman for Tom (“So, you’ve gone insane. That’s fun.”) Will BBC America allow Nadia to come back for that date? Tom’s been such a good dude lately – he deserves to get some, especially from a girl as obsessed with HOV and B as he is.
And I don’t know what we did to deserve this, my friends, but this week brought us the first Ron and Ben storyline of the season. Ben pulls Ron kicking and screaming to a lawyer to draw up a will for his family. You see, the one he wrote when he was eight years old is practically unintelligible, except to the animal or man who kills him, of course. Ron’s had to learn to compromise his ideals of privacy and independence this and last season. He’s got a family now, and Ben is able to convince him that not doing this would be irresponsible for a father. And though Ron thinks lawyers are useless, numbers guy Ben is there to speak the language.
As we suspected, Ron is massively rich. He’s got noble ideals of not spoiling his kids (“I will leave my children $50 a piece for the cab home from my funeral and a steak dinner.”); but, Ben tells him, money that isn’t legally entailed will go straight to the government. So the girls and new baby Swansong will each receive 5%, and, should something happen to Ron, Diane, and the 90-year-old maitre’d of Ron’s favorite steakhouse, Ben and Leslie get the kids. (If Leslie’s the godmother, I’m gonna die.) Our big strong mustachioed baby is all groweds up.
- I wanna be a spanish man named Terrence, but that didn’t happen.”
- Pawnee’s medical history includes the only known occurrence of “Lou Gehrig’s other disease.”
- “I don’t think a baby could get out of there if it tried,” a line that wouldn’t have been out of place for Raphael’s Julie on the brilliant Burning Love.
- It pains me to say this, but the Jerry/Gerry/Larry arc is running out of steam. The intro of his family brought new life last year, but the writers need to come up with something else to keep it fresh. Right now, I’m pitying him again, and we can’t have that.
- “Mmmm…sugar mustard.”
- Councilman Dexhart is fantastic in small doses, i.e. his admiration of Donna’s sex-tweets.
- “We have to talk.” “That’s never been true.”
- I wonder what Andy and Lord Fancypants are doing right now. Slumber party in the Tower of London? Spitting off the Millennium Bridge? Prank calling William and Kate?
And now the fall hiatus begins. Thanks a lot, The Voice. What do you think of the season so far, readers? Are you as ready for the recall vote to be over as we are?