Parks and Recreation
Season 6, Episode 14: Anniversaries
Season 6, Episode 15: The Wall
Posted by Sage
It’s Beslie’s first anniversary and frankly, I’m shocked Leslie didn’t work Ben’s butt into the Pawnee Journal announcement’s headline.
Hanged angels aside, domestic bliss abounds. All that remains to be seen is which spouse will be the one to make the derpiest face when given their gift. Ben thinks he’s got Leslie with his day-early romantic fake-out and Leslie knows she’s got Ben because no one goes head-to-head with Leslie Knope in a gift-giving challenge and wins. And when you play the anniversary gift game of thrones, you win or you die. Blissfully nerding out.
I am right there with you, Ben. I cried when I stepped into the interior of the TARDIS. But I have a continuity bone to pick. Leslie has been known to play along with Ben’s sexy GoT pet name for her (“If anyone can do it, it’s you Khaleesi.”), so I’m 100% sure she at least knows that the battle for the seven kingdoms doesn’t involve star ships of any kind. I digress.
Yet another reason to aspire every day to a relationship like this one is that Ben is just as jazzed to give Leslie the scrapbook of his planned romantic gestures as he was for her to actually experience them. He knew she wouldn’t feel slighted. How could she, with photographic proof of Ben and Larry’s whimsical Enchanted-inspired carriage ride around Pawnee? My head canon is that Ben and Larry make “Boys’ Day Out” a yearly tradition and always celebrate it the day before Ben and Leslie’s anniversary.
Being married to Leslie means accepting that taking care of her town full of children will usually come first. And now she has two towns full of children to wrangle. The Pawnee/Eagleton merger is not gelling like she hoped. And everything brilliant about this show is exemplified in the setting they chose to drive that point home. Derry Murbles, the most exceptionally named Pawneean, now shares his public radio show “Thought for Your Thoughts” with Eagletonian radio personality August Clementine, played – as if there were any other option – by John Hodgman. Neither of them are happy about it, and the result is a gorgeously soft-spokenly passive aggressive pissing contest rather than the “big, quiet, arcane ball of fun” Leslie was in the market for.
All Leslie must do is look to the correct Whitney Houston lyric. Unfortunately for Plan A, she skips over the one about the children being our future and goes straight to the one about grumpy old people being occasionally inspirational, hopefully. 50 years after their wedding, Pawnee and Eagleton Romeo and Juliet Rosie and Doug DeMarco have just barely not killed each other. (Likely the outcome for the Montague/Capulet version too, if they’d lived that long.) After yet another catastrophic appearance on Joan Callamezzo’s show where they air their dirty laundry (“I used to get out of the shower in front of your brother on purpose!”), Leslie loses the old version of iTunes and hands the reins over to the new one. Andy, April, Tom, Crazy Craig, and Craig’s friend, actual young person Madison (“She drove me here!”) make up the merger’s new task force. Powered by a few ‘zas and and some clean whiteboards, they come up with a 3-day outdoor arts and music festival that will at least distract their neighbors from hating each other from a few hours. Leslie is so overwhelmed that she can only make unintelligible sounds. Youths!
Meanwhile, the makers of frozen yogurt, vegan food, and Canada need to be told some things. When April hides behind a Yelp screenname to criticize her employee Donna, Ron discovers that the internet is a handy place to find the names and addresses of businesses who deserve a strongly worded letter from his mammoth typewriter. “Dear frozen yogurt: you are the celery of desserts. Be ice cream or be nothing,” he writes. “Zero stars.” April cowers at her desk while Donna demands the IP address of her hater and fires poor Kyle (hey, Kyle!). Ron, on the other hand, sits proudly in wait, happy to have a man-to-man conversation if a recipient of one of his succinctly brilliant customer complaints shows up. “If you believe in something, you sign your name to it,” he tells April, who wasn’t totally joking when she suggested that he adopt her. She airs things out with Donna. Good for you, April. Donna Meagle is more intimidating than 1000 vegans standing on each other’s bony shoulders.
The great Pawnee/Eagleton reunification continues as Leslie plans to take down the wall between the towns before the unity concert. (Porn king Dennis Lerpiss will have to find another surface to tag.) The unity concert plans are ahead of schedule, leaving plenty of time for celebratory banner design. Bands are submitting songs for the town anthem competition, which Andy will surely win with another masterpiece on wings and flight. Ron casually gets a new fish and a new baby. It’s a great day. It is such a great day.
Prank queen Leslie Knope does it again, filling the wall with “her” bees and delighting the Pawnee press. (Was that guy’s name really TRODD?) The only way to get this disaster back on track is to convince the Grant Larson – not the Grant Larson who is otherwise known as Elton John, but the bad boy of the National Parks Service – to declare Eagleton Hills a national park. Despite her love for this town literally punching her in the face, Leslie is still there for her meeting with a massive shiner and a tasteful tie-dye t-shirt. Grant can’t make it happen.
But Leslie’s name and her river clean-up grant proposal have been making the rounds in Washington. Just as she’s resigned herself to a political life of being “ignored” or “tolerated,” she finds out that she’s revered somewhere. So instead of a national park designation, Grant hands her the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to run a division of the National Parks Service in Chicago. What will our girl do?
She finds Ron on the third floor of City Hall, where he’s sent a crew of workman away in favor of renovating the rooms himself. Ron loves the work. He loves the DOING. He can spot someone who doesn’t a mile away, and it’s their loss. If your life is only about results, your happiness is dependent on countless outside factors that you can’t possibly control. Leslie can’t control how people respond to her. She can’t control bees. (“I’m sending this straight to Tosh.”) She can’t singlehandedly wipe out decades of resentment. But she lives for the doing, just like Ron. And she won’t walk away just because “this town is stupid” and it “keeps letting [her] down.” “You like fixing this town, Leslie,” Ron reminds her. “You always have. You know it’s an uphill battle, but you love the struggle.” Grant will just have to tell the national Leslie fan club that they have to wait for her to finish what she’s started in Pawnee. John [Middle Name Redacted] Swanson deserves no less.
A little passion goes a long way, whether that passion is for the perfectly crafted Excel spreadsheet or for Saltweens, the new hip cracker just for tweens. Tom kills the corporate sponsorship part of the festival planning and gets the opportunity to pitch an idea to some bleach bigwig. He’s thinking big, like unisex teeth whitening strips big. Lasik finger nails big. Ben talks him into something more practical and painfully boring, ignoring the fact that Tom will lose interest in a fraction of a second if his project doesn’t have some flash that he can sink his teeth into. It’s Tom who reads the flavor of the pitch meeting correctly and changes his idea midstream. Ben gives us confused Vanna.
Parks is and always has been the most optimistic of sitcoms. But it’s not mindlessly so. Not being miserable is entirely up to you. If you don’t like where you’re at, get to where you are. Even if Tom’s Bistro eventually fails, it won’t be for Tom’s lack of trying. And he won’t walk away without having gained anything. The work has to be worth it. It’s a lesson to all of us, whether we’re public servants or the director of the new Star Wars trilogy. Do not rely too heavily on the CGI of your life. You’ll hate yourself for it, and so will everyone else.
- “All human beings have the right to hear about foundations.”
- “Derry, absorb the aggression.”
- Fart attack reference!
- This is all Retta, right?
- “And another two times, because that movie is AMAZING.”
- “Dear Canada: fuck you.”
- “They eat, they sleep, they complain, they watch Family Feud. Oh my god, I want to be an old person.”
- Ginuwine is actually making an appearance later this season, which is giving us all a reason to live! Now to court Channing Tatum…
- There are no Ann-and-Chris-shaped holes in these episodes. And, as we knew they would, Jim O’Heir and Retta are stepping up to their beefed up roles with authority.
- “Hey Ron, cool baby”
- “The Pawnee Journal called it ‘Why would anyone do this?'”
- I rewound the banner unfolding three times for Larry’s reaction from the other side of the window.
- “The Kool-Aid guy makes it look so easy.”
- “It’s like Thanksgiving 2004 all over again, DON’T ASK.” I’ve fallen completely for Crazy Craig.
- “Or he pooped. Either way, well done, John.”
- One more of this, just because:
Next week, Leslie and co. work on a new slogan to further unite the two towns and our favorite Ron Swanon jazz sax alter-ego returns! Get your throwin’ panties ready.