Parks and Recreation
Season 6, Episodes 3: The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip-Off Classic
– Posted by Sage
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. My school district was a mix of middle-class suburbs and rural neighborhoods, with an economically-depressed “city” right next door. Within our little town, there was always tension between kids (and adults, truly) of different means, but we could all agree on one thing. There was another town about twenty minutes away where everyone was richer than all of us, and we hated them. “Cake eaters,” we’d sneer. (Because we learned all of our insults from really dramatic 1950s teen movies, apparently.) This was our Eagleton.
In fact, everyone there looked remarkably like Kristen Bell’s character Ingrid De Forest, Eagleton City Council member and recent pregnant beauty queen. She and Leslie hold a press conference together to place the traditional, annual bet on the titular high school basketball game. (Pawnee’s worm-filled apples vs. Eagleton’s crystal oranges, but really, can the two be compared?) Leslie’s in a touchdown-dance kind of mood, because she correctly predicts that uniting Pawnee against the cake-eaters will give her some traction in the recall fight. She prepares an insult-comic style routine that goes over like gangbusters and is ready to follow it up with a Jeff Foxworthy-inspired set (another perfectly terrible Poehler impression), when a wrench is thrown into the works. It seems that Eagleton’s careless spending habits and high standards have gotten them into some financial hot water. This looks like a job for Butch Count-sidy, the Sum-dance Kid, and their trusty mathematical sidekick, a calculator that Ben definitely didn’t give a cute name. Nope. Never.
Leslie goes off the rails, as she always does when Eagleton is involved. She’s ready to see Eagleton go down and to dance upon its grave (“How do ya like THEM apples?”), as much for her personal vendetta as for the public opinion boost. And, as in the Wreston St. James debacle, Ben is stuck between supporting his wife’s lifelong blood feud and being a rational human, as impartial as a Pawnee transplant can be. I do think that Ben should have told Leslie that he was meeting with Ingrid and her team instead of doing it behind her back. But Leslie was also on her worst behavior for most of this episode and surely wouldn’t have taken it well.
We know that when Leslie feels powerless, she becomes The Steamroller. She did it when she didn’t like where she stood with Ben and she’s doing it now as she’s lost her footing in Pawnee. It’s up to her friends to reign her in before she drives everyone away. What kind of a MONSTER would kick a dressage horse after a failed pas de deux, anyway? Ben, who is always on Leslie’s team, encourages her to do the right thing instead of the easy thing. All good Pawnee will that was generated from the “Suck it, Eagleton” campaign is out the window when Leslie announces that her town of “greasy, denim-clad angels” will be absorbing Eagleton and sharing its debts. It may very well lose the recall election for her. But at least that gives us an excuse to book Josh Groban for a “You Lost the Recall Election” Brunch. What? We’re not animals.
Ron probably would have had some wisdom to impart, but he was too busy removing every digital and analog public trace of himself. A circular delivered in his name to Diane’s house stirs up the privacy-crazed beast within, and he enlists Donna and Tom’s help to get him off the grid. HOORAY: A TOM AND DONNA STORYLINE! I demanded more Retta AND an integrated Tom Haverford plot in my “London” recap, and I got them both. It was all gold: “I love the grid – it’s where I meet 40% of my jump-offs.” The “Quest for Coffee” hashtag. Ron’s complaint about the prevalence of his photo on local restaurant walls. (“Why is everyone else so bad at eating?”) And, of course, Tom and Donna Vining their own reaction to Ron’s accidental Vine.
The third Mrs. Swanson loves Ron for who he is, but understandably is a little perturbed when he takes himself so far from the grid that she can’t get in touch with him. Living inside a mountain isn’t an option for Diane, but a Lewis-Swanson only phone line is for Ron. Tom can barely contain his horror at Ron’s belt clip for “the original phone,” which looks suspiciously like a distant cousin of our old friend Doctor Buttons. Diane and Ben should form an Understanding Spouses Club, you guys. Ben’s got his own stuff going on (remember Requiem for a Tuesday?), but Diane is easily the most well-adjusted human in Pawnee. If anyone can keep Ron from becoming a fully fledged anarchist hermit, it’s her.
Random Thoughts and B-Stories
- I love when Leslie reminds her friends and family what they “tacitly” agreed to by associating with her.
- The third storyline of the episode brought April Ludgate Kevorkian and her nemesis Ann Perkins together for a road trip to April’s vet school orientation. The whole point of that plot was to put the idea of moving to Bloomington into Ann’s head, but I’m really disappointed that April decided not to go through with vet school. I don’t know what that means for her future. Is she going to stay in civil service? I’d rather she’d follow her own path than become a mini-Leslie. It’s more true to her character.
- “We purchased HBO for the whole town.” “I’m sorry, you used government money to buy a TV subscription for the whole town?” “It’s not TV…”
- “Why do you people keep assuming i’m ready to catch things?” Oh, J-Shot. Never change.
- “I hate the one-at-a-time system!”
- I, like Benji, don’t know much about sports-type things, but Chris Bosh’s cameo as a member of the Eagleton High basketball team wins.
Straight off the heels of the premiere’s many assaults on our emotions, “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip-Off Classic” was a return to comedy business as usual. What did you think of the episode? Is it hard for you to see Leslie at her worst? Comments go in the comments section, jsyk.