Coming off of the idea of failure in the last batch of episodes, this batch showed characters moving beyond it, and finding ways to make their current situations into as much as they can. Instead of accepting her role as lame duck, Leslie transformed herself into a flame duck, because “this duck is on fire!” (I’m thinking someone should rewrite that Alicia Keys song as the theme for Leslie’s last month in office.) Tom moved on from Rent-a-Swag by helping Leslie to rebrand fluoride, first as #TDAZZLE, then as H2Flow (which Leslie is like 95% sure is fluoride…). Not only that, but he put his swag abilities to good use to help Donna (Regal Meagle Realty - “Find Your Castle”) get Ron some good offers on his cabin. Ben rebuilds his self-esteem as the King of Accountants, and then accepts the position of City Manager, beginning after Chris leaves. Lesson here folks, just because you think you’ve peaked, doesn’t mean you should give up. You never know what you can do unless you keep trying. (These are the kind of cheesy aphorisms you spout when you watch Leslie Knope take on the world.)
Noticeably absent in both episodes was Leslie’s favorite smoky-eyed friend, Ann - if she’s going to be gone so soon, why send her on exploratory trips to Ann Arbor while we’ve still got her? Had I my druthers (and I rarely do), I’d choose more pre-Michigan Ann than Chris. I’m sure it was a scheduling/money thing, but Leslie without her ethnically ambiguous sounding board and all around supporter is going to be pretty sad, and I’d personally love to see more of their interactions before the big separation. That is of course, unless Leslie gets that Pawnee/Ann Arbor bullet train set up.
There may have been an April/Donna storyline in the past, though I certainly can’t think of anything at the moment beyond Donna restoring the computers after April deletes everything in the department. It was not only a unique character pairing, but a very grounded story. Donna knows all about April and how she operates in her dark, twisty world, and yet April only knows that Donna’s pretty and likes make-up. Donna actually called April out on her lack of knowledge about Donna - one of the few instances where the negative aspects of April’s closed-off, antisocial behavior actually come to light on the show, as opposed to just being used for laughs. April puts in the work to try and figure out what dog Donna would be, and eventually realizes she’s not a dog at all - she’s a cat. The past few episodes have featured some interesting character mixes, and whether that’s just because of cast availability, or to open new storylines, I’m all for exploring the less-seen relationships.
Crazy Craig is back! It’s a good thing he’s only used in small doses, because otherwise I’D have to go rest for a FULL HOUR. But like many of the crazy Pawneeans (in this case, former Eagletonian), Craig is alright in bite-sized pieces. But a full entrée of Crazy Craig would undoubtedly be a bit much.
Jamm, Jamm, Jamm. What is your deal buddy? You’ve got a burning desire to vanquish Leslie, you have a strange and extremely uninformed infatuation with Asian culture, and you’re a lonely, lonely guy. I’ve got to say, it’s been hard to see why Jamm has always had it out for Leslie on principle, and these episodes didn’t really get to the bottom of that. But they did touch on how lonely he is - the poor guy even thinks Leslie’s his best friend, which was a truly heartbreaking moment. Even though, as Chris says, he’s “a big mean dope.”
Ben so often plays the straight man in group situations in Parks, giving the Jim Halpert looks to the camera. However, when he’s in his own storylines, his true nerdiness gets to SHINE through. After getting fired due to Leslie’s public denouncement of his employer Sweetums (and unfortunately not through his own embezzlement), Ben once again returned to the accounting firm where they appreciate his corny accounting humor, and basically idealize him overall. His accounting genius wins over even the affections of stone-faced Frank, and they all throw him a pizza party, except WAIT, it’s not pizza, IT’S CALZONES. Fortunately for Ben’s future, and unfortunately for his accountant disciples, Chris informs Ben that he could have the job of City Manager - “100% certified for realskies.” This leaves Ben to then once again turn away from the firm that loves him so much, particularly Barney. Luckily he gives them a consolation prize in The Cones of Dunshire, which was great, because A) He clearly didn’t want to throw it out, and B) All of the accounts shouting “I call Ledgerman!”
Alright, this may not have been short, but it was certainly short-er than others. If I missed something in my (relative) brevity, talk about it in the comments below!
- Chris’ celebrity parenting books, including “Are You Going to Crawl My Way” (Lenny Kravitz) and “ I’d Like To Solve The Puzzle, Of Parenting” (Vanna White)
- Ron liking Moby Dick for its lack of symbolism. It’s just a man that hates an animal.
- Chris definitively standing up and unexpectedly saying “No.”
- “I’m not singing “Beauty School Drop-out,” it’s sexist, and I don’t do slow-jams.” - Leslie
- Donna’s favorite color? Gold for cars, red for shoes.
- Leslie’s horror at Ben’s unemployment project, The Cones of Dunshire.
- “We can watch the shadows get longer.” - Ron
- Leslie rocking a lime green pantsuit even though she’s an Autumn. (I wish I could rock a lime green pantsuit. That’s a skill.)
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