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Parks and Recreation - GryzzlBox & Save J.J.'s - Review

With Ron and Leslie back together in their beautiful friendship, everything is right with the world! Except that it’s not, because GRYZZL IS DATAMINING! That’s right, the totally chill tech company is going through people’s…well, everything, and using that information for a variety of purposes -- including sending little drones (Amazon, anyone?) with personalized packages.

Most of the 2017 leaps in Parks world are relatively reasonable predictions (or totally bizarre pieces of media -- again, relatively reasonable), and Gryzzl’s world seems feasibly two years away. Everyone’s got the same device, hooked up to the same network, and their lives are controlled by one mega corporation. The best part of 2017? Tablets have a skateboard mode. Super bonus points for whoever brainstormed that fantastically odd fictional invention.

The datamining story is a great standalone, providing the viewers with Leslie and Ben doing their best undercover hipster couple, a hipster techie played with perfect loaded-genius-fueled-innocence by Jorma Taccone (Lonely Island!), as well as the only public forum in history that is NOT AGAINST Leslie and Co.  Honestly, if I were Leslie Knope, I’d just retire right then and there, because that will never happen again. Though if I were Leslie Knope I’d never retire ever, because I’d be Leslie Knope, so…there we are.  Leslie runs into her bit of good luck on that public forum front, conquering the prize that has so evaded her for years -- unanimous support. Ben also conquers one of his biggest foes -- public television. After that whole Ice Town debacle as a teen, Ben’s been completely hopeless when it comes to media. But even though it’s technically his fault that Gryzzl can legally datamine in Pawnee, he steps up on The Perdples Court* (*not a real court), and eloquently explains that while they can datamine, they clearly shouldn’t. Way to go, Ben! You’ve come a long way since your stint as an 18-year-old mayor with money management issues and dreams bigger than your pockets. That, after all, is one of the reasons that people don’t often elect 18-year-old mayors. But Ben’s not 18 anymore, and as Leslie points out, he’s done a lot for the town of Pawnee. Maybe it’s time for him to try out Mayorhood once more…

Side note: The scene where Leslie and Ron share stories and pictures from their kids’ lives over the past couple years is adorable. And we found out one triplet’s name! Sonia. Also, since Ron would rip up a photo rather than risk some random person seeing his child, it makes sense that when a creepy robot comes to deliver toys to his son, he’d shoot it down.

Back to April’s career quest -- since she blames her lack of direction on her internship with the Parks Department as a college student, she tries her best to dissuade the sullenest intern to leave and go do more interesting things. After Craig (again, the new Parks Director) reminds April that she should be grateful for the opportunities and guidance Leslie’s given her, she does a 180. More specifically, she asks herself WWLD (What Would Leslie Do -- can we get bracelets for this?), and canvasses the college with homemade cookies, gathering up new interns that are interested in the Parks department. April certainly does owe a lot to Leslie -- because while Ron encouraged her purposeful ineffectuality, Leslie saw her potential and gave her ever bigger responsibilities, until she eventually gave her a job in the National Parks Service. Sure, National Parks may not be April’s favorite thing, but the skills and experience that she has acquired since starting her internship ten years ago will surely help her on whatever path she decides to take next.

Andy fights as hard as Johnny Karate in order for the rights to his (locally)-famed character, with Tom as his agent. The two come up against Dax Shepherd as professional asshole, Hank Muntak -- ever heard of Selena Gomez? Well that was all his doing. No, it’s a different Selena Gomez. A brilliant guest spot, and a fun story, in which Tom distracts himself from his crush on Lucy by crying like a baby in order to help his friend/client, and Andy sticks up for the character he loves to play, even if it means he loses his job and becomes the janitor at the studios. Andy on a kids show makes so much sense -- he’s so innocent and kooky that kids would be (and are), super into it. Maybe he’ll make it off public access this year! Or maybe he stays local, because he doesn’t really seem to care where he plays, so long as everyone around can have fun with him. Speaking of which -- how did he train his little ninja posse so well? Those must be some pretty well-behaved little kids. In “Save J.J.’s,” Andy puts the ninjas to work to support the diner/attack Feinstein through TP. What a wonderful way to harness the destructive power of children into something positive, like annoying a toxic cologne company that’s set on kicking out local businesses.

Treat Yo Self 2017! It’s the best day of the year! Tommy treats Donna to a special Treat Yo Self: Beverly Hills Ed (which is relatively close to the exterior of Tom’s Bistro, distractingly on Sunset Blvd, but moving on). While the pair go ALL out in the extravagance department, from celebrity fish sushi (hi, Josh Groban!) to elbow bedazzling, the pair have changed a lot since the first televised Treat Yo Self, back in 2011. Donna’s endless string of mysterious and plentiful paramours have been replaced by her sweet finance, who enjoys simple things like store-bought cake. And Tom is now successful, slightly more mature, and has fallen quite hard for his former girlfriend/current employee, Lucy. Donna gives him some advice (as well as Jayden Smith’s shoes from Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch), telling him that if he wants to be with Lucy, he needs to tell her how he feels. With the confidence that comes with premium elbow bedazzling, Tom asks Lucy to join him at Donna’s wedding -- but not as a friend or to work (because that’s super weird, Tom), as his date. She says yes! That only took like 7-8 years.

Ron and Leslie are back together as a team! And they’re going to figure out how to make the Newport land a national park! Except that Gryzzl ups their offer and now the land is official sold, and the only thing that will make things better is breakfast food. But the best breakfast place in Pawnee the world, J.J.’s Diner, is going out of business because of stupid Dennis Feinstein! So Leslie and Crew, with nothing else to do, go to look at potential new locations in order to relocate the beloved restaurant. Of course, most of the affordable places are in the area of Pawnee that was under Councilman Dexhart’s control…so it’s mostly trash, raccoons, and pedophiles. Well, and Andy and April’s new digs/dilapidated shack.

I mentioned earlier that Gryzzl’s datamining story works well as a standalone, but the truth of the matter is, nothing is all that episodic this season. And yesterday’s news becomes a big ol’ PR nightmare for the tech company. Luckily for Leslie and Ron, Gryzzl’s in desperate need of some good publicity, and they can’t resist pre-graffitied buildings. So the whole ad hoc team puts together a proposal to get Gryzzl to buy the old crappy part of town to use for their campus, and then donate their earlier purchase to the government for park land. Because as Leslie Knope says, you’ve got to make a contribution in Pawnee. The last minute proposal is a truly classic Parks moment, and the efficiency and plausibility of their plan is filled with the excitement of progress. Time and time again, the people of Parks (Leslie in particular), come upon a brick wall standing in their way, and yet they keep going and knock it down, or build stairs up to it, or hoist a friend over it -- and those are the moments of positivity and possibility that make Parks the show that it is.

This final season is astonishingly cohesive so far -- perhaps it seems that way due to the double dose of episodes a week, though it certainly seems like a solid miniseries of a season. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I love the serialization of Parks and Recreation. Not only that, but the reoccurring bits and characters are always fantastic; J.J.’s Diner, Dennis Feinstein, Treat Yo Self, Sewage Joe, Bert Macklin, Dr. Richard Nygard’s advice, the public forums and the usual crew of (insane) naysayers. This is a complete world, and we get these wonderful snippets of it, but outside of those bits there are a whole host of crazy people in Pawnee, probably drinking kale in their milkshakes. That’s right, in their MILKSHAKES. This is what happens when you blend Pawnee and Eagleton, people -- you get milkshakes with kale. The best of both worlds?

It’s great to see Leslie back with her team, first Donna, then Ron, getting Pawnee all sorted out. Because if the Regional Director of the National Parks Service (Midwest Division), her employees, a kids TV star, a contractor, a real estate agent, and the City Manager can’t organize the development of Pawnee -- who can?

Does this mean the park is all tied up and Gryzzl’s out of the way? It does seem like it’s all getting wrapped up -- will the rest of the season follow the evolution of the land becoming a park? Or will it veer off toward a different story? Let us know what you thought of the episodes below!

About the Author - Kimberly
Kimberly is a big TV nerd - willing to talk any show, any time. Her tastes are various and sundry, but she’s got a soft spot for comedy. She currently writes the SpoilerTV reviews for Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and About a Boy.
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