NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Parks and Recreation are present in this review.
Ben’s Congressional campaign is heating up in the second of two Parks and Recreation episodes this week. This paved the way for the latest bout of raw Pawnee absurdity, as both Ben and Leslie come under fire from various protest groups, according to how they respond to a tradition of politicians’ wives competing in a pie-eating contest.
Predictably, Leslie finds the idea demeaning and disgraceful, and refuses to enter. This nets her the praise of a womens’ group, but the scorn of Pawnee’s citizens, who think Leslie is trying to state that she is above tradition. When Leslie reverses her decision, the opposite happens. Even when the two come up with the neat solution of having Ben take Leslie’s place in the contest, eating a self-made calzone, they simply earn the ire of an extra ridiculous mens’ rights group, who believe Leslie is oppressing Ben into entering.
Naturally, the big theme of this episode is that politicians can’t possibly please everybody. No matter how good their intentions are, some people are going to hate on them. Some people are going to mis-interpret them. Some people just aren’t going to understand them. Given Leslie’s pathological people-pleasing tendencies at the best of times, it was very interesting to see Ben and Leslie both confront the separate reality that they will never make everyone universally happy.
The episode ends with the two resigning that they won’t please everybody, and ultimately walking away from the tradition. The clashing perspectives show Pawnee citizens new and old debating the action, but it all comes down to Leslie simply taking a podium, and answering all of the asinine questions that are even asked, specifically the tabloid questions about her hairstyle, her children and other such irrelevant things.
The biting satire in this episode was excellent illustrated, and it led to yet more Pawnee-flavoured laughs that succeeded incredibly well. The whole story was capped off perfectly at the very end of the episode with Ben being presented with the ‘Woman of the Year’ award from one of Leslie’s favourite organizations, following his actions at the pie-eating contest. Meaningless and token, yes, but funny and fitting, considering this episode’s subject matter.
Beyond that, Ron learns of April moving to Washington for her new job, and requests the key that he formerly gave April be returned. April recalls that she buried the key under the Parks office floor, and finds a note, along with four teeth, and a movie ticket for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Ron giddily reminds April and Andy about his love of puzzles, and vows to help track down the key using the clues provided.
After going through Donna, Andy’s former shoeshine stand (which now belongs to a very familiar City Council member), and more, the group is forced to admit that the key is lost… Until April remembers its location during a conversation with Ron, buried under a certain tree.
Despite the big find, Ron reveals that he has his locks changed every sixteen days, and that the key has been useless for many years now. The hunt for the key is symbolic of his special bond with April, whom he wishes to bid farewell in a memorable and fulfilling fashion. It was a very sweet conclusion, capped off with an amusing joke where Ron claims that he buried gold under the same tree… Or did he?
Another surprisingly sweet story bit came from Donna, who watches Garry try and fumble in a sewer grate, dropping his wedding ring, replacement wedding ring, keys, and pretty much everything else down the grate. Donna almost breaks the fourth wall in admitting aloud that Garry is taking her back down memory lane, back before the radical changes that have happened to the show’s personalities by 2017, and the two actually bond and appear to become friends. The result of this sequence was enjoyable as well, with Donna using her bond with the maintenance man to bring Garry back all of his lost things, which include about half his possessions, including even his cellphone!
Amidst the satire of Ben and Leslie’s arc, the show remembered to have poignant character moments as the final season of Parks and Recreation continues to tick down. Every moment was a winner however, once again beautifully demonstrating how well this show has always balanced great humour and strong heart simultaneously.
- Ben and Leslie's political battles over the Pie-Mary
- Ron and April's emotional scavenger hunt
- Donna going back to the past with Gary's clumsiness