Our Pawneeans did a lot of growing up this week, each in their own strange and funny way.
But first, OMG! After a lovely opening image of our power couple, Ben and Leslie, dreaming about occupying the White House one day, Ben sprang a little surprise on his bride-to-be. No, it was not “a waffle tower,” as Leslie hoped, but a heaping helping of Joe Biden—VPOTUS in the house! The exchange between them was, dare I say, priceless. Leslie caressing Biden's face, telling him how very handsome he is, then getting confused and thinking he was offering her Hillary Clinton’s job! The scene was a perfect example of how Parks and Rec mingles the real and the fictitious to make the world of Pawnee a little more tangible.
Now back to the moral of the story... Leslie and April have developed an odd, but endearing, mother/daughter relationship in the past few seasons. And this week April stepped up and pulled a Knope, which I will define as taking a stand for something you believe in. Leslie couldn’t have been more proud... until April’s idea conflicted with one of Leslie’s. Which brings us to the crux (and title) of this week’s episode, "Leslie vs. April." The pupil challenged the master, with April employing Leslie's own tactics, and after Leslie consulted with Ron about how he dealt with Leslie when she fought against him (answer: distraction), Leslie pretended to be interested in April’s interests—cue the laugh-out-loud weird performance art scene. But it seemed that Leslie had trained her protégé too well, and April saw right through it—cue the battle royale! Which in this case was a city council meeting where April pulled out her ace, Councilman Jamm (who, btw, has the craziest awesome hair in Pawnee). In the end, Leslie actually conceded to April in some respects, showing Leslie's growth and making way for what could be the next generation of the Pawnee politico. Ludgate 2020?
Meanwhile, our idiot, the sweet Andy Dwyer played policeman in an attempt to identify the thief of his computer. The situation highlighted a part of growing up that many gloss over: fantasy. Andy had an idea of what it meant to be a policeman, but suffered a rude awakening when he saw that it was more about "writing things down" than playing Burt Macklin. His silly struggle to find the culprit only highlighted that maybe he isn't suited for police work. And Andy took off his shirt—which, as we learned, he does when he gets upset—Chris offered him a job as the Parks Department's weekend security guard, to see if he enjoyed protecting and serving, even in a limited capacity. And thus began Andy's growth spurt, and the man-child became a man-teenager.
Ben’s arc in this episode saw him readjusting to life in Pawnee, which ultimately led him to him returning to his old job at the accounting firm. But first he helped Tom with Rent-a-Swag—and everywhere the pair went, it seemed the “nerd” was getting all the kudos and different, more exciting job offers, leaving our Tommy in the dust. Tom began to realize that his charm would only take him so far in Pawnee, and that Ben’s hard work and practicality paid off. Mr. Haverford finally had his “aha” moment, and it will be fun to see whether Tom’s character changes in future episodes because of this newfound awareness. And Ben had a breakthrough, too: In stepping back into his old job, he realized that he had changed, and that means knowing when not to fall back on security if it won’t make him happy.
I love being surprised, and Parks and Rec consistently succeeds in surprising me. Not just with the comedy, but with the great character turns; each week the writers add more depth. "Leslie vs. April" brought a lot of things full circle, especially with Lot 48—a.k.a. what used to be “the pit” behind Ann’s house—being the bone April and Leslie were fighting over. There is always a real human emotional element to this show and this episode had it in spades.
– Do you like how Ann is becoming more aggressive for the things she wants?
– I now think that the word “waffle” is slipped into every episode. Will someone back me up on this?
– What do you think Andy’s perfect job in Pawnee would be?
– Is it me, or was this episode lacking in the Ron Swanson department?