Parks and Recreation

Season 4 Episode 9

The Trial of Leslie Knope

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Dec 01, 2011 on NBC

Episode Recap

In the opening, Ron is trying to buy something online, but becomes concerned when a personalized ad pops up. He calls April into his office for an explanation and his paranoia about privacy is agitated as April says the computer cookies learn and remember a user's history. When April shows him that GoogleEarth can pinpoint the location of his house, Ron throws his computer into the dumpster.

We then move to Chris's office, where Ben and Leslie have just admitted their romantic relationship to Chris. While Chris is happy that his friends are happy together, he is also upset that he now has to launch a full investigation into the extent of any suspected wrong-doing because of this relationship. He schedules an ethics trial for Leslie on Monday morning.

On Monday, Ben walks into council chambers at 6 A.M. to leave a surprise present for Leslie only to find Leslie already there; she couldn't sleep anyway. Ben gives her a plushie of Lil' Sebastian, the mini-horse. Leslie loves it and wishes she and Ben could go through their ethics trials together, but Ben is barred from the chambers. However, he promises to stay just on the other side of the chamber wall. He points to indicate where he will be, but finds himself looking at a painting of a horrifically scarred man. Leslie is reassured by his promise, and then explains to the audience that the painting is of a famous past Pawnee lawyer whose face was blown up by dynamite in a rock quarry.

Two hours later, the council and Chris arrive in chambers. Although Chris appears cheerful, he reveals that he is fervently trying to fight depressionbecausehe has to drag an admired and respected colleague through an ethics trial. He proceeds to unload a duffle bag full of medications and vitamin boosters, and takes them throughout the trial.

The council brings forth the subject of the trial and Leslie states that fully admits to the relationship which violated Chris's rule about dating someone who oversees her department, but denies that any further wrongs were committed. She then gives the audience another lesson in Pawnee history, acknowledging a painting of a woman standing on an ice floe in the middle of a lake. This woman exposed her elbow outdoors, which at the time was a class-A felony. Although this woman felt the law unjust, she admitted to breaking it and quietly accepted her punishment to be set adrift on Lake Michigan. Leslie admires the woman's calm attitude.

Chris proceeds to ask Leslie some basic questions about her romantic relationship with Ben. Leslie is open about when the relationship began and is confident she received no special treatment at work because of itand that she broke no laws in trying to cover up the relationship. While Chris seems satisfied with her answers at first, the council then reads aloud Chris's plan for bringing 14 witnesses into the trial. Leslie isshaken by this number, and Chris reveals that he doesn't believe any of what she just said is true about her relationship with Ben and these witnesses will prove it. Leslie is shocked at the kind of charges Chris is trying to bring against her, and the council takes a ten minute break to diffuse the tension in the room.

During the break, Leslie assembles Andy, April, Ann, Donna, and Ron in chambers to help her refute all of Chris's charges. She tells Andy to bring her some evidence from her office, but the instructions for retrieval confuse him and April goes off to help him. Leslie then asks Ron to talk to all of the department heads and find out who Chris's 14 witnesses are. Because Ron is not committed to doing his job well, he does not knowthe names ofany of the department heads; Donna goes with him to lead him to the right people. Ann is asked to frequently text Leslie that everything is going to be okay. When all her friends have left with their missions, Leslie talks to the audience about the woman in the painting again. Only this timeLeslie heatedly explains that while she will accept a slap on the wrist, if she doesn't fight for her reputation, then she's going to go down in history like the condemned woman ("a frozen whore").

Ann is back in chambers with her laptop. She reassures Leslie that Ben is still on the other side of the wall. Ron shows up and says there is a rumor that Chris has a killer star witness. Leslie cannot fathom who this might be unless someone is going to lie on the stand. She asks Ron to find this witness and "silence" him.

The trial resumes. Leslie proves when her relationship with Ben began by asking Ann to open an email sent on the date in question. The email has an attachment which is an amateur video Leslie made in her excitement to tell Ann that she and Ben kissed for the first time (and that she also learned how to use iMovie.)

The next witness is Tom. Chris questions him about the kiss he witnessed Tom and Leslie share a few months ago (in a previous episode), indicating that Leslie has a habit of inappropriately dating co-workers. Tom explains that this is when an internet dating site had randomly paired them up and he jokingly pretended to be into the idea of dating Leslie. She then called his bluff by kissing him, but they never had any romantic contact before or since that day. Tom alsogets a little carried away byexpressing his distate in having a genuine romance with Leslie.

Leslie talks to the audience once more, reviewing the past several hours of the trial. When she called April as a character witness, April didn't take it seriously and dramatically accused the court-typist, Ethel, of committing a crime. When Leslie called Andy as a character witness, he nervously thinks he is trouble and confesses to stealing a laptop with every intention of returning it, but then he spilled food on the keyboard. Other than these hiccups, Leslie feels the trial is going well for her.

Chris brings forth a hotel receipt, submitted by Leslie for reimbursement. He implies that she is using government funds to pay for hook-up spots with Ben. With Donna as her witness, Leslie proves that she and Ben were using the hotel room as an office because city hall was being fumigated, and they needed to pull an all-nighter for federal grant proposals.

While waiting for Ron to present himself as a witness, Leslie talks to Ethel about her chances for a good outcome in the trial. Ethel gives her some odds, and Leslie wonders if it is ethical to bet on the outcome of an ethics trial. Ron enters and the trial resumes. Leslie tries to use Ron as proof of when she temporarily ended her relationship with Ben, but it involves stating Ron's address and he refuses to let that information end up on an official court record. He makes loud, incoherent noises every time Leslie talks so the court-typist cannot record the words.

Suddenly Ron ceases his protests, claiming to sense the presence of Tammy II. Chris confirms that she is the next witness and Ron flees the room having given no helpful evidence. Leslie thinks this is Chris's killer witness and expresses concern to the audience at having a "terrifying sociopath" against her. Tammy II takes the stand and claims to have incriminating photographs that Leslie and Ben broke the law in concealing their relationship. Chris cuts her off mid-statement, however, to remind her that he will have her fired and prosecuted if she is lying. Tammy obviously changes the end of her sentence to recall her claims about the photos and leaves, wishing Leslie luck with the rest of the trial.

Leslie swaggers up the council desk, confident that she has proven her innocence in every one of Chris's claims against her. Chris states that he is very happy to be wrong in his accusations. Although he does insist that they call his last witness, George Williams. Leslie does not recognize the name, until the man walks into the room. He is thePublic Works maintenance guy from Lil' Sebastian's memorial service that saw her and Ben kissing! Leslie worriedly admits to the audience that she did indeed bribe this guy to keep the relationship a secret.

George relates the events of that evening, saying he saw the two kissing, and that they later approached him, asking him to forget what he saw. Leslie and Ben then gavehim a gift certificate to a spa for his discretion. This does indeed prove that the couple bribed a city employee. Leslie makes a poor bid to discredit George by having him read a piece of paper without his eyeglasses, but it fails. She then asks for a 55 day recess to gather and check more facts. The council gives her thirty minutes.

Leslie gathers the entire Parks Department and has them hurriedly read through some local law books, hoping for an obscure loophole to protect her. No one is finding anything helpful, and Leslie desperately wants Ben, so Donna goes to fetch him. She returns saying Ben has left the spot where he promised to be. Disheartened, Leslie stares at a mural in the chamber. It has two halves that represent all the good events and all the bad events in the town's history. She tells Ron that she belongs on the bad side. Ron insists that Leslie is a good person, because even though she did something bad, she owned up to it, and is willing to learn from her mistake. She takes heart from this and calls off the search for a loophole, apologizing to her friends for letting them down. Everyone says that they like her even more for her conduct throughout this ordeal, and Leslie smiles at them. However, as the council returns to the chamber, Leslie sadly turns to Ron saying she is absolutely sure that she is about to be fired.

The council hands down the following punishment for Leslie: she will be suspended for two weeks with pay. The trial is over and Leslie still has her job. She is baffled by this outcome though and talks to Chris. He tells her that in the 30 minute break, Ben asked for a private meeting with the council and took full responsibility for the bribe and resigned. Chris apologizes to Leslie for having to put her through this ordeal, but his job is to protect the government from fraud and corruption. Leslie understands his position. He further says that he thinks she is the only person he knows who is worthy of Ben, and that she should read Ben's meeting with the council on the public record.

Leslie has Ethel read her the transcript. It contains a statement from Ben saying he thinks all of the lies and sneaking around were worth it because he loves Leslie with all of his heart.

A car pulls up to Ben's house. Leslie emerges and Ben is waiting on the porch, while snow falls all around. The two discuss their day and Leslie expresses her amazement that Ben resigned his job to protect her. He only hopes it won't negatively effect her campaign. She then reveals that she brought Ethel along to read a piece of testimony to Ben. Leslie reopened the case to make an official statement that she loves Ben. The couple kisses and Ethel begs a ride home.

The credit scene shows Jerry as a witness inLeslie's trial. She asks him to state his name for the record and he announces that it is Gary. Leslie is exasperated that he can't even get his name right, until Jerry produces official identification. He says that on his first day in the department, the boss mispronounced his name and Jerry didn't dare correct him. Flabbergasted at this news, Leslie is unable to concentrate on her line of questioning and dismisses Jerry as a witness.

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