After a week as insane as this one has been, there is no greater pleasure than spending a full hour with the parks department. Especially when the episodes are as fun and genuinely sweet as these two are.
Let’s break it down…
Almost any interaction between Leslie (Amy Poehler) and the (overly) passionate citizens who attend city council meetings are sure to be gold. But Garth Blundin is one of the most memorable, if only because he’s played by Patton Oswalt. He makes this potentially frustrating history nerd into a lovable and somewhat lonely defender of the Pawnee charter. And side note: if you haven’t seen Oswalt’s improvised filibuster in full yet, treat yourself to this 8 ½ minutes Star Wars/The Avengers nerdgasm. It’s brilliant.
Leslie’s insanely elaborate birthday and anniversary celebrations have always walked a fine line between thoughtful and obsessive, to the point that that they are almost a burden on the recipient. So the B-story in which Ann (Rashida Jones) and Ben (Adam Scott) address her gift-giving head on is particularly welcome. It’s also nice to see a story that uses Ann thoughtfully, instead of just as a side kick, as she tries to find Leslie the perfect Breakfast Day gift.
The last story of this episode is a fantastic showcase for all Chris (Rob Lowe), Ron (Nick Offerman), and April (Aubrey Plaza). Just in this episode, Ron gets to smack a chocolate bar from Jerry’s (Jim O’Heir) mouth, April indulges her klepto side, and Chris cheerfully dresses his team with conductors’ hats and leads them with his train whistle. The only problem with this story is that it could’ve used more screen time, to see April enduring Chris’s management training and watching both guys torture Jerry.
Making fun of Jerry, and Jerry absolutely deserving it and accepting it willingly, is one of the best running gags of this series. But one of the examples of how this series is a cut above the rest, Jerry himself isn’t just a running gag. We’ve seen a lot more of him this season than most, and in “Jerry’s Retirement,” we get to see that despite his bumbling exterior, Jerry actually has an enviable life. He has an unbelievably beautiful, blonde, and loving family, and he’s willing to sacrifice success at work in order to maintain it. And it also leads to a very humbling revelation for our aspiring POTUS Leslie Knope about her own inhuman commitment to her work.
It almost could have been the perfect end for Jerry’s character on the show, as he gets ready to retire. I can’t imagine that Jerry could have a moment as great as this again. But if only because of how it saves Tom (Aziz Ansari) from being the next Jerry, which would be infinitely less fun and more depressing, I’m happy that he’s staying around. And also because no one trips over a chair quite like Jerry.
Also, Chris and Ann are still trying to have a baby. Sigh. This arc has been dragged out for way too long. But at least they’re having sex now, so there’s something interesting to look at as they awkwardly discuss their eggs and sperm.
- What exactly do Leslie and Ann celebrate on Daniel Day Lewis Day? His fantastic Abe Lincoln beard? The E.T. joke Amy Poehler and Tina Fey made at the Emmys?
- Which is the April quote of the night: “My spirit blood is on your hands!” or “It’s my favorite kind of battle. Two men enter, one me leaves”?
- Which of Ben’s theories about Jerry’s marriage is more plausible: that Gail (Christie Brinkley) was forced to marry Jerry to maintain her Russian spy cover (a la The Americans) or that she has a kind of Oliver Sacks disease and thinks Jerry’s a friendly hat? I’m going with cult leader. I mean, they did sit around the breakfast table singing “Eggs, Bacon, and Toast” in perfect harmony.
Your turn! Would you volunteer to be Ted? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation returns next week on Thursday at 9:30 EST on NBC.