Just when it feels as though Parks and Recreation might be hitting a bit of a slump, it comes back with one of the most romantic – yet simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny -episodes this season. Not every plot point unfolds seamlessly over the episode, but the sheer volume of gags and emotional development more than make up for those bumps.
Let’s break it down, and refrain from too much shrieking and giggling…
There’s no other place to start besides the proposal of the year, between one returning D.C. champion Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Councilwoman Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). There’s something so perfect about this proposal:simple and traditional while simultaneously unique to Ben and Leslie. Of course Ben drops to his knee and pulls out that box, and that’s enough to make the heart of every viewer flutter (and this cynical reviewer squeal with delight). But what makes this proposal particularly memorable is how well it fits Leslie’s and Ben’s personalities. Leslie forces Ben to pause so that she can savor each moment and cuts him off with her “yes” even before he finishes asking her to marry him. Even when she’s being proposed to and has never been wooed like this before, she can’t help but grab the reins and take control, which is (part of) what we all love about her. And enough credit can’t be attributed to Amy Poehler, who sells Leslie’s excitement with every bone in her body in this scene.
The episode isn’t without its flaws, and one of them even detracts from the proposal ever so slightly. It is romantic that Ben ultimately chooses to propose to Leslie instead of taking a position running a gubernatorial campaign in Florida, since that would be a big step up for him career-wise. But forcing Ben to make this kind of choice feels a little like an afterthought by the writers. Not only is this candidate not someone Ben would choose to work for over Leslie again, but the opportunity hasn’t even been mentioned until this episode. The writers could’ve easily risen the stakes for Ben’s choice by floating the possibility of this job in an earlier episode or by making the candidate someone Leslie and Ben would’ve wanted to politically support because they share the same ideals or optimistic outlook. Instead it seems pretty obvious that he’s return to Leslie.
The auction that the Parks and Recreation Department stages for Jerry’s (Jim O’Heir) behalf is filled with some great bits. The amount of crap that Anne (Rashida Jones) has compiled from her failed relationships, like her grunge-phase tee shirts from her Andy (Chris Pratt) days, is both tragic and fantastic, and Tom’s (Aziz Ansari) Rent-a-Swag idea is absolute genius. Jim O’Heir deserves recognition for his commitment to the seriousness of Jerry’s heart attack scored to the most epic string of farts on a sitcom ever. But Leslie’s leap from auctioning off Perd Hapley’s new book (which I am determined to find and buy somehow) to auctioning off Anne to potential suitors is a bit of a stretch. Her call with Ben does shake her up, but how does selling off Anne to a man who wants to get Thai food and a tank of nitrous gas with her follow from that?
Diane (Lucy Lawless) and her two princesses return this week to upend Ron’s (Nick Offerman) life, and they couldn’t be more welcome, at least to the audience. Offerman and Lawless have palpable chemistry, and Ron trying to apologize to Diane for breaking her daughter’s crown by offering to teach them to saw is cute. I just wish that the two of them and the girls had more scenes together. The Trick-or-Treating scenes are funny, but because there are so many other plot points to hit in this episode, the Diane-Ron storyline seems as though it was cut to the bare minimum.
- Costume of the night: Leslie as Rosie the Riveter. Both adorable and empowering.
- If you don’t already do so, follow Retta on Twitter @unfoRETTAble. Like Donna does in this episode, Retta live tweets her reactions to TV episodes, current and classic hits, and they’re worth reading whether you’ve seen the shows or not.
- I wish there could’ve been more time in this episode just to listen to Andy’s observations: “Tree, leaves, night, sky, hand. Andy’s Hand.” Who knew how astute this aspiring police officer could be?
It’s your turn, fellow Perdverts! Who’s ready for another Parks and Recreation wedding? Will Rent-a-Swag take off? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 9:30 EST on NBC