While the FBI may lose a great man with the retirement of Bert Macklin, Parks and Rec viewers receive a charming yet surprising episode.
Let’s break it down…
Looking back on this episode, I realize that none of the plotlines were particularly original for the series – Tom (Aziz Ansari) has been building Rent-A-Swag for a few weeks now, and Andy’s (Chris Pratt) Bert Macklin character and Leslie’s (Amy Poehler) attempts to build a park (and seething hatred for those odious Eagletonians) have been revisited many times over the past five seasons. But “Pawnee Commons” is so rich with details and full of unexpected little twists that it feels completely fresh. It also helps that it’s just a funny episode.
Take Leslie’s return to Wamapoke County Public Radio. It’s not all that different from her appearance on the show in the fourth season episode “Born & Raised,” but the spot-on NPR jokes make it one of the most laugh out loud cold-opens of the season. And guest star Dan Castellaneta slayed me with his flat reading of “Research shows that our listeners love jazz.”
Likewise, the blood sport of hating on Eagleton usually grounds fun episodes, but it was a nice twist this week to see Leslie humble herself to ask Dutch-educated Eagletonian Wreston St. James to design her park. Even more interesting is that instead of ending with the expected insulting park design by Wreston’s underlings is that he actually designs a perfect park for Pawnee (although to be fair, I’m not sure how many Pawneeans would turn away those troughs of fast food).
One of the biggest surprises this episode brings is that this is the last we’ll be seeing of Bert Macklin. And as much joy as that character brings, especially when Andy’s role-playing with April (Aubrey Plaza), the joke was starting to wear thin. The writers made the right choice to have Andy retire Bert’s glasses. This way he doesn’t wear out its welcome and it gives Andy a little room to grow-up.
And last but not least? Anne (Rashida Jones) has a purpose in this episode! She once again reprises her role as the voice of inspiration/rationality/exposition, but at least it makes sense that she’s giving her pep talk to Tom (about not losing his swagger) as only an ex-girlfriend could.
- The runner-up NPR joke has to be the episode on dolphin lactation. And Amy Poehler is fantastic if only for saying her line with a straight face
- As great as Castellaneta is, my favorite return cameo has to be DJ Roomba
- Leslie’s response to being outed to Wreston about her Eagletonian heritage is downright Greek: “Do not blame me for the sins of my mother!”
Your turn! Do you wish you could’ve seen Andy’s existential crisis? Would you trust your beloved park to a backstabbing Eagletonian? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs on Thursdays at 9:30 EST on NBC.