This episode is a little bit trickier to write about than others. That isn’t to say that it’s any worse – it’s actually probably one of the best of the season – but rather it indicates how much of the success of this episode is based on it’s light mood.
Let’s break it down after the jump…
The stakes are not all that high in this episode – the characters all achieve their objectives so long as Ron (Nick Offerman) doesn’t sleep with his ex-wife, the Parks Department is nice to Jerry (Jim O’Heir) for once, and Chris (Rob Lowe) doesn’t lose all sense of self worth because he drinks full-fat eggnog. On paper, it should be a pretty dry episode.
But this episode has some surprising character development and revelations that make it engaging. The title shows just how much Ron has changed. Now that he’s with Diane (Lucy Lawless), the sudden arrival of Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally) doesn’t undermine his entire existence. He even openly tells her how he feels about her – he would even go to Europe with her if she wanted (but not France). And we get to see why it’s Diane that’s changed him. Diane is mature and confident enough to know that Tammy 2 is pulling a Basic Instinct and isn’t a real threat for their adult relationship whereas Leslie (Amy Poehler), who has an actual emotional connection with Ron, could be.
The least successful aspect of this story is actually Tammy 2, when she should be the most exciting and the funniest. Tammy 2 is just so over-the-top that in order to make her interesting each time she appears on the show, she gets pushed further and further. In this episode she ends up chasing Leslie around with an ax, and I just don’t buy it. Tammy 2 is actually funniest when she’s challenging Leslie as one of those heinous library people, because then the two of them are on equal footing and can have a fair fight.
Meanwhile, the Parks Department staffers all do a little growing up, too. Jerry bashing is always fun, especially for April (Aubrey Plaza) who likes to put glue in Jerry’s soup, and for Andy (Chris Pratt) and all of us at home. But sometimes it can go too far, and going out to dinner with money they save up from every time they make fun of Jerry is definitely one of those cases. It’s nice to see the group feel a little bit of remorse every once in a while, even as I staunchly defend that Jerry bashing should be in every episode.
The one problem is that the resolution to this story is lacking. Tom (Aziz Ansari) just hands Jerry the money they saved up for the dinner and apologizes. What…they couldn’t have actually done something for him or given him something for his Christmas party?
- I love the casting of Christie Brinkley as Jerry’s wife Gayle. I just wish that there could’ve been a way that it wasn’t spoiled ahead of time because the casting is the joke. The family is cute enough when they sing at the piano together, but Brinkley isn’t a strong enough actress to make any of her scenes all that memorable.
- No doubt about it, Ron fan-girling at the awards ceremony when he sees his woodworking hero Christian Becksfort (“The modern master of the Shaker style”) is simply the best moment from the episode.
- Of course, Leslie has a stance on using the b-word about another woman. And that is why we all love her.
- How has it taken five seasons before anyone came up with “Man Perkins”?
Now it’s your turn! How would you have spent the Jerry fund? And can you come up with any logical reason for Gayle to marry Jerry? Sound off below!
Parks and Recreation has finished airing its fall episodes and returns Thursday, Jan 17 on NBC