The stakes may not be all that high in this bachelor/bachelorette party episode, but who needs stakes when we get to see four guys dancing and singing together in the car to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop?”
Let’s break it down…
It’s no surprise that the highlights of “Two Parties” are the bachelor parties that the men of the Parks department host for each other on the eve of Ben’s (Adam Scott) wedding, but not for the reason you’d think. Instead of heading out on a night of Hangover-esque debauchery, the guys spend a night just hanging out and having fun. The stakes are pretty low in this episode – Chris (Rob Lowe) just wants each of the guys to have the bachelor party they’ve always wanted – but the pure joy on Jerry’s (Jim O’Heir) face as he gets a second ice cream cone and on Andy’s (Chris Pratt) as he catches a pass from Andrew Luck are infectious. And there’s nothing more bromantic than seeing a crowd of guys hug each other after scoring a point (even if Ron would have a heart attack to know that any of his actions was ever described as “bromantic”).
What gives this episode a little more heft is how it shows how much Chris has changed this season. Apparently all that therapy he’s had is working, because Chris isn’t simply a pleasant, optimistic guy anymore. This episode we see that he genuinely cares about everyone around him. He wants to give his friends a fun night and knows them well enough to know how to make their outing perfect for each friend. And that includes going back to the gas station to pick up Jerry when they realize that they left him there the next morning. So when Ben pushes Chris to get closer to Shauna Malwae-Tweep (Alison Becker), it doesn’t feel like a romantic pairing wedged into the episode just to give Chris a happy ending, but a logical result of the positive changes Chris has been making all season.
Likewise, the A-story of Leslie’s (Amy Poehler) attempts to curb Councilman Jamm’s seizure of Lot 48 isn’t all that tense. But it is an excuse to bring back another memorable Pawneean, Ken Hotate (Jonathan Joss). The ways that he exploits Leslie, Anne (Rashida Jones) and Councilman Jamm’ fears of being un-P.C. are fantastic. The thinly veiled panic on Leslie and Anne’s face as they try to figure out whether he’s joking about going back to his long house to smoke a peace pipe is priceless. Even funnier is how excited April (Aubrey Plaza) is about the prospect as she eagerly shakes her head yes.
- April is really changing in leaps and bounds. While she’s determined to loathe Anne for the rest of time (and really, no one would want their dynamic to be any other way), April is quickly becoming one of the most mature characters on the show. She is the one to point out that Leslie wouldn’t like winning over Jamm by using the Wamapokes, and she even genuinely seems to care when she asks high-school-classmate/Lincoln-stripper Glenn how he’s doing.
- Jim O’Heir is the episode’s secret MVP. He has so many great blink-and-you-miss-them moments, like actually looking at his watch when Tom (Aziz Ansari) tells him he can’t speak for ten minutes, to the look of fear and sympathy he gives to Chris as Andy tells his story about Chris and April marrying after he “dies” and tracking him down to kill him.
Your turn! Do you think April’s starting to get too soft or do you like this less murderous side? And is the ice cream in Ron’s mustache the greatest sight gag the show has done yet? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC