With this episode, Parks and Recreation puts to bed any concerns that the post-marital episodes would lose any of the series’ spark.
Let’s break it down…
‘Leslie and Ben’ closed up two of the season’s major story arcs. The eponymous couple gave viewers the wedding of the season and Lot 48 was declared the site of Leslie (Amy Poehler) and April’s (Aubrey Plaza) future park. Without those two touchstones, ‘Correspondents’ Lunch’ seemed slightly adrift, not selling the emotions or the comedy as well as the series usually does. But “Bailout” shows that we have no need to worry. This series still has a lot of life left in it, and more importantly, a lot of facets of Perd Hapley have yet to be explored.
The most entertaining stories involving Leslie trying to save Pawnee from itself are usually the ones in which Leslie has her heart in the right place, but her need to win and succeed trip her up. There’s no need for a one-note (albeit amusing) villain like Councilman Jamm when by her own ambition Leslie turns an arthouse video store into a government-funded porn shop. The utter horror on Leslie’s face when she realizes the truth of Brandi Maxxxx’s praise of Leslie for helping to bring about this adult film revolution in Pawnee is priceless.
The storyline’s success can’t be entirely credited to Leslie (and by extension Amy Poehler). No one can turn in a memorable giggle of delight quite like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). His satisfaction at seeing Leslie meet her own Frankenstein is downright delectable. And Jason Schwartzman shows surprising restraint and charm as Dennis Lerpiss. Schwartzman makes Lerpiss a likeable, sweet guy, even if by his standards Shoah is a lighthearted movie.
What is that I see? Ann (Rashida Jones) has her own storyline? And it’s FUNNY? That’s right. Her constant need to befriend April has at times exceeded plausibility, because after a certain point, anyone with a smidget of self-esteem would probably give up on this relationship. But in this episode, her Leslie-esque blind persistence towards making April like her is definitely charming. And Ann even instigates the best moment of the episode, provoking April and Donna (Retta) into singing “Time After Time” with her.
Everyone’s favorite Entertainment 720 entrepreneur Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) is back, and this time he brings his sister Mona Lisa (Jenny Slate) with him. If there’s a storyline that sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise fantastic episode, it’s this one. Mona Lisa is different enough from her brother that she doesn’t feel like a Jean-Ralphio redux, given her klepto/pyro/nympho tendencies. But while it would’ve made sense for Tom (Aziz Ansari) to date her a few seasons ago, it seems really out of place now. He’s finally starting to get his life together, opening his own seemingly successful business, and his only justification for dating this trainwreck is that he’s young and she’s not god-awful? Tom is smarter than that, and at the very least deserves a girlfriend nicer (and saner) than Mona Lisa.
- Did I miss something? When did Chris’s (Rob Lowe) contribution to the whole baby situation jump from sperm donor to active father in the baby’s life? Whiplash
- Classic Jerry (Jim O’Heir) moment: he finally gets the opportunity to say something significant and meaningful, teaching Chris that it’s the little things that make being a parent worth it, and he can’t even finish the thought without screwing it up. Trust Jerry to screw up communicating with another person on the most basic human level.
- Why isn’t Lights, Camera, Perd a real show? More importantly, is anyone working on the Kickstarter project for this series yet?
- Best dig of the night: Leslie’s assessment of slam poetry. “Anything can be a slam… poem…if you say it like this. Uugh, it’s pointless.” Perfect.
- Who else sang along with April, Donna, and Ann as they belted “Time After Time?” I proudly admit that all three of my roommates and I joined in the moment April started ripping into the song.
Your turn! Who wishes we could’ve seen a little more of Too Big to Nail? What kind of libertarian dirty talk do you think Dong Swanson uses on Brandi Maxxxx? Sound off in the comments below!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8:30 EST on NBC.