Ron eats a banana. Willingly. If that doesn’t pique your interest in this episode, nothing will.
Let’s break it down…
It’s nice that once in a while, Parks and Recreation can just relax and focus on what sitcoms do best: great jokes. “Animal Control” does just that, forgoing heavy plots in favor of deliciously funny lines and brilliant sight gags. Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas) returns as one of Pawnee’s most successful entrepreneurs and scent designer, and the names of his colognes are just fantastic. I can almost taste the sweaty grossness of “Butterface,” and “Blood Spurt” is intriguing – who else wondered what would’ve happened to Ben (Adam Scott) if he tried it on?
Also returning are Brett (Colton Dunn) and Harris (Harris Wittels, a Parks and Recreation producer), the beloved stoners of the animal control department. Their tour of the department with Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Chris (Rob Lowe) in the cold open is packed with perfect little lines, like Brett’s throwaway as he confuses a cat and an opossum. That they tried and failed to recreate the bird/work whistle from The Flinstones’ opening credits is genius. The one disappointment is that these guys have been fired just as April (Aubrey Plaza) is assigned the role of deputy director in charge of animal control – they definitely need to be in more episodes.
Of course, the best few minutes of the episode belong to the man himself, Mr. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). It’s incredible how utterly disgusting and demoralizing he can make eating a banana seem. The noises and faces that come out of that man are pure gold. If this scene doesn’t guarantee him an Emmy nomination at the very least, if not a win, I don’t know what will.
Unfortunately, this episode isn’t perfect – Councilman Jamm (Jon Glaser) rears his annoying, fro-covered head again. Although, surprisingly, he isn’t quite as obnoxious as he usually is. It helps that his presence in the A-story makes sense, as the council has to select a new animal control director, and that he isn’t given too much screen time. It’s just frustrating that he’s in almost every episode when there are other more interesting and funny characters they could be focusing on instead – even sexist/racist/every possible –ist Councilman Milton would be an improvement at this point!
April continues to grow, particularly with her new assignment as deputy director. This seems like an ideal new focus for the show, now that many of the goals set for the parks staff have been met with Leslie’s election to city council and the approval of the park on Lot 48 complete. We’ve seen the story of the staff coming together to save their department before on this show, when it almost was eliminated in season 3. But this twist is more interesting for a couple reasons: the animal control department needs to be entirely rebuilt, and April, not Leslie, is in charge of the whole thing. It’s a surprising new dynamic for the series, one that shows it still has legs this late in its run.
- Donna (Retta) smoking with her gentleman friends is pure bad-ass. You go, Donna.
- Second runner up for best facial representation of disgust: Ben Wyatt. While I don’t know what it would feel like for my organs to suddenly implode because of the sent of a perfume, Ben’s face told me everything I would ever need to know.
- Ann (Rashida Jones) grilling Ron about his medical history again is another beautiful string of jokes. The best gem was his response to her question about a history of mental illness in his family: “I have an uncle who does yoga.”
- Another great recurring character who should work for April at animal control? Orin. He could easily fill the role April used to play on this series, now that she’s turning into a real human being. And who doesn’t want to see more of Orin, who can control the minds of animals (and Leslie, allegedly)?
Your turn, fellow Pawneeans! Are you excited for April’s new post? Would you buy a Rolexus even if you couldn’t drive it? Sound off below!
Parks and Recreation returns for a full hour next week on Thursday at 9 EST on NBC.