By Parks and Recreation’s high standards, this is a fairly weak episode. But as always, there are plenty of great moments to still make it worthwhile.
Let’s break it down…
It’s unfortunate that such a disappointing episode comes this close to the season (and hopefully not series) finale. Usually this series builds to great finales for the few weeks leading up to it, but this feels like a sub-par stand-alone episode.
What’s worse is that this episode doesn’t work for the reasons that other recent episodes haven’t worked. Councilman Jamm (Jon Glaser) is back and he’s not an interesting foe for Leslie (Amy Poehler). Tom (Aziz Ansari) is too good for Mona Lisa (Jenny Slate), and it shouldn’t be this hard for him to extricate himself from her clutches. It worries me that the show is recycling its mistakes and not finding new arcs to move the story forward.
But as always, there are the little character moments and jokes that always make this show worth watching.
- Poor Ben (Adam Scott). Last week he gets overlooked by his wife in order to take care of Jerry (Jim O’Heir), and this week he gets taken for a ride by Andy (Chris Pratt) and turned into a scapegoat by April (Aubrey Plaza). But at least he recognizes it, and gets an opportunity to embarrass Andy on stage. Yes, Andy, the Beatles did have two lead singers. Sorry to steal Mouse Rat’s thunder.
- Speaking of April, we learn this week that she usually listens to “German Death Reggae, Holloween sound effects records from the 1950s, and Bette Midler. Obviously.” It’s these details that make April feel like a real person, and not just a caricature of a misanthrope. Especially since one of my own misanthropic friends is a fan of death metal with a secret stash of Celine Dion songs in her iPod.
- While Mona Lisa may be a bit extreme, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t a solid source of comedy, like when she shouts “How did I not know that Diddy was on Instagram, you jagweeds?” at Ann (Rashida Jones). She also gets the best moment of the episode: is there a better revenge than stealing someone’s birth control and screaming “Bitch, you’re gonna get pregnant!”
- Although Ann is a usually a grounded person, and Mona Lisa is so much crazier than Ann could ever be, it almost seems like a missed opportunity for Ann not to have a little fun with her. Ann is a much more interesting person when she’s allowed to cut lose, what with the streaking her hair red and making out with juicers post-Chris breakup.
- For once, one of Jamm’s lines actually made me laugh out loud. The line in question is his comeback to Leslie: “You know I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you racist!”
- The one moment that really lands emotionally is the scene between Ron (Nick Offerman) and Leslie in his office. Because while their dynamic isn’t any different than it usually is – did you know that Ron’s a libertarian? Shocker! – there’s a hint that Leslie’s life really might change. Leslie saw last week what kind of pleasant family life she could have if she was willing to make a few sacrifices with her career, and now she’s finally realizing how unromantic politics can be. Is the stage being set for Leslie to leave her city council job in the finale?
Your turn, fellow Pawneeans! What do you think is in store for Leslie in the finale? And would you break up with Mona Lisa for Tom in exchange for Chenille O’Neal? Sound off in the comments below!
The season finale of Parks and Recreation will air next Thursday at 9:30 pm EST on NBC.