Has there ever been a more adorable sight on Parks and Recreation than that of Ron Swanson cooing at his adorable infant son John Middle Name Redacted Swanson? What's that, you say? Ron has a son? Yes, that ever-so-secretive Ron and his wife Diane had their baby and Ron, much to the horror of Leslie, told no one. Unfortunately, it wasn't all cute mini-Swansons: there were also mass bee stings and Leslie getting a black eye. That said, all those instances (as well as an oft-repeated Tom storyline that might actually work this time) lead to something positive in the end… which is probably the first and last time I'll ever say bee stings did anything good for anyone. Damn you, bees. Here are the highlights from last night's light, but effective episode "The Wall":
With barely a mention of Ann and Chris or their recent departure, we pick right up with the rest of the Pawnee crew for "Anniversaries." While I liked a large part of this episode, the Game of Thrones ending filled me with a weird blend of happiness and anger and confusion, so I still don't know how I feel about it, but I do know that I love Ben Wyatt's stupid surprised face more than I should which goes a long way towards covering up any mixed feelings I may have.
It's been building up all season, but now "Ann and Chris" finally gave us the send-off for Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. And honestly, I'm glad it's over. Much as I occasionally love some of the Ann/Leslie moments or Chris/Ben moments, I hass long felt like these two were out of place in the ensemble for a while and just biding their time until they could leave with their baby for a far off land outside of Pawnee. While some might be sad that they are gone, I'm happy we can all get on with our lives and maybe return to the Farmers Market After Dark. That place just looked like a good time.
"Farmers Market" started out with a lot of things I don't like about this show -- like saccharine cute Ben and Leslie and annoyingly positive Chris and Leslie insisting that she's right about everything. But somewhere around the 15 chard or vegetable-related pun, it turned all of the things I don't like into positives and delivered a realer Ben and Leslie and a comforting Chris and Leslie coming up with a creative solution to a problem. As much as I griped about all the delays and the show being on hiatus earlier this year, I'm kind of glad as it means that the Chris/Ann departure that is scheduled for next week didn't air on the same night as Troy leaving Community. Not that I'm going to get weepy about either of them going at this point, but I don't need two shows with send-offs in the same night. Oh, and I realized that one big problem I constantly have with Parks is all the jokes at the expense of the townspeople. I get that they are unhealthy and supposedly obese, but the Farmers Market was filled with a ton of people of average and totally healthy weight. Same with all the town meetings. Do they just not have overweight people in Los Angeles to choose from? Can they not go do some network synergy crossover and steal people from The Biggest Loser ranch for a day? Anyway, on to the Farmers Market, where we learned that cauliflower is not just a dead tree.
You know that feeling you get on vacation when you wish you didn't have to come back home? I wish that we were still in Paris traipsing around with Ben and Leslie, eating unpasteurized cheeses and looking at famous spots from movies. Instead, "New Beginnings" brought us back to Indiana and back to work for Leslie. The episode dragged -- a lot. With far too much set-up for how Leslie has outgrown her position at the Parks department, Ben adjusting to his Jekyll and Hyde role as City Manager and Chris and Ann getting… not married but locketed, it all just felt a little bit forced and off pace. And aside from a few laughs (courtesy of Ben Wyatt and Ron Swanson), I spent most of the episode feeling really uncomfortable and wishing I could fast-forward to next week. I'm not even sure I can do best lines this week, since most of the stuff that actually cracked me up were visual gags.
The show is back to its regularly scheduled timeslot without the chaos of double episodes and long hiatuses that we endured last fall. And "Second Chunce" was just about adorably perfect, with a Kristen Bell appearance, just enough Jean-Ralphio, a super romantic gesture, Tom finally getting his act together and Andy back in town. Here are the best pairings of the episode:
After last week's double dose of Parks & Rec proved to be a bit of a mixed bag, I was more than a little skeptical about the "Fluoride" and "The Cones of Dunshire" pairing, but by in large these were much more solid episodes, really banking on what makes each character so strong and enjoyable in the first place. While "Cones" had a glimmer of sadness as Leslie lamented the inevitable departure of Ann and Chris, these episodes weren't as depressing as last week's "Recall Vote." And while I'm going to spend the hiatus trying to pre-order my copy of Cones of Dunshire and reading Are You Gonna Crawl My Way, I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle of Parenting and Rad Dads, here's my take on what really worked in these episodes:
I was beyond excited for a double dose of Parks & Rec after the long unexpected hiatus, but perhaps my hopes were too high. The "Filibuster" episode had me laughing really hysterically, much to my neighbor's chagrin, I'm sure. But "Recall Vote" fell pretty flat. "Filibuster" was filled with weird quirky sex kinks, '90s costumes, Leslie at her most earnest and had Andy and Orphan Black herself Tatiana Maslany. "Recall Vote" had a lot of Tom trying to be popular and a pretty lame Halloween theme that really felt out of place two weeks late. Here's hoping that next week's back-to-back episodes don't suffer the same fate.
Dammit, Jerry/Gerry/Garry/Larry! Don't ask us how it's his fault that NBC is putting Parks and Recreation more or less on hiatus until January 2014, but he is, we just know it. Sadly, that news is true: due to some infuriating schedule switcheroos, we won't get the new Halloween episode of Parks and Rec until November 14 so it can be preempted for episodes of The Voice and an SNL special. After back-to-back episodes on November 14 and 21, there will be a break and we won't see Leslie Knope and Co. again until January 9, 2014. While Adam Scott assured fans nothing fishy is going on, it was heartbreaking enough when we had to deal with the uncertain future of Parks and Rec, but now that we have it back, we can't actually have it? And, nice try, but none of this will get any of us to watch Sean Saves the World because, you know, we have eyes.
"Gin It Up" was a solid, if not spectacular, episode of Parks & Rec, but we may have been blinded by the appearance of the lovely and delightful Tatiana Maslany. The Orphan Black star was a great distraction from some of the less entertaining storylines of the week.
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