Full disclosure: This episode was spoiled for me, so the whole time I watched "Halloween Surprise," I just wanted to get to the engagement already. It's frustrating, because this was supposed to be special. It was going to be my big night and it was completely ruined. Humph.
I really can't overstate how much I love the fact that Parks and Recreation stays true to character timelines, and how terrific the writers are at creating a believable relationship between Leslie and Ben (which is why, when we see Ron's over-the-top relationship with the Tammys, the juxtaposition is so freaking funny). Just last week I was already mourning the loss of Bleslie (yes, I just made that up), much like you do when you find out a longtime couple you were fairly good friends with called it quits in what seemed like a completely out-of-the-blue decision. These past few episodes, we really weren't shown what was going on in Leslie's mind during the breakup because it is literally part of her job and candidacy to set her feelings for Ben aside in order to fulfill her duties. Sure, "The Treaty" and "End of the World" gave us little glimpses of Leslie trying to make sense of it, but it wasn't until last night's "The Smallest Park" where she was finally honest with herself, Ben and, in turn, us.
I hate apocalyptic predictions. I don't find them quite as funny as the rest of the Internet does, and mostly feel anger toward them rather than an urge to laugh and throw an end times party. I'm not even a fan of "If you had one more day on Earth" questions, and when I saw that last night's Parks and Recreation was titled "End of the World," I feared it would be a particularly awful episode. The good news: I was completely wrong (and there was barely even any Donna in it!). The show handled the subject really well without exploiting it too much for the sake of storyline -- after all, I wouldn't put it past Pawnee to have been run by a "freaky cult" in the '70s. I especially credit Ron, who replied to Leslie's confession that if this was her last day alive she'd want to spend her time with Ben by dryly remarking, "Well, that's significant. The problem is, Leslie, the world's not ending tomorrow -- the sun's gonna rise right over there. It'll be a regular Friday and you'll be in the exact same position you were in before." It grounded the story in reality and is just one of the many reasons I find myself lost in the drama of Parks & Rec sometimes. Let's talk about that and assign everyone completely arbitrary grades.
Well, I guess I should have seen a low point coming. Sure, "Meet N Greet" was dressed up as a Halloween episode, but all of the post-weight loss sumo wrestler costumes in the world weren't going to cover this oddly written episode that served way more as a transition point than an actual story. This is what I get for treating "mah" self so hard for the past two weeks. (Also: Has anyone else figured out a way to replace the "yo" properly?) Here's why the episode didn't work for me, accompanied by some completely made-up costumes that better reflect the Pawnee ensemble based on their performances last night:
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