Here's a bit of TV math: If Jonathan Banks plays both Ben Wyatt's dad on Parks and Recreation and Jay Pritchett's brother on Modern Family, then surely that means Ben's cousins are Claire and Mitchell which... would actually make a lot of sense, and would so be a crossover I'd watch in a heartbeat. In this totally falsified timeline, it also evens out that both Jay and his brother got divorced from uptight blonde women and are now dating much younger -- not to mention pregnant -- ladies. Though I guess this would also mean that Breaking Bad's Walter White basically ruins everything for both family which... also makes a lot of sense. But I digress.
I smiled and laughed the whole way through "Ben's Parents" -- except for the part when Leslie's unity quilt got destroyed, which genuinely made me sad -- and now feel confident in my many previous assertions that this was going to be when Season 5 started getting really good. Before we get into it, I'd like to share a theory postulated by TWoP intern Sam Rullo: the writers are planning to get April pregnant (that sounds so dirty!), based on the fact that they've been showing how wonderful Andy is with kids. There's also the fact that they're great parents to Champion (love having him back!), are both venturing on career paths that they take pretty seriously and that they totally have a lot of sex. It feels a bit far-fetched since April is relatively young, but I think it's an interesting prediction and worth sharing. Now, let's get to the grading:
Leslie and Ben: B+
The cold opening with the non-conflict diamond and Chris wanting to break the news "for the first time" to everyone with his best friends was adorable -- Andy's "Again?! You guys!" was one of my favorite moments in the whole episode, which does lead me to realize that as much as I enjoyed this storyline, Leslie and Ben were playing straight to everyone else's crazy. In any event, I loved everything about the engagement party (how beautiful did Leslie look!?), and think Parks & Rec casted Ben's parents absolutely perfectly. Also, I'm totally Team Wyatt in Twizzlers over Red Vines, FYI.
Leslie's Best Line of the Night: "I grabbed all of the brownies from the dessert table and four bottles of wine. Get in the car, we're going to Australia."
Ben's Best Line of the Night: "Well, if there's anyone who can bring my parents together, it's... no one! No one can ever bring them together!"
Tom, Ron in Sixty Seconds and Jean-Ralphio: A+
There are a few reasons why the Rent A Swag presentation plot hit it out of the park for me: We got to see a little bit of leftover Entertainment 720 fairy dust, but also got Tom really experiencing serious character development, too; the reveal that Ron has a bunch of money to burn opens up some more opportunities for him down the road; that incredible standoff between him and Ben's dad over the bacon-wrapped shrimp (I need to know who won); Ron's horrified face when Jean-Ralphio free-associated over him were; and seriously, the fact that Jean-Ralphio is perfection defined. Googling Amanda Byne's sideboob? So gross, and so genius of the writers.
Tom's Best Line of the Night: "Sometimes you got to work a little so you can ball a lot."
Ron's Best Line of the Night: [After batting away Jean-Ralphio from trying to eat shrimp off of his plate] "Rethink that move, son."
Jean-Ralphio's Best Line of the Night: "Tommy T, you just missed the craziest of crazies: Clubs, girls, dancing, naked, mom!?, argument, police, feeling the scene, hiding in a dumpster, coming here, crashing on your house for a week 'cause [singing] technically I'm homeless."
Ann, Andy, April and Chris: A-
I'm not sure where the writers are going with Chris after several storylines of him being manic, but I did really like what we saw of him in this episode, so I'll let it pass for now -- especially thanks to beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox/lesbian nurse Ann, who was just great from the moment she tried to pretend she didn't see Chris crying alone outside. Champion licking the tears off of Chris was amazing, and April and Andy's attempts at creating the perfect storms of emotions was really funny. Andy and April were great in all of their scenes, really -- I could watch their interactions during the Rent A Swag presentation all day.
Ann's Best Line of the Night: [On Chris calling her the Queen of Toilet Humor] "That's all I ever wanted to be."
Andy's Best Line of the Night: [Happy thing] "Dave Matthews Band!"
April's Best Line of the Night: [Sad thing] "Dave Matthews Band."
Chris's Best Line of the Night: [To Champion, through tears] "You are such a brave, good dog! So much spirit and you've overcome so much. You are the most wonderful dog in the whole world and I am so happy for you!"
Jerry and Donna: A
They were nonentities in this episode, but I'm giving them a great grade because they were part of the scene where the whole gang crowded around Leslie and Ben for a toast/Ben-threatening session which may or may not have totally made me cry a little bit.
Jerry's Best Line of the Night: "You better not be."
Donna's Best Line of the Night: "There, there, baby boy. Take all the time you need."
Honorable mentions: Of course credit goes to the titular Ben's parents, Julia and Steven (what does it say about me that I refer to the actors as Mike Ehrmantraut and The Mom From Mr. Holland's Opus?), the wise and inappropriate Marlene Griggs-Knope and the cheerful(ly-named) Ulani. There's also the Taxi Driver who will let you do whatever you want for another $100, as well as the aforementioned Knope-Wyatt Unity Quilt. Ben's patch with a cell phone with a heart in it and a Game of Thrones logo, along with a waffle patch and a square with just one little Joe Biden picture absolutely slayed me. Just two questions: When do we get to meet Ben's siblings Henry and Stephanie? And how excited are you for Joe Biden IRL next week?
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