So, that was obviously great. All of my fears from "Emergency Response" started to melt away when Ron punched Councilman Jamm in the face, and completely disappeared (and turned to tears) when they had a quick pow-wow outside of the Parks Department room. As a person currently planning her wedding and doing some damage control after some malware issues possibly related to hacking, "Leslie and Ben" and "Correspondents' Lunch" came at a very good time for me, to say the least -- especially when it comes to forgetting your troubles, suspending disbelief and sinking into great TV comedy.
The funny sitcom hijinks were there with the whole gang rushing together, the sweet reflective moments were prominent and, like Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Mike Schur warned me earlier this week, I wasn't unsatisfied in looking for a good wedding episode of a television show... and I cried my ass off. (By the way, doing a conference call with those three was as delightful as it sounds.) Let's get to grading -- and for the record, everyone would get a big dopey A+ for "Leslie and Ben" and I think I've covered the episode as much as I can without just transcribing everything that happened and adding "Squee!" after it, so these grades reflect "Correspondents' Lunch."
Leslie, Donna and Jerry: B+
Leslie had a bunch of really funny reaction lines throughout the second installment, but I still think this storyline could have been a little tighter and way heavier on the Lord of the Rings pen pal letters. Still, it was fun to see Leslie in the spotlight with Donna and Jerry, and her press conference at the end felt straight out of Arrested Development to me, especially with, "I really thought you guys would gasp there." I love that she has a new enemy in the Pawnee Sun, and the callbacks there were outstanding. Donna was hilarious, and Jerry broke my heart when he stood in the corner and had to say no to the waitress offering him food.
Leslie's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "Ah! I just opened up a can of Whoop Ass on myself!"
Donna's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "Oh, you wanna compare numbers, Terlando? Get to steppin'."
Jerry's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "It's a little moist, but it is still here."
Leslie's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "Ron, listen to me very carefully. I lost my father when I was ten, I don't have any brothers and Ken Burns never wrote me back. So I am not getting married without you there to walk me down the aisle. End of discussion."
Donna's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "You nasty, Jerry."
Jerry's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "You may now kiss the -- well, oops, okay."
Ann, Ron and Chris: A-
I love how self-aware this storyline was about its sitcom yucks -- I think my favorite moment of the whole episode was when Ann triumphantly came back into Ron's office to talk about how everything wrapped up perfectly. On that note, I also appreciate how Chris's character balances his upbeat cartoonish dialogue and reactions with his more sincere, introspective side. I'm glad the Chris-Shauna saga seems to be over, given that timeline never quite made sense, but I'm still not exactly shipping Chris and Ann (again) just yet.
Ann's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "Grossest metaphor ever."
Ron's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "Stop talking and get out."
Chris's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "There is nothing more disgusting than an invasion of privacy, and I should know -- I've had many women steal my undershirts."
Ann's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "I've been watching a lot of Project Runway recently... in the past eight years."
Ron's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "I've never willingly been here later than 5:04 PM."
Chris's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "I hate to say this, but Ann Perkins has terrible taste in rings. What -- what is this? It's a toe ring with a brown gemstone? Is that a ruby that's gone bad?"
Ben, Tom, Andy and April: B
I imagine the writers were really proud to think of a great alternative career path for Andy now that he's not going to be a cop, but I'm not sure I buy that being an advisor to Ben entirely suits him. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong in the next few episodes. Otherwise, watching the Sweetums delicacies roll in was great and I laughed out loud seeing April with a bottle of Water Zero on her desk.
Ben's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "I really like helping people. Running the new Sweetums Foundation charity allows me to do that... and work in an office with more mahogany wood than currently remains in the Amazon rainforest. So, win-win. Except for the rainforest."
Tom's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "Sorry, forgot the oysters!"
Andy's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "I'm fine, it's just that life is pointless and nothing matters and I'm always tired. Also, I can't sleep. I've overeating. None of my old hobbies interest me."
April's Best Line from "Correspondents' Lunch": "He's always sad and sweaty. He's usually happy and sweaty."
Ben's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "I really want you to take my last name... Yeah, it's just really important to me symbolically that Leslie Knope disappears and becomes Leslie Wyatt. Or Councilwoman Mrs. Ben Wyatt. That's fine, too. It's a deal breaker."
Tom's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "Everything I wrote is wrong! There's like 20 minutes of Hitch quotes before I even say Leslie's name."
Andy's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "Oh my god, I'm not supposed to see you before the wedding. I ruined it!"
April's Best Line from "Leslie and Ben": "Found the marriage licenses and I'm going to take all of them. I don't want anyone in this town to get married because it makes it less special for us."
Honorable mentions: The Pawn Shop Guy, who warns you of the nails in the jewelry and nail tray, and was gracious enough to offer up his nipple rings; the Indiana Celebrity Lookalikes, with the best of the bunch clearly Bucky, the Li'l Sebastian lookalike (who is so magical that he made the horribly fake snow seem okay); Falcon and Turtle Dove, natch; Ben's Mom, from whom I would gladly accept a "Wine Chick" necklace; Tim Gunn, Borat and Neve Campbell for having such iconic voices; Ethel Beavers, the man-slayer that she is (but I'm so glad April and Andy weren't robbers); Butter Teeth, who should make an orthodontist soon; Councilman Houser, who always catches Leslie at her worst; Councilman Jamm, who was seriously amazing and his aunt, who was very kind to lend him her megaphone and better get it back; Champion!; Jessica Wicks and Nick Newport, Sr., who both translate beautiful to oil paintings; Councilman Milton, who really used ride to the correspondents' lunch on a horse and buggy... this is not a joke... that was also not a joke; Joan Calamezzo and Perd Hapley (whose spirit animal is "Doggy," which made me laugh so hard I had to pause and rewind); Pawnee Sun reporter Kim Terlando, who has "never seen Star Wars because [she] was too busy hooking up with guys, unlike you losers"; and, probably most importantly, the guy sitting over there in the courtyard.
As for the amazing inanimate objects of the night: Jamm's stink bombs were perfect, the letter from the Statehouse telling Ben and Chris they were assigned to Pawnee warmed my cold heart; DJ Roomba, who I hope is willing to travel for my big day; rat parts, the secret to Sweetums chocolate, Leslie's Can of Whoop Ass; the very prestigious Tommy's Tummy Foundation as well as Rural Ambu-Care and The Clean Sheet Foundation (which, I'll remind you, provides legal assistance to the KKK); and the tragically unseen "Top Ten Ben's Butt 2012 Slide Show."
And here are leftover quotes/thoughts I wouldn't feel right not mentioning:
Chris: "Oh, let me be on rings! I love what they symbolize."
Ron: "It would be an honor, and the first time I won't regret walking down the aisle"
Leslie: "If you're not gonna finish something three months earlier, don't accept the job."
Jerry: "Just a dab. I better go clean up... Third time this week."
Andy:"You have an amazing house and a really cool nightgown and seem to be super good at dating."
April: "Yeah, so can we adopt you as our grandma?"
Ethel Beavers: "Fine."
Andy and April: "Cool! We love you, Grandma!"
Jamm: "No one wants a park here, parks are stu-pid."
Chris: "I promised myself I was not going to cry tonight... and I've already broken that promise five times. But I will not break it a sixth."
Jamm: "Here comes the boo! All dressed in boo! Boo Leslie Knope boo boo boo boo... boo!"
Aw, the guys standing up ready to fight when Jamm called Leslie a "b-hole."
Jamm, on where he got a stink bomb: "Amazon, baby. That's how. You are looking at a Prime customer, everybody. Two days free shipping for this guy."
April: "Yay best wedding ever!"
Jamm: "I got five bathrooms."
Ron: "You are a wonderful person. Your friendship means a lot to me. And you look very beautiful."
Retta's voice is lovely! Who knew?
Ben: "In my time working for the state government, my job sent me to 46 cities in eleven years. I lived in villages with eight people, rural farming communities, college towns, I was sent to every corner of Indiana. And then I came here, and I realized that this whole time, I was just wandering around everywhere just looking for you."
Leslie: "The things that you have done for me; to help me, support me, surprise me, to make me happy -- go above and beyond what any person deserves. You're all I need. I love you and I like you."
Andy: "Close only counts in horse grenades."
When April said, "I was just telling Andy that I'm proud of him," I was SURE she was going to say "pregnant." I actually audible gasped at first. (Also, I loved the Orin reference right after.)
The wedding reception! "500 Candles in the Wind!" JJ's Diner did cater after all! Leslie and Ben (and Us!) and Leslie's reaction! Ron dancing!
Leslie: "I love my husband, I love my job, and I love my friends.... even though they really can't handle their booze."
Ron: "People who buy things are suckers."
The entire cold open of "Correspondents' Lunch."
Ron: "You can't hack into a typewriter, that's all I have to say."
Leslie: "Can it, Unabomber."
And for your viewing pleasure, re-watch the real wedding here:
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