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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.
"Dopplegangers" was pretty much a dud episode for me on so many levels. And that's a bummer, because the whole Pawnee/Eagleton merger had so much potential, but like with The Office merger, almost everyone new is going to immediately be shuttled away jobless and without much just cause… the only major difference is that this time Rashida Jones isn't the sole person sticking around. The overreaction to Ann's pending move just seemed like a massive infantile regression on Leslie's part, one that we've seen before and that in general gave the entire episode a sour tone.
After last week's epic hour-long trip across the pond, "The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic" was bound to be a letdown. And while it wasn't our favorite half-hour of the show, it still had a lot of redeemable elements. We couldn't totally hate anything that involved Ron Swanson learning to Vine and Kristen Bell being mean to Leslie. Also, we're always down for anything that involves learning more about the fascinating, and fiscally troubled Eagletonians.
What a delightfully enjoyable hour of television. With part of the Pawnee gang heading to London (hence the premiere title "London, Part 1 and 2"), I was a little concerned that the stateside storylines would falter in the process. And while I'm pretty much over anything Mona-Lisa related, she was used in a remarkably sparingly way that actually didn't make me want to claw my eyes out. I was so overwhelmed by this show that I was momentarily paralyzed with all my emotions.
They got me, y'all. All season long, we were thrown little hints about possible Parks and Recreation pregnancies, and then in the season finale, the tension builds beautifully up until the moment I found out that I guessed the damn red herring. Aside from being incorrect and thus not getting the bragging rights, Ron Swanson being a father-to-be is more than I could have hoped for. I legitimately clapped at the end of the episode, and later had a brief nightmare about Tommy's Closet. It's probably a good thing that I'm getting a break from this show -- and, for the record, I'm pretty optimistic about a renewal.
I like mini golf as much as the next person with a soul and warm blood, but "Swing Vote" didn't work for me. The characters didn't do anything particularly interesting, the storylines were contrived, the conceit of the episode was in most cases, literally, "Well, I guess none of this really mattered," and it generally just felt like the writers went on vacation and left outlines to a bunch of substitutes about what each Pawnee friend is like and how plots usually go for a group. I wouldn't say that Parks and Recreation has run its course, nor do I think next week's Season 5 finale should also be the series finale, but episodes like this do make me wonder how much farther the show can take these characters without feeling like it's spinning its wheels each week. In any event, I hope that this is the last we see of Jenny Slate's Mona-Lisa, who is unfortunately the poster child of why "Swing Vote" wasn't very good.
The first scene of "Jerry's Retirement" has the triumphant return of Ben's Letters to Cleo shirt, so you knew it was going to be fun. I didn't love it as much as "Article Two," but the premise of Jerry retiring was hilarious, and it only further confirms my theory that in the season finale, we'll learn that Leslie, April and Ann are all pregnant... you know, assuming there's a bit of a time-jump or something. Until then, let's do this:
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