Parks and Recreation
Original Air Date: May 5, 2011
Valentina D. – TwoCents Reviewer
This week’s Parks and Recreation is an all-out battle of public servants, as Pawnee’s longstanding rivalry with a neighbouring town takes an ugly turn. Leslie is torn between planning the perfect birthday party for a certain mustachioed boss and brawling with a past connection that has moved onto greener pastures.
All I can say is, what a week it has been for city hall.
Leslie finds out that Ron Swanson has been hiding a deep, dark secret. Well, not so much dark as it is deep. Leslie has discovered it’s Ron’s birthday at the end of the week and she’s got the redacted government papers censored in heavy black marker to prove it. Ron has managed to keep his birth date under wraps all these years as he hates loud noises, celebrating and believes birthdays are just a scam to sell greeting cards. Too bad for him because a birthday is exactly the thing that Leslie would find thrilling and she makes it her mission to throw Ron a birthday blowout. Little does she know that she’s about to embark on a whole other mission.
Eagleton, Pawnee’s richer and prettier neighbour, has built a fence around a shared small park in order to keep out Pawnee kids. The woman leading the cause is no stranger to Leslie. Lindsay Carlisle Shea was once her best friend in the parks department until she ditched Pawnee for Eagleton or as Leslie puts it, “lost her soul.” I’m impressed how the writers manage to expand the world around this little town in Indiana week after week, even going as far as to create some “Springfield and Shelbyville” parallels in this episode. Leslie now finds herself two causes going at once: Operation No More Fence and Operation Ron’s Birthday: Shock and Awe. Speaking of Ron’s party, I loved the small callback to his “Duke Silver” alter ego when April called party supply stores in search of inflatable saxophones and fedoras.
Lindsay isn’t going to let Leslie take down the fence without a battle and steps foot in Pawnee City Hall for the first time in five years. She’s brought her condescending attitude with her, even being rude to Ann during their first meeting where Leslie adorably makes it a point that Ann is now her very best friend. Lindsay doesn’t budge, though, and says she wants to make the park private to protect Eagleton kids. She throws some harsh words Leslie’s way, calling Pawnee the “dirty little nightmare from which you’ll never wake up.” We know Leslie doesn’t take kindly to anyone insulting the town she loves so much so the gloves are definitely coming off.
The parks department decides to attend Eagleton’s public forum about the fence and it looks like it’s being held in a banquet hall, complete with a crepe station and professional chefs. Eagleton is populated by proud yuppies and Leslie reveals another little piece of Pawnee history: Eagleton was actually founded by former Pawneeians, when the wealthy citizens decided to leave. When Leslie takes the podium, her speech falls upon deaf ears when the Eagleton folk say the fence dividing the park might inspire Pawnee to clean up their act. On the drive home (did I mention they all got an iPod touch as part of their Eagleton gift bag?), Leslie reveals the real reason why this is affecting her so hard: five years ago, Eagleton offered her the position in their city hall, which prompted her and Lindsay to make a pact to stay in Pawnee together. When Leslie passed on the job, Eagleton turned around and offered it to Lindsay, who accepted and disappeared.
Elsewhere, Ron is losing his mind over the mere thought of a birthday party. He tries to pry information from Ann, who is less assuring as she describes the insane blowout Leslie organized for her the year before, complete with a bouncy castle for adults. Ron is completely consumed by the idea of a party and asks Chris to send Leslie on an assignment for the rest of the week, which he answers by giving Ron a big birthday kiss.
The rest of the parks team, led by Leslie, is about to throw bags of garbage over the fence into Eagleton territory when Ben convinces Leslie to change her mind. Hot on her trail is Lindsay, who knows how to push Leslie’s buttons and does the ultimate no-no in Leslie’s books: she feeds her dog a waffle (Leslie’s favourite food) as a laxative. This is the last straw for Leslie, who lunges and soon enough, Tom is chanting for a girl fight in the middle of the garbage. The authorities arrive just in time and after the two women refuse to apologize, they’re tossed in jail.
Ron wakes up at his desk having slept at the office the night before and the thought of his birthday continues to eat him alive. He tries to get details from Andy, who says Leslie swore him to secrecy, especially since he’s part of the kidnap squad. The look of terror on Ron’s face says it all.
Leslie’s stint in Eagleton’s “jail” for the night is basically a free spa day with scones and tea. Ann comes to pick her up and Leslie admits that the real reason she’s so upset is that Lindsay acts as if their friendship never even happened. Also, she makes a pretty good point about assault being legal if the other person is being a jerk. Leslie pulls herself up by her bootstraps as always and makes the best of the situation, using the Pawnee side of the park as the site for a Whiffle ball league for local children. Lindsay stops by and is sufficiently impressed with Leslie, which might be the first step to repair their old friendship.
Back at city hall, Ron is prepared to meet his doom and reluctantly goes with Leslie to the party. In what is probably one of the most thoughtful things Leslie has ever done for a friend, the “party” is actually a party for one. Despite her love for big events, Leslie knows Ron extremely well and has prepared a single table setting. A big, juicy steak and a stiff drink await him and she’s even laid out his favourite movies for him to enjoy. She confesses she had the others mess with him all week on purpose. Ron sits down to enjoy his special day alone and in total bliss.
Parks and Rec always has great guest stars that never disappoint. What did you all think of Parker Posey as Leslie’s nemesis? Share your TwoCents below! Don’t forget that next week we get a double dose of Parks and Recreation, with two new back-to-back episodes!
Next Week: P & R double bill! The Fight and Road Trip