TV RECAP: 'Parks & Recreation: The Fight & Road Trip'

TV RECAP: ‘Parks & Recreation: The Fight & Road Trip’

I’m glad there were two episodes—disregarding the fact that it meant double the recaps—because it was nice to see the Leslie/Ben (is there a name for this yet? If not, I’m submitting “LesBien” for mass consideration) sexual tension get some mutual recognition—and some face-munching.

But that comes later. The first episode, “The Fight,” honors the timeless sitcom staple of everyone getting really, really drunk. The setup is that Pawnee’s head of public relations for the health department has, as Chris says, “Gone bananas,” freeing his position up for Leslie to swoop in and recommend Ann Perkins for the job, a job Ann’s none too willing to take since it entails memorizing every Pawnee health reform since the 1950s (which actually might make interesting, if not terrifying reading)…in one night.

Meanwhile, Tom’s developed a new drink to promote at the Snake Hole: Snake Juice, a 140-proof, Kahlua-inspired liquor (basically a lot of alcohol mixed with sugar and coffee), which likely tastes as good as it sounds, but oh how it does the job. Tom invites the gang out to partake (but more to help peddle the hooch), and oh how they do, particularly Ann Perkins, who ditches the massive amount of homework Leslie prepares and is now dating The Douche, Pawnee’s own radio-shock-idiot, last seen in “Media Blitz.”

Leslie gets incensed at Ann’s promiscuity and Ann retaliates by chiding Leslie for hiding her feelings toward Ben, leading to a booze-fueled confrontation between the two that results in a falling out/massive hangover.

And of course there’s April and Andy’s stab at role-playing, which at the very least gives us the triumphant return of Andy’s alter-ego, Bert Mackland, the FBI framed for the questionable crime of stealing the President’s rubies and yet inexplicably still allowed to work for the Bureau as a lone agent. Needless to say he meets his match in April’s Mrs.-White-inspired Janet Snakehorn.

But the highlight is seeing the Pawnee Parks department at their slurringest: April lapses into speaking Venezuelan, Ann’s face melts off, Andy (and Chris Pratt does some of his best work in the series here) pukes up the remnants of the previous night mid shoe-polish, and Ron…well, see above. I wish we could have seen Jerry sloshed, but that omission is more than made up for with the sight gag of him tied to the roof of Donna’s car.

“Road Trip” brings LesBien to the forefront as the two finally address their mutual interest, agree to suppress it, then get tasked by Chris to hit the road to Indianapolis so they can toss Pawnee’s name in for consideration of a baseball team or some nonsense (really, does it matter?). Of course, as Leslie is wont to remind us, she and Ben can’t slam desks in the backroom because inter-office relationships/bumping of uglies is forbidden among close co-workers (though I’m sure there’s many more corrupter dealings going on at Pawnee Town Hall).

But as hard as Leslie tries to “unseduce” Ben (discussing a New Yorker article on ladders, making a CD mix…uh…tape that includes such choice tracks as Mandarin 101 and highlights of the banjo) the cruel hand of God goes out of its way to get them together only to crash the make-out party in the form of Chris, who shows up to celebrate their successful bid and inadvertently block their respective…you knows.

And while the two are away, Tom takes the opportunity to screw off and submit April, Andy, Donna, and Jerry to the torture that is his “new” idea for a game show, a heavily plagiarized version of The Newlywed Game called Know Your Boo. Surprisingly, Jerry’s pretty adept at guessing Donna’s responses, not so surprisingly, Andy’s clueless regarding April’s interests (but can you blame him when her favorite band is Neutral Milk Hotel?). The two have their first post-marriage fight, which culminates in Andy giving up music and selling his guitar to the vile Sewage Jim.

Meanwhile, Ron gets a chance to spread the Libertarian seed (and for all the things about Libertarianism that Parks & Rec fudges on, Ron is a better promoter for the movement than Atlas Shrugged—take note, people) on the fertile ground of a small child coerced by the propagandist school system into writing an essay on why government matters (and when he asks her to autograph her original essay, which simply reads, “It doesn’t,” it brings a tear to the eye).

Both episodes are top notch, and though I think an aggressive display of wanton carnality from LesBien (I’m trying to push the Hell out of this) is more in line with the show’s nihilistic take on relationships, it can easily be overlooked this week because the cast is working their best material, and everyone gets a fill of great moments—even Jean-Raphio. Like I said, Pratt is the standout this week, but I’m even happier to see Chris and Ann hold their own.

Next Week: Leslie’s mother returns!