One of the tricky things for me about writing Parks and Recreation SnapCaps is that I am running out of ways to praise the show. I mean, how much more effusive can I possibly get? I guess I need to dig down and find some more feelings words, though, because “Smallest Park” was the best episode so far in this impossibly good season. In fact, it was one of the best Parks episodes ever.
The A story features Leslie and Ben doing their Dream Team routine for what Ben assures her is the final time as they work to build the smallest park in Indiana. (“You don’t need to decrease your time with me. In fact, you need to increase your time with me; you need to spend more time with me. That make sense? I think it does.”) The B story sees Ron and April tugging Andy across a community college campus helping him choose how to further his education. (“Ooh, this one’s a crash course!” “It isn’t what you think.”) And even the C story is full of giggles and hugs as Tom and Jerry — Ha ha ha! — work together to choose a new font for the Parks and Rec logo (“Jerry, you’re my number three.” “There’s only two of us.”).
Last week I banged on for an hour about how Amy Poehler is the new Mary Tyler Moore, and it’s still true — but it was Ron and Andy and April who turned out to be the best feminists this week. (It’s weird to think Rashida Jones was once a more integral part of this cast than Chris Pratt, right?) Ron wants Andy to take a class that will challenge him because Andy is one of the few people he doesn’t actively root against. April wants Andy to take a class he can ace without effort because she’s April. First he goes “undercover” as a “rock star” in a beginner’s guitar class. Then he sustains one of the “most significant bummers” of his life when he finds out they don’t actually play with lasers in a class about the theory of lasers.
So the three of them end up in Women’s Studies where they are enthralled over a lecture about heteronormative reality and Joan of Arc. April wants to be burned at the stake and Ron wants to marry the teacher — if she wans’t so violently opposed to the social construct of patriarchal marriage.
FEELINGS, FEELINGS, FEELINGS
There were feelings flying all over the place this week. You’d think the biggest swoon would come when Leslie and Ben decide to try to make their relationship work for real. The way she lays her soul bare in front of him in that tiny park and he rushes in to kiss her. But for me, the sweetest moment is when Ron offeres to pay for Andy’s college classes — The Ron Swanson Scholarship — and Andy wrapps him up in a bear hug. Ron goes, “Stop this!” And Andy nuzzles into his neck, all, “No.” And Ron Rons about, “Stop it or you lose the money!”
April is a catalyst for absolute insanity in people’s lives, even — no, especially — the people she loves the most. She was amazing this week following Andy from class to class, goading him into ridiculous hijinks. Her line about wanting to be burned at the stake was amazing, as was her return to peddling Mouse Rat merchandise, but I think I loved her most when she covered her face out of sheer embarrassment when Andy started asking to play with lasers. I mean, you know it’s bad when even April Ludgate can bear up under the weight of the awkwardness.
POEHER PUPPET PALS
Oh, and of course, Leslie was on top of her game this week. I love how this show doesn’t manufacture annoying personality traits for the sole comedic purpose of having other characters call them out on it. Ann calls Leslie a steam roller because Leslie has repeatedly proven that she’s a steam roller. From begging Ann to “shut [her] beautiful pie hole” to explaining she made Ann watch all eight Harry Potter because Ann loves Harry Potter, she was in amazing form this week. But then, in a blink of an eye, she flips to the switch to heart-achingly vulnerable with Ben in that park. Her face. Her face!
“This is how I feel? How do you feel?”
Um. I feel like I will love you with all of my heart for all of time, Leslie Knope.
What did you think of “Littlest Park”?