“Parks and Recreation” 5×03: How a Bill Becomes a Law

October 5, 2012

We’re back! Lots is happening, and everyone is happier than last week. I’m delighted.

This episode finally gives Leslie a chance to revel in her city councilwoman-hood. To start off, she has a brand new office, which includes her own bathroom. BIG DOINS. That is, until she discovers that a fellow councilman, Councilman Jamm, is using the bathroom too. He tries to make her a deal (“How bout I drop my liquids in here, and take my solids down the hall?”), but she’s not having it. She’s about to get a bill passed— the “Fun in the Sun” bill, which would keep the local pool open later—and she’s very focused on her goal.

In DC, the plot is a little bit less interesting, but does give Ben and April a chance to hang out one-on-one and clear up some of the negativity from last week. It’s Friday afternoon, and April suggests that the two of them take an impromptu road trip to Pawnee for the weekend. Ben agrees! But once in the car, they’re stuck in the parking garage due to a presidential motorcade. Oh, and Ben’s almost out of gas…

Meanwhile, as we saw last week, Chris has started intensive psychotherapy and is calling his therapist for EVERY problem he has. This has given him the idea for a 3-1-1 number—one number that all Pawneeans can call with any problem, and then be routed to the correct department. Of course, the Parks team will be fielding the calls, which doesn’t make a ton of sense but hey, that’s ok with me.

In celebration of her impending bill victory, Leslie has decided to finally get a perm. (Anne seems to be away this week, which is strangely unexplained — but it does allow Leslie to go all out on the perm, an idea that Anne disapproves of.) Her hair is half in rollers when Tom arrives with bad news: Councilman Jamm (who is also Tom’s dentist) will vote against the bill. What a shithead. Leslie declares that “the perm must wait.” Hair half curly, she heads out to convince the oldest member of the council to get on her side. But he’s really involved with some ceasar salad and was elected in 1948 with the goal of de-integrating baseball, so. It’s not super promising.

Back in DC, the plot is still pretty predictable, so I’ll just cut to the chase. After April insists on listening to Ben’s mix cd (first track: Shoop, by Salt N Pepa) and Ben insists on reading his “Star Trek” fan fiction aloud, the line of cars finally starts to move. But then — wait, they’re out of gas! Terrible. Ben offers to fly them to Pawnee next weekend instead, and as the episode ends they seem like maybe friends.

In the Parks department, the 3-1-1 line is causing Jerry to deal with 9-1-1 calls (yikes), and Ron to field calls from a woman with a faulty pothole. He grabs Andy and they head out to get the job done. What they find is two little girls dressed as princesses; Andy joins them eagerly. Ron gets to work. When the girls’ mom, Diane, comes out to talk to him, it’s immediately evident that she is a LOVE INTEREST (she’s wearing a low-cut blue shirt, she mentions being a single mom, I don’t know. It was just like, clear). Ron ends up storming off after Andy persuades him to put on princess makeup with the girls, but not before some significant sparks have flown.

In the government plot, things don’t look good. Tom has talked to Jamm and learned that what he wants in exchange for his vote is one thing: Leslie’s office/bathroom combo. Leslie is too moral for that, and she marches into the session with her head high (although also, still half-permed). But when her bill is up, she stalls and begrudgingly agrees to give Jamm her office and her bathroom (and to let him sell her invisalign) in exchange for his support. The bill passes! And when Jamm tries to ruin Leslie’s teachable moment by revealing their trade-off and exposing government as a fraud, she pushes him into the pool and then jumps in herself. Plus this kills the perm! Problems officially solved.

Finally, Andy encourages Ron to pursue Diane. In a nice role switch, it is Andy here who is telling Ron how to live — “Look at me, my life’s a mess, and I love it,” he says. “Look, I have gum in my hair.” It’s awesome. Ron’s not having it, though … but then Diane shows up and asks him out. This lady is total Ron Swanson material, and his smile at the end is essentially the greatest thing that’s ever happened.

This was a solid, solid episode, Ben and April’s fairly lame plot aside. I do hope they find a way to get those two back in Pawnee; I really miss seeing the couples together. I feel like I’M in a long distance relationship with April and Ben TOO, and that’s not fair because I never agreed to it so… anyway. I hope they come back. But I love seeing Leslie with purpose and joy again; I love seeing Ron encounter new opportunities; I love seeing Donna read Fifty Shades of Grey. Things are good.

Remember the magic on Nuclear Salad.

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