Let’s talk about the 100th episode of Parks & Rec! It aired this Thursday, January 9th 2014.
I know Leslie Knope is a fictional character, but I’m still heartbroken that she was voted out of office as a city Councillor. I’m pretty sure she’s taking it harder than me though. One of the things I love about P&R is the way it keeps little threads of storylines running throughout each season. One of those storylines is Councillor Dexhart’s various sex scandals. In this week’s episode, he has a press conference to confirm the breaking scandals are completely and unequivocally true. This news pops the light bulb over Leslie’s head and she has the idea to run for his seat on the City Council.
That would mean Leslie and Ben would live in his district – a “dumping ground for old shipping containers”, and a “raccoon shanty town” – 51 percent of the year. Ben reminds Leslie that Dexhart fights very dirty, and we immediately know something is off-kilter when Leslie is raring to start a campaign just as dirty. His poll numbers have risen since the scandal and even Shauna Malwae-Tweep is infatuated with the man because she feels like she can “fix him”.
Because Ben and Leslie are perfect – Ben does what’s right for Leslie. He first gathers all her co-workers to give their opinions on starting a second campaign. Everyone (except Larry/Jerry) agree that it’s not a good idea. She isn’t dissuaded, but neither is Ben, so he hires Jennifer Barkley (played again by the amazing Kathryn Hahn) to consult with Leslie for an hour. Not a small feat as she charges $1200 for that hour.
Jennifer and Ben are finally able to talk Leslie out of taking on Dexhart for his seat, and then Ben takes her to Paris while they both have some down time. There was a beautiful scene at the end of the show where they sightsee and add a lock to the fence that runs along-side the Love-Lock bridge over the Seine.
Two little things happened during this main storyline I’d like to give a nod to. First of all, Kristen Bell returned as Ingrid De Forest, starting her new job taking up where Leslie leaves off. Near the end of the episode, Perd Hapley (played by Jay Jackson), who is ever ‘hapless’, does a live report without a microphone.
Again, Parks & Rec packs in a ton of story in a very short span of time. There were three side stories – one featuring Chris and Ann, one that tied up the ‘Rent-A-Swag’ buyout, and one concerning Andy’s return from London.
The shortest one was Andy returning from London, and April becoming more and more frustrated with his inability to recover from jet-lag. She was unable to wake him up in the cold open, he peed in a corner during a meeting in the P&R office, and several other times he was woken just in time to witness only part of a conversation – which confused him more than normal.
Next up was Tom’s ‘Rent-A-Swag’ saga. He finalized the buyout with Dr. Sapperstien’s (Henry Winkler) lawyer (another bit of brilliant casting by using deadpan actor Marc Evan Jackson). Then, in an almost smart move, he decided to use the windfall to fund someone else’s idea. Probably a move to ensure he wouldn’t get hurt again – even though it completely backfired. In the end, he takes a cue from April and creates his own position of “Business Liaison” and Ron is firmly behind that idea.
Another heartbreaker this season is knowing that the countdown to Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe’s last episode comes closer each week. So every episode where we get a story for them is a blessing. Dovetailing with Tom’s thread, Dr. Sapperstien gives the couple an envelope with their baby’s sex contained within. Chris and Ann work themselves up only to find out that his handwriting is terrible. They make him go into the office on a Saturday morning to confirm the baby will be a boy. There are some cute scenes where the couple bonds and Ann definitely has some hormonal incidents.
I’m not sure this episode was 100th episode greatness, but it was definitely as amazing as most other Parks and Recreation episodes. Maybe my standard is just very high.