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July 25, 2014

'Parks and Recreation' Season 3, Episode 6 Recap

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 25th 2011 12:30AM
'Parks and Recreation' - 'Indianapolis'['Parks and Recreation' - 'Indianapolis']

The only part of 'Parks and Rec' season 3 that I haven't been a fan of is the way the writers have been treating Ann Perkins. Ever since she fell under the spell of Chris Traeger, she's looked like a complete wuss, someone who acts more like a member of Chris' wellness cult than someone who genuinely liked the obsessive Chris for who he is.

Certainly, it didn't hurt that Chris looks like Rob Lowe, making them the prettiest couple on TV. But there was something about how that relationship was written that took Rashida Jones away from what she does best, which is play the strong, down-to-earth woman you want to take to a hockey game for a date.

Hopefully, that non-working piece was remedied tonight. But it took a lot of painful moments on Ann's part to get there. It makes me wonder, though; what's next for Chris Traeger?

The job Chris and Ben came in to Pawnee to do is almost done; Chris already has another assignment in some town where the cows outnumber the people, and Ben is supposedly hanging around until the end of the Harvest Festival.

There's an inkling that Ben might stay on because the writers have taken pains to show him developing a relationship with the members of the Parks and Rec team. Donna even knew that Miller Lite was his drink. But what about Chris? The only thing really tying him to Pawnee was Ann, and now that's over, and it was so ill-conceived to begin with that I hope it's never revisited.

There is a lot of potential in Lowe as Chris, though right now the character is still a little two-dimensional. We all know there's an obssessive-compulsive guy inside him; you can tell by how he emphasizes words, how neat his apartment is, and how many handfulls of supplements he takes every day. Ease up on his tics a bit -- we know everything is "lit-tra-ly" the best thing he's ever eaten/seen/watched -- and explore his OCD and you've really got a character there.

I do think it was funny that the combination of Ann never being dumped before and Chris' relentless positivity led to her thinking that not only had they not broken up, but that Chris was cheating on her. And I know that Leslie is quick to defend her best friend -- "She's my best friend, and anyone who hurts her I would murder probably," she says to Chris -- but you'd think that she knew Chris well enough that she'd need to see more evidence than a woman's razor, a pink shower cap and some concealer in order to think he's cheating. At the very least, Ann should have known that Chris is a triathlete who's vain and likes to have smooth legs for his races.

The breakup that didn't take did lead to one of Amy Poehler's patented bits where she just improvises a bunch of statements and the best ones are edited together. But it's totally within the realm of possibility that Leslie had so many lousy breakups; there's just something about her that leads people to do things like dump her while taking a shower with her or say that they're not "feelin' it" as she's lying on the ground with a broken kneecap. My favorite was the guy who got down on one knee and begged her not to call him again.

The best part of the trip to Indianapolis was Ron's love affair with the steak at Mulligan's, which he called "the most special place on earth." It's so special that after he eats there, "there are flecks of meat in my mustache, and I refuse to clean it because every now and then a piece will fall into my mouth." Now, that must be a hell of a steak. Loved how in the pictures of his meals there, stretching back over more than a decade, he looks exactly the same as he does now.



From his angered hunger-induced reactions to Leslie's stalling, to his wails of anguish at seeing the boarded-up restaurant -- "The steaks that were in there when they closed ... do you think they were eaten?" -- to his aggreived reaction to Chris' portobella caps, it was Ron Swanson at his best. But this line in the diner, as he realized he won't be getting a good steak that day, was classic:

"Give me all the bacon and eggs you have ... wait, wait ... I worry what you just heard was 'give me a lot of bacon and eggs.' What I said was, give me all ... the bacon and eggs ... you have. So you understand?"

More fun stuff:

-- The Snakehole plot was good in places, mainly in Tom's description of the ether-based perfume Blackout: It was "named one of Maxim's Top 100 Ways to Trick a Girl Into Having Sex."

-- Fun to see Andy and April together on their "get free stuff at the club" caper. And it was fun to see her give the camera a little smile as she said they were dating, then quickly reverted to her patented "whatever. I don't like labels" shtick; it was a nice job of subtlety on the part of Aubrey Plaza.

-- Something tells me that the folks in Pawnee are not going to be like Facebook friends to Ben anymore. He even helped make Tom feel better after the fragrance "king" mocked Tommy Fresh. "I can smell your dreams from here," he said as Tom soaked himself in what smelled like "teriyaki hairpiece."

'Parks and Recreation' airs Thursdays at 9:30PM ET on NBC.

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