'Parks and Recreation' Season 3, Episode 12 Recap
by Joel Keller, posted May 6th 2011 1:00AM
Sometimes the simplest episodes of a sitcom are the better ones. Even though 'Eagleton' wasn't as jam-packed with laughs as some 'Parks' episodes have been, it was one of my favorites of the season, mainly because a lot of the humor came from what we've learned about Leslie Knope -- and to a lesser extent, Ron Swanson -- to this point.
We know that Leslie loves Pawnee like no one else, but most of all, she's a loyal and attentive friend (despite what Slate.com may think). So to find out that she had a friend that betrayed her makes things very interesting; we want to see how Leslie reacts to someone who's done her wrong.
It turns out that she doesn't react very well. From spiteful old photos to tossing garbage to stuffing used coffee filters down someone's pants during a fight, we found out that you don't want to cross Leslie Knope. Ever.
Who crossed her? Lindsay Carlisle-Shea, played by Parker Posey. They used to be best friends and they worked together in the Pawnee parks department. Leslie and Lindsay: wow, that sounds like the name of a two-woman comedy show, doesn't it? Anyway, after Leslie turned down a job running the parks department in snooty neighbor Eagleton, Lindsay took the job.
There is nothing extraordinary about Lindsay as a character; Posey is playing a snooty, status-obsessed woman, a role that she has played a number of times and has down pat. In fact, it's hard to believe that she and the earnest Leslie were ever friends. That's when Leslie breaks out the picture of the Pawnee version of Lindsay: a big nose, 35 more pounds and a bulky sweatshirt that says "Jazz" on it. Sure, it's exaggerated; not even Leslie dresses that poorly. But it was good to show where Lindsay came from, when she was as earnest as Leslie.
The gags that showed how much different Eagleton is than Pawnee were fun, even though they were a little on the silly side. Pawnee may have crazy citizens, but in many respects, it's portrayed as a normal, struggling town. Eagleton, on the other hand, seems to be able to afford catered public meetings, complete with crepe stations, Champagne and iPod Touch-laden gift bags. The citizens are well-dressed, polite, use a normal speaking volume, and applaud each other when they give their full names. Their police station's holding cell has inspirational slogans on the wall, serves scones, provides fuzzy blankets and plays smooth jazz over the speakers.
It was fun to see the differences, but the comparison didn't make Pawnee look like a hell hole, it just made Eagleton look like a town that doesn't exist in the real world. Even super-wealthy towns don't do some of the stuff that Eagleton did.
The fight between Leslie and Lindsay was funny because they both launched right into it. Not sure if those were stunt doubles -- I'm guessing they were -- but they made it look like Leslie had developed Hulk-like super strength and leaping ability when she was pissed. And it was also fun to see that Leslie's current best friend, Ann, is as loyal as Lindsay was: "Say the word and I'll beat her senseless with a baseball bat." Wonder why Ann didn't do that to Andy, or Mark, or even Chris?
Leslie was a pretty busy woman in this episode, not only was she in her battle with Lindsay, eventually mending fences while utilizing the one that Lindsay built in the Eagleton side of the park the towns shared, but she also had time to screw with Ron, too.
Even though I knew what was going on, watching Ron fall apart in anticipation of what Leslie might do to celebrate his birthday -- he thinks "birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards." -- was still fun. Leslie knew that he hated birthdays, which is why she asked everyone to make a fuss: Chris kissed him on the mouth, Andy said that he was on kidnap patrol, April tried to order dozens of blow-up saxophones from a novelty shop (when are we going to see Duke Silver resurface, by the way?).
It goes without saying that Ron Swanson is one of the more inspired sitcom characters of the last decade. Due to The Power of the Mustache, he as been able to keep most personal details about him from his co-workers, even though he works in public service. No one but Baskin-Robbins knows his birthday, and he's managed to get most of his personnel records redacted. It's an amazing feat, really.
But he is a loyal friend to everyone there, even if he does it begrudgingly. He gave Leslie great advice when Eagleton offered her the job. "There will be lots of job offers, but you only have one hometown." It's gems like that that makes Leslie want to give him the birthday Ron deserves: a huge steak from Mulligan's, whiskey, a plate of bacon, war movies, and solitude. That's our Leslie; a loyal friend. Let's hope she patches things up with Lindsay so they can go on to do that two-woman show.
More fun stuff:
-- How does Tom run out of that shampoo every eight days? He doesn't have that much hair on his head.
-- It was fun to watch Tom yell his desire to jump ship to Eagleton at Lindsay like he was ticked off at her. She just dumped his resume on the pile of garbage like she had just used it to pick up her dog's post-JJ's waffle production.
'Parks and Recreation' airs Thrusdays at 9:30PM on NBC.
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Watch the full episode here: