But that’s not the show Parks started out as, back when it was emerging from the shadow of The Office and positioning Leslie as more of a female Michael Scott than the unique comic creation she would gradually evolve into. Yet even after that metamorphosis, we must remember that Leslie’s friendships and work relationships are high maintenance ones; the show frequently chuckles at the way she goes overboard, but it’s actually easy to imagine her grinding on the nerves of her friends and colleagues, and that Donna might just head to Twitter to blow off some steam. After Leslie’s heart-to-heart with Chris (“Do you think I’m annoying?” “I think a lot of things. I like thinking. And racquetball!”) and a careful parsing of the differences between the hashtags #BitchBoss and #BossBitch, the temporary rift in Leslie and Donna’s relationship is repaired with comic savvy and a welcome bit of heart.
This week’s B-plot finds Ben talking Ron into adapting his one-sentence will, written at age eight (“all of my belongings shall transfer to the man or animal who has killed me”) into family planning for his wife and children. But it’s a plot of convenience; at this point, the character of Ron Swanson is so firmly established and so rich with comic possibilities that you can just point him in any direction and let him go. And so we get such golden Swanson-isms as “Literally everything is a weapon, son”; “The three most useless jobs in the world are, in order, lawyer, congressman, and doctor”; “I’m not telling you how much money I have, where it’s hidden, or which precious medals or gemstones it’s taken the form of”; “I will leave my children $50 a piece for the cab home from a funeral and a steak dinner, end of discussion”; and, best of all, Ron telling his “first joke ever. Don’t care for it.”
With two plots as rich as these in motion, Tom’s flirtation with “Nadia Whatever-her-last-name is” was bound to suffer, merely in terms of limited screen time—even though it does include more fun swipes at the generally poor health of the Pawnee population (“Do you know you have more cases of the West Nile virus than the actual Western Nile?”) and Aubrey Plaza’s gleeful response to Tom’s out-of-left-field English accent: “So you’ve gone insane, that’s fun!”
And speaking of limited screen time—bummer, no Ann Perkins in this episode. But I guess that’s something we’re going to have to start getting used to.