While “Fluoride” included subplots featuring relationships between characters who never quite clicked, “The Cones of Dunshire” brings back some comforting and familiar pairings. Watching Donna and Tom team up to show off and sell Ron’s cabin as Ron and April simultaneously sit outside, deadpan, and mess with circa-2008 hipsters ejaculating over Dave Eggers, is a treat. I can never fault the pair that invented the infinitely meme-able Treat Yo Self Day. And it’s also easy to get nostalgic for the old “Ron as April’s pseudo dad” dynamic.
Ben is also at his best with his cadre of accounting geeks, after finally taking the accounting job he’s been turning down for years. The office scenes are adorably nerdy, like when his coworkers throw him a surprise pizza party and — oh wait! — it’s actually a calzone party and he’s unnecessarily giddy. When Ben nerds out about Twin Peaks or his game, The Cones of Dunshire, it shows a geeky passion that rivals Leslie’s, and makes their relationship ever-endearing
Of course, Leslie is the only one out of her element. In the process of trying to curry Councilman Jamm’s favor in order to lock in funding for the Pawnee Commons, she goes over to his house with Chris acting as the referee. And stuff gets weird.
Beyond his normal assholery, we get a peek into Jamm’s home life, which includes an obsession with “Asian culture” (i.e., wearing a silk kimono to answer the door, covering his walls in pictures of a Photoshopped Michelle Wie in a bikini, and calling edamame “Tokyo beans”) that explains a lot about Councilman Jamm as a person. It’s not entirely clear why he lets Leslie and Chris hang out with him for the weekend, because he seems to genuinely enjoy singing karaoke with Leslie, and not just as a means to torture her.
As the last episode of 2013, “The Cones of Dunshire” isn’t an unsatisfying ending. It’s just as well that the writers didn’t milk the “will Leslie and Ben be unemployed forever?” card for longer. Ben conveniently loses his job while Chris is conveniently leaving, so Ben conveniently replaces Chris! Parks doesn’t need to leave us with a big cliffhanger when we’re riding on the coattails of a sweet, wrapped-up ending. It’s a bit too clean, but it makes sense. Leslie and Ben are destined to find their way back to the Pawnee local government. I don’t know if they, or the show, could function any other way.