Parks and Recreation: Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington/Pie-Mary, Review

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Parks and Recreation just continues to be absolutely heartwarming and charming in every possible aspect so far this season. Saying goodbye to it in two, yes, two shorts weeks is going to be like watching-Mufasa-die-in the-Lion King levels of sadness. A pure tragedy.

Honestly, the relationships on Parks and Recreation are just so loving and selfless that watching the show is like being embraced in a giant hug. For the last four weeks the show has been giving each character a sweet final arc, and tonight was April Ludgate’s turn, and she’s a self-proclaimed evil witch who hates everything. Sweet really isn’t her usual scene, but we all know she’s a big softie at heart, and she’s saved her most awww-inducing moments for tonight.

Don’t let me make it sound like tonight’s two-hander (why NBC is just burning these off is beyond me) is all “warm and fuzzies” though, there’s actually a lot of strife going on. First off, April really struggles to tell Leslie that she’s searching for a new career, especially when she’s basically dragged to Washington D.C. with Leslie to attend to government business. Parks’ D.C. episodes are always fun because they get politicians to stop clowning around with legislation and actually do some in front of the camera. The show gets silly turns from people like John McCain, Barbara Boxer, and Madeline Albright, who gets in the best cameo. Once April cracks and tells Leslie she quits, it’s Albright who delivers Leslie a talk about how sometimes Leslie’s ambitious visions can blind her to people’s feelings.

I like how the season has repeatedly shown both how great and how flawed Leslie is, the balance just makes her endearingly human. Watching her stubbornness with Ron and her sometimes over-aggressiveness to win against Gryzzl proves that Parks and Rec is still interested in showing these complexities, not just a sunny perfect goodbye. Though things do get pretty damn adorable when April explains it’s these annoying Tracy Flick qualities that made April have the ambition to pursue something better in the first place.

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The night’s second episode featured trouble on the campaign front when Leslie angers just about everyone by refusing to participate in a sexist, antiquated Indiana tradition called the Piemary, where candidates’ wives comepete against each other in a pie cooking competition. When she decides to enter the competition, she gets threats from feminist and equality groups.

When Ben realizes that pie cooking is basically the same as making calzones, WHICH HE’S GREAT AT, he decides to subvert expectations and enter the competition himself. That’s when pathetically ignorant and chauvinistic meninists prove that they don’t just unfortunately exist on the internet, but that they’re also in Pawnee and protest Ben’s involvement. Eventually, Ben and Leslie give a joint speech about gender equality in relationships that would probably be the greatest, most blunt and progressive political speech ever if it were real.

Meanwhile, April squeezes another sentimental moment out of the night when she seeks Ron’s help to find the spare key to his house that he gave her eight years ago. Ron needs the key because April tells him that she’ll be moving to D.C. and to hide his hurt feelings, he stoically only asks for his key back. The two, along with Andy, have to track 8 year old clues left by young April when she was drugged up on pain meds for her wisdom teeth. Ron is a world class puzzle solver, and even he can’t decipher the clues, but then April remembers where the key is hidden, underneath her favorite tree, which she tells Ron reminds her of him; strong, quiet, and always there when you need it. It’s a sappy (pun intended) moment between Parks’ two least emotional people. It’s really quite beautiful.

Please don’t leave.

The Best of the Rest

  • Donna and Gary even have an emotional moment. When Donna spends the day nostalgically watching Gary drop his belongs down a grate, because duh, it’s Gary, she realizes what a sweet and kind guy Gary is, then returns his belongings and lets him know that she values his friendship.
  • Oddly, no Tom Haverford in this hour. If you need some Aziz in your life, he was hilarious voicing a character on Bob’s Burgers this week.
  • Ben, Ron, and Andy try to help April get a job consulting for Ben Wyatt’s number one fan Bernie’s accounting firm. Bernie isn’t the only Pawnee favorite back, we also get appearances from Harris and Brett, the animal control guys that now live in the basement of town hall, the Langdons, and Brandy Maxx.
  • I love Kathryn Hahn as Jen. The way she’s so against kids and suburban life kind of makes her an opposite of Leslie like Ron. She wears a poncho to Leslie’s home because “everything is sticky.”
  • Ron has a brother, Don Swanson, and who knows how many more.
  • The action close-up on Ben saying, “Get me Gary Gergich,” when he needed someone to do grunt work was hysterical.
  • Craig and Donna totally seem to vibe but Donna rejects his attempt to hang out.
  • Andy: “You had a crush on me!? That’s embarrassing!” April: “We’re married.”
  • Leslie’s reaction to Ben being named the Woman of the Year was priceless.

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4.5 out of 5