After three weeks of back-to-back Parks and Recreation episodes, we found ourselves “blessed” (in the words of Garry) with a single last night. The episode, titled “Donna and Joe,” fittingly centered on their wedding. More on the Meagles to come.
Though Tom and Lucy’s relationship feels like a perfunctory storyline intended to give Tom something to do this season, their chemistry works. Tom confides in Ron (over a baby-blue tux he’s wielding) that he feels he’s finally met the person he can spend the rest of his life with, adding that he would marry her today. During Donna’s rehearsal dinner, Ron gets ornery and meddles in the Tom-Lucy relationship while on the hunt for “small hamburgers,” telling Lucy that Tom is moving right along with his feelings for her. Ron later fixes his blunder by (whodathunkit?) getting the two to talk honestly about their emotions.
As Leslie and Ben prepare for a night at a hotel—their first time away sans kids in three years—they are bombarded by calls from politico Jen Barkley. Side note: If NBC is looking for spinoff ideas, might I propose a 30-minute comedy set in Jen’s office? Long live the magnificent Kathryn Hahn. But I digress. Back to the Knope-Wyatt household: Leslie attempts to calm the frazzled nanny, played to hyper-expressive perfection by Rachel Dratch, by professing her profound need for her, much to Ben’s dismay.
Just as Ben and Leslie are finally ready to leave, they open the front door to find that Jen Barkley, cell phone in hand and waiting impatiently. As she hurriedly enters the house, Jen is accosted by the triplets’ squeals. “What is that horrible sound?” “Children,” Ben says. “Ugh, your life is gross,” Jen says, not missing a beat. “My life is amazing!”
Jen enters to convince Ben to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against a vulnerable incumbent “moron [even by Washington standards?] who is a horrible bully that no one ever opposes.” This leaves Ben and Leslie with a lot to think about at Donna’s rehearsal dinner at Tom’s Bistro. There Leslie and Ben decide that he should go through the motions of a political candidate all night as if he wants to run, followed by doing the polar opposite the next day. As the night wears on, the childless Wyatt-Knopes get crazy and then wake up to find that they drunkenly called Jen to let her know that Ben will indeed run for that U.S. House seat. But first Ben delivers a slurry toast to Donna and Joe, which he immediately follows with a spirited dance set to the classic hit “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock.
To the nuptials we go: While “Donna and Joe” lacks the pathos of “Leslie and Ben” or “Fancy Party” before it, it pays off with the “complicated tapestry” that is Donna’s fellow Meagles. Her clan comes to life in full United Colors of Benneton glory. April, as the maid of honor, is tasked with ensuring Donna’s relatives don’t cause trouble, which she handles with aplomb, though weirded out by her own desire to actually make another person (Donna) happy and stress-free.
Like an ice sculpture at an elegant affair, the wedding comes and goes far too quickly. As we are allowed just one episode this week, this could easily have been fleshed out into a full-hour bonanza. But these tightly packed 22 minutes show Parks and Rec firing on all comedic cylinders. And to that, we say:
» All hail the return of Christie Brinkley as Mrs. Garry Gergich. (And Garry’s now being called by his given name for the first time in 30 years. Aw, shucks, gang. You know how to make a guy feel good.)
» “Say what you will about organized religion; those bastards knew how to construct an edifice.” Ron Swanson, everybody.
» Hoosiers, note the trio of Upland Brewing Co. taps at Tom’s Bistro behind Leslie and Ben during the rehearsal party scene.
» Ben and Leslie’s matching pajamas with the slogan “Willy Wonka and the Policy Factory.” Cynics can’t hold a candle to the personal and professional passions these two share.
» Never forget the idea of a drunk Leslie calling “867-5309.” Repeatedly.
» Let us mourn the would-be romance between Craig and Typhoon.
» “Steal my thunder? I’m sorry, have you seen how I’m wearing this dress?”
» LeVondrius, Donna’s estranged brother since Season 2, is finally revealed. Well, hello, Questlove!
With hope, we’ll have two episodes to rehash next week. See you then! For now, we’ll take our cue from Jen Barkley:
See our Parks and Recreation final-season recap blog and more coverage here. The show’s series finale airs February 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC.