Parks and Recreation Recap: Treat Yo Self to Some Data Mining
Leslie Knope battles Tragically Hip Tech Kids as Donna and Tom flee Pawnee.
Much like the main plot point in this week’s first episode, “Gryzzylbox,” it seems like the writers of Parks and Recreation are data-mining our emails, texts, and Tumblr accounts to deliver favorite bits from seasons past in this final stretch of episodes. Both eps Tuesday night felt like a best-of clip show done without the use of actual clips from instantly great scenes.
We learn at the top of the show that both Donna and Leslie have received a Gryzzlbox, delivered via flying drone directly to their front doors. Upon inspecting their respective boxes’ contents, they come to the conclusion that Gryzzl must be using data-mining so as to know the intimate details of their lives. Donna receives two bear-shaped bottles of honey and a container of sugar plums—the pet names she and fiance Joe (Keegan-Michael Key) share. Leslie’s gifted goods? Several highly personal items, including what is sure to be the next pick on Joan’s Book Club: Biden the Rails: 1001 Poems Inspired by My Travels Through Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
Although Donna technically still works for Gryzzl, she joins forces with Leslie to take down the hipster-run company after such an egregious invasion of privacy: “You gonna put me on blast. I’m gonna put you on Front Street.”
Thus Donna uses her “in” with Gryzzl to get Ben and Leslie a private tour. Prior to said tour, Leslie holds another patented Pawnee town-hall meeting to gauge folks’ temperature on data-mining. Once again we are visited by a litany of wacky local characters and their TMI-styled complaints. In another testament to the writers’ ability to spin an old gag with a fresh take, the town hall ends up chanting in support of Leslie, for once.
From there, Leslie and Ben head to Gryzzl for that tour, and we soon learn the biz’s practices are decidedly “not chill.” This leads Leslie to challenge Grizzyl honcho Roscoe to a live televised debate. Cue the entrance of Pawnee’s clueless news anchor, Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson), who is now the star of his own Judgeship (Not a Real Judge) show entitled The Perdples Court. Right before the confrontation goes live, Ron confronts the gang with word that Gryzzl is actually data-mining legally after slipping an addendum into a 500-page agreement between the town and the company. Having signed the agreement himself, Ben immediately panics: “This is Ice Town all over again!”
Sidebar! As an 18-year-old, Ben was elected mayor of Partridge, Minnesota, and quickly impeached two months later after running the town’s finances into the ground. That was due to the construction of Ice Town, a winter-sports complex. Though he steps up to the plate to help Leslie in present day, he delivers a monologue that seems a Parks and Rec writer’s personal diatribe against all-too-real data-mining. Though Leslie and Ben can’t prove that Gryzzl has done anything illegal, they do manage to tarnish the brand’s rep.
The episode ends with Ron’s 4-year-old son receiving a Gryzzl box, which his father promptly shoots out of the sky. Ron shows up at Leslie and Ben’s door in the rain with this message: “Tell me what to do Leslie,. I want to take them down.”
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Gryzzl appears defensive after having its name dragged through the proverbial mud and plans a concert set to feature U2 and Beyonce. While Team Knope is devising a plan to divide the parcel of land in half—between their national park and Grizzyl HQ—they are interrupted by a special announcement. The Sweetums empress appears on TV to inform Pawnee’s citizens that Grizzyl has upped its offer to $125 million for her land, and with that, she intends to sell: “Let me repeat that because it makes me very horny.”
Let down by losing the Newport land, Ron takes Leslie and team to JJ’s Diner to “drown their sorrows in waffles.” But at JJ’s, they soon encounter more trouble: JJ is shuttering due to a landlord not renewing his lease.
Team Knope sets out to Save JJ’s (this second ep’s title), which leads them to the doorstep of the devious Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas), Pawnee’s own fragrance mogul. Dennis is too busy to hear the wisdom and reasoning of Jonathan Karate, the older brother of Johnny Karate, Andy’s local-children’s-show character. En route to “pull the plug” on his father, Dennis stops at Leslie’s protest outside and says he will never save JJ’s, and prompts his mercenaries to spray demonstrators with a failed cologne as he exits.
Realizing they can’t save JJ’s Diner, Team Knope sets out to find a new location for their beloved greasy spoon. This brings them to the neighborhood where Andy and April recently bought a home. Upon touring one of the properties, Ron and Leslie immediately realize a plan to save both JJ’s and their play for the Newport land. They present an idea to Gryzzl operatives that would have the tragically hip company save the rundown neighborhood by moving its HQ into a to-be-revitalized city block and donating the Newport land for use as Leslie’s national park. This allows Gryzzyl to save on construction costs and save face with the people of Pawnee. Though this does tie up a storyline with a nifty bow, we enjoy the way Parks and Rec isn’t afraid to move right along and keep us guessing.
Our favorite moment of last night’s episodes was the return of Treat Yo Self: 2017 Edition. Donna and Joe are sampling wedding-cake options at Tom’s Bistro, where Tom reveals that he will be the self-labeled “butler of honor” at Donna’s wedding. Tom quickly whisks BFF Donna away to Beverly Hills, where they can treat themselves. (Duh!)
But first: Tom biffs his offer to freshly single employee Lucy to be his arm candy at Donna’s nuptials.
NEW: Li’l Sebastian Droppings
» We really need Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion to be a real show. Like yesterday.
» Craig lists (get it?) the things that he likes as an exercise he learned from his therapist, Dr. Richard Nygard, formerly Chris Traeger’s own therapist.
» April continues on her quest to find her real passion, and on the way, warns Craig’s newest interns of the parks department, as it allegedly ruined her life as a newbie a decade ago. Craig later talks sense into April, explaining she would be just a gas-station checkout clerk if it weren’t for Leslie and the parks department.
» Tom renegotiates Andy’s contract with station head Hank Muntak (Dax Shepard), who “made Selena Gomez … not that Selena Gomez.”
» Leslie Knope: “I think this town is losing its charm, and the place has too much kale now. One place asked me if I wanted kale in my milkshake. My milkshake, you guys.”
See you next week!
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. Going through withdrawal between episodes? More info is on the websites for the show and the (psst, fictional) Town of Pawnee.