"Holy s**t Leslie, that was awesome." For the first time, maybe ever, Bobby Newport said something we could all agree on. What may or may not have inadvertently been a six-word concession speech from Leslie Knope's dopey, privileged opponent perfectly summed up the next – fingers crossed! – city council member of Pawnee's amazing closing statement.
Of course, it wasn't an immediate knockout punch from ultimate fighter Leslie Knope during the long-awaited debate on last night's Parks and Recreation aptly titled "The Debate." In fact, our gal had to put up one hell of a fight. With the adorable and supportive Ben, as always, in her corner, Leslie had to gun in guns blazing as she was behind Bobby (the endlessly funny Paul Rudd) eight percent in the polls. But the popular, crowd-baiting Bobby wasn't going to be Leslie's only challenge in the 800-seat auditorium.
The debate's moderators were none other than the hopeless Purd Hapley and unabashed Leslie hater, the newly single Joan Callamezzo; her fellow debaters were more clueless and unqualified than the next (including the return of porn star Brandy Maxxxx and the introduction of new opponents like gun nut Fester Trim, played by none other than Friday Night Lights' Buddy Garrity –er, Brad Leland); and Bobby proved to be nothing more than a spoiled child more than ever. ("That hurt my feelings" was one of his legitimate rebuttals.)
Against all logic and reason Bobby Newport looked poised to run away with winning this debate, thanks to his stupid charms and his threat that if Leslie were to win, the Newport clan would be forced to move Sweetums out of town, leaving Pawnee-ans with less jobs and less candy. Leslie had a choice: Surrender to Bobby's pandering in a political popularity contest or speak from the heart and go for the gut. Of course asking what Leslie would do in this situation is like asking if waffles are the greatest thing in the history of the world: It's a no-brainer.
Leslie delivered a stunning, eloquent, sincere closing statement condemning Bobby's message to the people of Pawnee about the Sweetums removal. "When you love something, you don't threaten it. You take care of it, you put it first.....No one takes advantage of Pawnee." BAM! If Leslie rightly wins this election for that speech Emmy voters better take a cue from the people of Pawnee and give Amy Poehler the long-overdue trip to the podium to make her own speech.
Meanwhile, as Leslie was going 12 rounds with her flailing opponents, the rest of her rag tag team was off doing their part to keep her up and swinging in the fight. April, Tom, and Chris doubled as both the "spin" team for Leslie's big debate night and the least interesting love triangle ever assembled. In the midst of another one of their break-ups, things got even more "complicated" for the infinitely unlikeable coupling of Tom and Ann when Chris tried to win his ex back. ("I honestly can't believe we ever dated" Ann cried about Tom at one point. We couldn't agree more.)
The biggest issue in this triangle is, there's no one or nothing to root for in this scenario. If anything, all three of these characters should go back to being single. Never mind that Tom and Ann have no chemistry whatsoever, but Ann acknowledges she's been better since breaking up with Chris. If Tom is planning on growing up and losing the swagger, shouldn't he be with someone who appreciates that? Shouldn't Chris learn to be on his own for a little while and realize that life knocks you on your ass and you'd better find some better ways to deal with it? Can't Ann just let these two poor guys move on for good? There's no spinning here, this is the one weak spot in Parks and Rec's otherwise great episode.
Thankfully, there was nothing even remotely close to bad about Ron, April, and Andy's storyline. Given the fancy duty of holding a donor fundraising party at their house, Ron supplied his famous ribs and Andy and April supplied their cable. Well, they would have if Andy had remembered to pay the cable bill. Of course, this is a resourceful bunch, especially in a pinch Andy killed time by re-telling and reenacting some of his favorite movies, including Road House, Rambo, and Babe, while Ron climbed a telephone poll to rig up some free cable in time for the debate. (Andy accidentally kicking the TV in a fit of excitement and Ron keeping an eye out for police atop the poll made for some of the best physical comedy moments in the show's history.)
With just two more episodes to go in the roller coaster Season 4, here's hoping Leslie pulls off this underdog victory. Not only because she so richly deserves it, but because the show does, too. If Leslie continues to evolve in her personal and professional life, the other characters will follow suit. (Just look at how much April has changed and grown during this campaign.)
Here are some of the best highlights and lines from last night's Parks and Rec "The Debate":
- Andy's excited victory cry in preparation for Team Leslie.
- April's $100 lap dances.
- All of Andy's reenactments and Donna's priceless reaction.
- The promise of a "fully functional mall on Jupiter by 2013."
- Jerry watching the debate with a group of nuns with no explanation whatsoever.
- Bobby making a graceless exit, in every sense of the word, after the debate
- "I can't believe our house is going to be full of rich people named Darling and Todd and Rick"- Andy, on holding a donor party.
- "I know. We sleep in the same bed, it's been hell"- Ben to Leslie regarding her debate dreams with Bobby.
- "Ron Swanson."- Ron's closing statement. Ron. Freakin'. Swanson.
- "We like to dabble. I recently invested in some shirts I got at a garage sale. Left 'em at Wendy's on the way home" - Andy's attempt to talk finances at their donor party.
- "Nothing gets me more amped than Sarah McLachlan"- Leslie
- "I love you and I like you"- Ben and Leslie's declaration to each other. (The feeling is mutual, guys.)
- "This question about public safety comes from Twitter, because apparently that's something that happens now" - Joan, during the debate.
- "How do we fix this town? I have no idea. You tell me."- Bobby Newport (Runner-up: His stance on abortion – "Let's all have a good time!")
So does Leslie have this thing in the bag or will Pawnee continue to stay sweet(ums) on Bobby Newport? Do you agree that Ann, Chris, and Tom all need to call it quits? Are Andy and Ron Swanson the greatest things to ever happen to television? (The answer to that last one is "Yes, of course!") Sound off in the comments section below!
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran.
[Photo credit: NBC]
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