S3E6: This week’s Parks and Recreation had a slightly different feel than previous episodes. That’s not to say it wasn’t good (because it was good — very, very good), but rather, this week the writers took some risks outside of the characters’ comfort zone. And, well, it worked. In “Indianapolis,” we have a few different story lines happening. First, Leslie and Ron are heading to the titular location to receive an accreditation for Leslie’s work with the Harvest Festival. Tom, on the other hand, is throwing a party at the Snakehole lounge. April and Andy are finally full-on dating. And, we get some answers to this season’s big question: what will happen to Chris and Ann (Perkins!).
“Club opens at 6. Event starts at 9.” -Tom
“No, way too late. I will be deep into my bath by then.” -Jerry
Tom invites the entire office to his party, and of course, Jerry does his whole Jerry thing and doesn’t accept the invite (you suck, Jerry!). But, there’s an alternative motive to Tom’s party. He wants to impress Pawnee’s local cologne mogul Dennis Feinstein with his own scent, Tommy Fresh. Everybody who can go says they will, except for Ben, because Ben thinks of all the people in the small towns he visits for an extended time are just Facebook friends, nothing more. But, Leslie — who’s always looking out for others — convinces Tom to bring Ben.
“I kinda forgot that you need money when you have a girlfriend. Hm.” -Andy
Meanwhile, Andy and April are officially an item. Hooray! But, Andy forgot that when you have a girlfriend, you’re expected to buy her things, not just “watch TV at Best Buy.” That night, the two head to the Snakehole and Andy can’t afford to buy any drinks and attempts to rely on the fact that he knows Tom as a ploy to get free booze. Unfortunately it doesn’t work and he admits to April that he’s embarrassed that he can’t take care of her the way that he wants. And then, April proves why she and Andy are perfect for each other. She says she doesn’t care about stuff and just wants to “hang out.” After all, she gets free stuff all the time, right? Andy doesn’t believe her, so she proves it, making guys buy her drinks all over the bar. This leads to Andy and April starting a competition based around who can get the most free stuff.
Andy and April are wonderful together. There’s no other way to put it. Their relationship is so fun because, frankly, they are just so genuine with each other. They like one another for no other reason than the fact that they just like each other. It’s almost like a high school relationship — they have no cares other than each other. Andy doesn’t want to make money so he can buy himself a house or a car or anything; no, Andy wants to make money so he can buy April diamonds.
“Ron, would you like some salad?” -Chris
“Since I am not a rabbit, no, I do not.” -Ron
Leslie and Ron head to Indianapolis, home to the state office and Ron’s favorite steakhouse — a magical place that he’s been eating at for almost 20 years (dude even has a picture of every steak he’s eaten). On the way, Ann calls Leslie and is concerned that Chris is cheating on her. Leslie offers to investigate, so they meet Chris for dinner. They arrive at the steakhouse and turns out it’s closed. This news not only upsets Ron, but returns him to the maturity level of an 8-year-old. Thankfully, Chris offers to make dinner at his house. Once they return to Chris’, Leslie does some searching around. She finds a woman’s razor in the shower along with a pink swim cap. She calls Ann and tells her that her suspicions might be true and before Leslie can even hang up, Ann is on the way to Indianapolis.
“This smells like somebody spilled Chinese food in a birdcage.” -Dennis Feinstein
Back in Pawnee, Ben and Tom are hanging out at the Snakehole and Tom introduces himself to Feinstein. He sprays Tommy Fresh in Feinstein’s face, but he doesn’t get the response he hoped for. Turns out, unsurprisingly, Feinstein is a total douche and hates on Tom’s cologne. But Ben is there to comfort him — and at the end of the night, Ben covers Feinstein’s truck with Tommy Fresh (which, in turn, made Ben puke. It must smell really, really awful).
Slowly, Ben is committing more and more of his life to Pawnee. It’s an interesting path for Ben to take, because, as I’ve always said, at its heart, Parks and Recreation is about the town of Pawnee. And the fact is that small towns like Pawnee have an incredible, almost mystical way of pulling you in and “trapping” you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that negatively and I don’t think small towns are an awful place to live. But, while growing up in a place very similar to Pawnee, I saw this type of thing all the time. People would come to the town, whether it was initially temporary or a permanent, move and they’d slowly adapt to the culture, wrapping themselves up inside the town until they don’t remember life outside. In a way, small towns are like a drug. When you’re inside, you can barely see anything happening past the borders, but once you remove yourself, you realize there’s an entire world out there that you forgot. Parks and Recreation is bravely, and subtly, addressing this culture — and it’s working quite brilliantly.
“We broke up a week ago.” -Chris
After Ron learns that Chris isn’t serving steak, but instead, portabello mushrooms, he loses it. But before he gets too crazy, Ann shows up at Chris’ house and accuses him of cheating. But we quickly learn that Chris hasn’t been cheating (the razor and cap were both his, for swimming). No, instead, he and Ann actually broke up a week ago, but because Chris is so optimistic about everything Ann didn’t even realize it. Poor little Ann, she’s so pretty that she’s never been dumped, so she doesn’t even know what that feels like.
The break-up was a great twist. The entire episode had been leaning toward a big reveal. At first, I didn’t think it was possible for Chis to be a cheater, but the writers didn’t let up. They kept hinting, over and over, and plus, Chris’ words kept planting seeds of doubt in my mind about his character (specifically, his “uncomfortable” line). After awhile, I started to buy that maybe Chris was in fact a cheater. But as soon as I was on board the real twist came and, well, it was just great. Rashida Jones finally got the opportunity to bust out of her character a bit, since Ann has remained pretty much the same the past couple of seasons. Sure, it was sad to see Ann so hurt, but it also gave us the opportunity to see Leslie comfort her, reminding us that Leslie is a wonderful friend and awful with relationships (“Skywriting isn’t always positive.”). And, oh yeah, that steak? Ron never got it.