No matter what happens, no matter how beaten and battered Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope may find herself, she’ll never stay down for long. So is it true for the show itself, which returned for two pretty strong episodes last night that put the City Council story to rest and served as yet another reason to shake a fist at NBC for depriving us of this show while Comedy Thursday continues to burn itself into oblivion. The premises for both episodes were simple: Leslie filibusters to protect voting rights of Eagleton citizens, even though they want to vote her out in favor of Kristen Bell‘s Ingrid DuForest; and, Leslie hits rock bottom on Halloween after losing the recall election. But what made these two episodes sing was the funny stuff, so let’s get straight to that. Here are the top 10 things from last night’s hour of smalltown government comedy:
The Funny Stuff, Round 1 (“Filibuster”):
1. Roller skating! Not to be confused with roller blading, Ben’s roller-rink birthday party and its accompanying early ’90s theme was a delight. If only we could have seen the full choreographed couple’s dance to “Losing My Religion” that we were promised.
2. Andy’s Back! Chris Pratt‘s Guardians of the Galaxy schedule opened up briefly to offer this short but sweet vingette as April was able to overcome her usual bitterness to encourage him to fake it until he makes it, “Because everyone sucks but you’re awesome.”
3. Ron + Donna! Ron’s endeavors to beat a Buckhunter-style hunting arcade game was all funny and was a great venue to see his mounting frustration mirrored by Donna’s total apathy. Their brief sorjurn to the woods to hunt without a permit? Totally hilarious. And if you thought Donna would play striaght man to Ron’s woodsman, you were sorely mistaken. “You know I don’t give a f**k.”
4. Tatiana Maslany! She’s making another in the lost list of Tom’s girlfriends come alive, really, for the first time. While her character is still hard to figure out, she’s undeniably charming. This was supposed to be the last of her character, but hopefully everyone realizes how wonderful she is and she returns some time in 2014.
5. Jammargarita Mix! Councilman Jamm has been a worthy and frustrating foe, but with Leslie’s triumph here it seems Jamm has finally lost his power over her and the council. Even though Leslie won’t remain a Councilwoman, the image of her pouring his own freshly made margs on his beautiful curls will surely linger.
The Funny Stuff, Round 2 (“Recall Vote”):
1. Sad Leslie. Scarfing down burgers, dressed in an old t-shirt, and dispassionate even on Halloween, it was a nearly unrecognizable Knope for most of this half-hour. It could have been heartwrenching, but luckily Leslie is such a bighearted character that she can’t help but commit even when she’s feeling down. Her concession speech was a thing of apathetic beauty: “Eat my shorts, jabronis. Knope out.”
2. Ben’s Drunk! Hey, remember when Ben was a washed-up old kid mayor? Neither did he, until this episode, which gave Adam Scott the chance to also remind us that he is an all star when playing drunk. Also, shoutout to Ben for making that sweet Li’l Sebastian model, and bonus points for lovingly petting its mane.
3. Tom Sells Out! While the logical conclusion would be that Tom holds out and rides his business into the ground honorably, instead he gleefully sells out for 60 grand. It also provided a nice counterpoint to Ron’s steadfast insistance that he would refuse to mass produce his Swanson chairs. Which leads into…
4. Lifestyle Guru! P&R can really hit a sweet spot satirically when it’s making fun of the pampered bourgeosie (case in point: Treat Yo’Self!), and Annabelle Porter, who looks suspiciously like an off-brand Jessica Alba and sounds suspiciously like an off-brand Gwyneth Paltrow, is on-point, with her needless, pretentious email blast celebrating the most essential non-essentials Pawnee has to offer.
5. Sick Tats! That pawn shop would have made a great tattoo parlor. Chainsaws were everywhere, and the ink comes from real ballpoint pens! And you can start the countdown until diehard fans of P&R and/or awesomeness start getting Eleanor Roosevelt with a tasteful tattoo of Pat Benatar put on their forearms.