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This episode only had a few laughs, and the central conceit – whether they would be able to fundraise $50,000 for Pawnee Commons – felt like a gimme (Councilman Jamm just doesn’t seem like a worthy adversary for Leslie, despite his attempts to woo the planning commission with Paunch Burger’s greasy lard bombs), but it doesn’t matter because it all ends with a “to be continued…” We just might have an impromptu Leslie and Ben wedding next week!
But first, let’s talk emergency drills. Growing up on the West Coast meant earthquake drills were a normal part of life. Once the alarm sounded, we took cover under our desks until they deemed it safe to walk to the football field where paramedics would be waiting to take care of the “wounded” students. Drills always felt like an excuse to get out of class, but at least we would be somewhat prepared should a real emergency happen.
While the episode focuses on the emergency drill that strikes Pawnee with the avian flu, it also shows that Ben and the gang can manage without Leslie’s micromanaging. Leslie’s capability as Deputy Parks Director has often been front and center during the series. She’s the glue that holds everyone together during difficult moments, but there are times, like this particular day, where Leslie has to let go of the reins and trust that other people can carry out her vision. Ben takes over the planning duties for the fundraising gala, and just when it seems like Tom will anger more chefs with his ass-kissing knowledge of all things French or Donna won’t be able to find any more chairs, everything eventually falls into place.
In a wholly uncharacteristic move for Ron Swanson, he volunteers as tribute, wait, no, he volunteers as Leslie’s proxy on Pawnee Today to promote the gala. Host Joan Callamezzo is absolutely blitzed after enjoying one too many on a booze cruise, but her staff is too scared to remove her from the set. Eventually, in one of the funnier moments of the episode, Ron takes over and starts fielding calls as Joan remains passed out in various awkward positions on set. After hanging up on someone who wants his opinion on the sexiest couple in history (it’s RPatz and KStew, obviously), he puts his own spin on answering questions, and we’re left wondering why he doesn’t have his own cable access show. Ron doesn’t deviate from what he knows (woodworking, novels about tall ships, and meat), but it’s Leslian (can that be a word?) for him to stick around and gamely answer these silly questions. He’s developed into a person who Leslie can rely on, even if it’s venturing completely outside his comfort zone as the gala spokesman. It’s another case of Leslie rubbing off on her colleagues in a positive way, and the viewers are rewarded with Ron’s bon mots, some of which I’ve listed below.
Leslie, Pawnee’s emergency czar, is as prepared as ever for the drill sprung on her (thanks to Jamm’s meddling) with binders labeled “Mission Im-Pawnee-ble: Knope Protocol” and DVD scenarios with her acting as various characters reporting on the emergency, but she decides to sabotage the drill in order to attend the gala. It’s curious that she isn’t more upset that Pawnee failed the emergency preparedness review for the thirteenth time in a row, but making the park a reality was always priority number one. Of course, as happy endings go, everyone was fully capable of organizing the fundraiser to meet Leslie’s standards, and we get the warm fuzzies to see that teamwork made the dream work.
Although part of Leslie’s charm is her extreme way of handling situations (even her attempts at sabotaging the drill included having all officers perform CPR on the birds and inflicting a tornado-quake on Pawnee), having Ben in her life has been a huge positive. When she starts freaking out about the impending gala, he gives her three words: “Leslie, it’s okay.” And the way they balance each other out bodes well for their impending nuptials, whether they happen now or three months from now. Leslie and Ben forever!
Notes and Quotes
- Andy’s method of studying for the police exam actually makes sense (“I picture 35 a-salt shakers and 42 batteries” to remember a code 3542 means assault and battery) until it doesn’t (“I picture 533 salt shakers and batteries lighting a building on fire” for arson). But he must have done something right because he was the first person to get a perfect score on the written test! It’s just a shame that a genius like Andy can’t pass the personality test. Giving guns to children is never a good thing, whether you think you’re fulfilling their dreams or not. What will become of his hopes to be one of Pawnee’s finest? Maybe he should take Mouse Rat out on tour!
- “You’re On With Ron” had so many wonderful gems. “Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat, and cats are pointless.” “Your house isn’t haunted. You’re lonely.” “Hey, I have some apples. Would you like to buy them? Yes, thank you. That’s as complicated as it should be to open a business in this country.” I would watch a show with Ron answering viewer questions in a heartbeat.
- Dear, sweet Ann. Let’s stop asking any guy that shows some level of competence if he will let you use his sperm, okay?
- In the closing tag, we get the earthquake spiel with Channel 4’s Jessica Wrabbrit, and it’s just as hilarious as the avian flu video. More of Leslie’s DVD scenarios, please!