Parks and Recreation Recap: “Pawnee Commons”–Good Luck With That

CALLING ALL PAWNEEANS, ARCHITECTS, JUNKIE WAR-CRIMINAL PIMPS: Leslie Knope needs your help. She’s designing Lot 48, and everyone’s input is welcome. She even solicits ideas on Wamapoke County Public Radio, which is fast becoming one of my favorite Pawnee subcultures. Derry Merbles is a machine (“The Batman: a strong gentleman who fights crime nocturnally”), and I’d totally watch a “Thoughts for Your Thoughts” spinoff. Everyone would always be filling in for each other, and we’d get plenty of spoken word operas about pear-shaped women. This is all I need in a sitcom.

Actually, I’d watch a spinoff about any of Pawnee’s subcultures, from the news anchors to the Zorpies to the old guys who scream “I WANNA SIT MORE!” at Ron. These people—crazy as they all may be—are fun to be around. They have a history with the town and with each other, and we experience a piece of that whenever they pop up. This show’s core cast is a flawless ensemble already (no thanks to the SAG voters), so I’m glad the background players only pop up in small doses, but if Merbles ever gets his own show, I’ll be watching. You hear that, Mike Schur? I’ll be watching.

Parks treats Pawnee the same way Leslie does: they know it’s weird, but they love it anyway. Their job is to stand up for this town when no one else will. That’s why Leslie just can’t trust Wreston St. James: sure, he submits a beautiful design for Lot 48, but he’s from Eagleton, and Eagletonians have only ever hurt Pawnee. Leslie fights for Pawnee, and that gives her a genuine, emotional reason to lash out at Wreston. This episode underplayed that aspect of the story in favor of the “look at Leslie’s crazy eyes” aspect, but that’s only because the writers trust viewers to get it. We already know the passion behind the crazy eyes.

And isn’t it great to watch Leslie go nuts? It is ON like Knope on Pikitis. No matter how many times Wreston tries to prove his good intentions (or his architecture chops), Leslie is the McKayla Maroney of the Parks Department. Wreston talks about serving the public? Not impressed; he’s probably Voldemort. Segway ride in the park? Not impressed.


Balloon Ben and Leslie? Not impressed.

balloon beslie

OH COME ON LESLIE. At least make out with Ben’s balloon face first.

beslie balloon makeout

Thank God for Adam Scott and Amy Poehler.

Ben is more easily swayed by a park where “wide smiles abound” (Leslie: “Hahaha that’s so boring!”). To him, Wreston is pretty much the Bono of Eagleton, and he deserves their trust. With Ben’s coaching, and a whole lot of pep talks to herself, Leslie apologizes: a bit that’s great entirely because Amy Poehler makes it so. In return for her truce, Wreston promises to do the job pro bono—and Ben invites him to their wedding. IN MAY! I smell a finale.

In a way, Ben and Leslie are both right. When Wreston’s assistants drop off a prank scale model of the park, promising troughs full of food and showers that teach people how to bathe, it’s a perfect example of why Leslie can’t trust anyone from Eagleton. Those assistants are five seconds away from losing their throats. When Ben meets with Wreston and confirms that he had nothing to do with the prank—he even fired the jokesters, though some in the office wanted to promote them—Ben’s faith in this one man’s goodness is confirmed. You guys, Ben and Leslie need each other.

And they stand by each other where it matters most: they both love Pawnee. For Ben, that means making THE GREATEST BEN FACE EVER at a smarmy Eagleton waiter.

ben makes the face

For Leslie, that means sacrificing a whole can of whipped cream to give that butt-faced, pompous jerk a stupid tie. My favorite part of her sneak attack is how she yells “Wooo I love you Ben!” as she’s spraying a man’s face with whipped cream. Pawnee revenge schemes turn her on. But let’s remember, Wreston is innocent. Probably. Maybe. And he gets that Ben and Leslie are acting out because they care (so I gather worse things have been done to him in the name of the blood feud).

Wreston: I’ve never met two people more passionate about their hometown.

Ben: Oh, I’m actually from Minnesota.

Wreston: Why do you know so much about Pawnee?

Ben: Well, I’m in love with a woman from here. A strange, passionate goofball of a woman.

Leslie: Me. He’s in love with me.

THEY’RE IN LOVE THEY’RE IN LOVE AND THEY DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. May this park be their first little child.

pawnee commons 2

The Pawnee Commons have it all: a Wamapoke playground to ward away curses and a Li’l Sebastian fountain to honor the greatest mini horse that ever lived. Leslie only 60% objects—which, by Eagleton standards, is a 100% endorsement.

Next page: DJ Roomba drops a beat.

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