“In order to save our park, we have to destroy the entire town.”
Leslie Knope loves Pawnee. She loves it more than hypothetical Pawnee, more than her own success rate, more than THINGS—and things are forever (Dalai Lama). So when the Pawnee Commons project comes up $50,000 short, Ben has the answer: instead of registering for things, they can register for the park. Mark that down as the first time this episode made me borderline weepy, because (a) this show and its big, selfless, service-loving heart, (b) Ben Wyatt is a sexy hummingbird who wants to build something, and he’s opened up so much that it’s not just a matter of making Leslie happy—giving back to Pawnee makes him happy too, because (c) Ben and Leslie are perfect together, perfect, perfect, perfect I tell you.
Leslie embraces the idea, obvs. They’ll throw a gala, and people can donate or bid to put their names on benches, cobblestones, trees, ants, air (Ben: “Right, some of that is possible.”) Fast-forward a week, and the gala is so totally on: the tent is up, the team is assembled, and Leslie will be expecting them to jump off a bridge if she tells them to. They’ll do it. I’d do it. SHE’S LESLIE KNOPE. And when she has to leave for an emergency preparedness drill, they do jump—right into the great unknown of Leslie Knope’s event-planning itinerary.
Ben’s inspiring leadership notwithstanding, everything falls to pieces. Tom can’t find a caterer, the emergency drill has commandeered the lot, and there’s only one chair to be found. But Donna’s got a lead on a second, so don’t panic.
In Leslie’s absence, Ron volunteers to go on Pawnee Today—which, since Joan Callamezzo has booze cruised herself into unconsciousness, is almost immediately renamed “You’re On With Ron.” The camera loves him like he loves novels about tall ships. And this show is going to be a thing, right? Like, not just in Pawnee, but in America? It has to be. America needs Ron Swanson. We need his tough love and his complete confidence. Ron is the same person with every non-Tammy he meets. He’s always Ron, and he is always exactly the kind of man who will say this:
“In my experience, when a woman asks a question like that, she’s feeling insecure for some other reason. Maybe you shouldn’t say anything to her and just put your hand on the side of her face, tell her that you love her, and that she is the greatest woman you’ve ever met. Also in my opinion, most women in this world are vastly too skinny.”
Ron Swanson has the Dorothy Everytime Smurf Award for Excellence in Female Stuff. Next caller, please.
Next page: Can’t fly away from real life.