It’s been ages, hasn’t it? Feels like it’s been a long time since we bid farewell to Ann and Chris in the last episode of Parks and Recreation. A lot has happened since then – the Winter Olympics came and went, the world spent a week mainlining the second season of House of Cards, and the merger between Eagleton and Pawnee has been going about as smoothly as you’d expect, i. e. about as well as a Stonewall-themed bobsleigh race.
Leslie needs to fix this fast, but what’s a Pawneean City Councillor to do? Just about anything she can, up to and including bribing an elderly married couple to appear on television and pretend to love each other, which predictably ends in failure. This was a side of Leslie we haven’t seen for a while – a call back to the old Leslie, naive Leslie, desperately-trying-and-failing-to-please Leslie. I really liked seeing that side of her again.
While Leslie is trying to bring together the warring factions of Pawnee-Eagleton (or Eagleton-Pawnee, depending on the power of your moustache), Ben is doing his level best to demonstrate his love for her on the eve of their first wedding anniversary, to catch her on the hop and get one over on her in the gift-giving game. This is typical Ben, lovely Ben, the Bennest Ben being just as Benny as he can be. That his perfect efforts are thwarted at every turn by Leslie trying to make things perfect between Pawnee and Eagleton is pleasing in two different ways. One, it provides an ironic counterpoint to Leslie’s efforts, and two, it allows for some gleefully surreal moments between Ben and Jerry (called Larry in this episode), the joke on their names having only just dawned on me. How did I not see this pairing on the horizon? Jerry acts as a stand-in Leslie for when she is busy with city council business, ending up in a massage, a horse and carriage situation, a Spanish cooking class and a salsa lesson along the way.