zombie_boogie: (parks | leslie knope)
[personal profile] zombie_boogie

"Every year I give Leslie the same present I give everyone: a crisp $20 bill. And every year she gets me something thoughtful and personal. It makes me furious. This year she outdid herself."

The fact that Leslie Knope is fictional, and therefore cannot be my best friend, is a tragedy on par with human trafficking. My favourite gift has to be April's, because that is a masterpiece. I know some people were disappointed that we didn't get to see what she got Ben or Ann, but I think not showing their gifts implies a heightened degree of intimacy. She would give her boyfriend and her best friend their gifts in person and in private (not that I don't desperately want to know what they got, but it makes sense that they wouldn't show them on-camera).

"The more she's mentioned a word the larger it appears."
"Ben... and much larger Ann. She definitely loves Ann."

ANN'S FACE. Anyway, I'm assuming most people have seen the full version of Leslie's word cloud since it was released on the NBC site and made its way to Tumblr and Livejournal, but here it is nevertheless:

A few things of note:

  • I'm honestly surprised waffles isn't larger.
  • Biden!
  • Icetown!
  • I hope the fact that both "seal" and "seals" is on there is some kind of Arrested Development reference.
  • I really hope that jeggings is on there because Leslie complains about them so much.
  • I love that Leslie watches Downton Abbey. I bet she wept at this fanvid like everyone else.
  • I am somehow not surprised that she listens to Taylor Swift.

    "I didn't do anything for my office"
    "It's OK I took care of it. I made a marshmallow Ron Swanson. His arms are crossed because he's mad at all the other marshmallow workers for annoying him. Do you like it?"
    "It's fine."

    Like Alan Sepinwall, I wish that Marshmallow Ron Swansons were available at my corner grocery store. In other news, Ron and April continue to give me all of the feelings. [livejournal.com profile] falulatonks recently noted on her Tumblr that Ron and April's relationship works so well because they are both really bad at not caring, especially when it comes to each other. I also love this little moment between Ann and Andy (and the fact that April chimed in on Ann's second command - I really wish they hadn't cut the deleted scene between these two ladies). I wonder how many times Ann had to tell Andy to go throw up over the course of their relationship.

    "Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose."

    I don't watch Friday Night Lights, but even I had a little squee moment when Leslie uttered the above quote (I'm thinking FNL is something I should probably watch, especially if it contains the same kind of warmth, underdog spirit, and sense of interdependence among its characters as Parks). I thought the PCP would result in far more hilarious shenanigans, especially considering how often Leslie has to face the colourful residents of Pawnee at town hall meetings, but I suppose that since the episode was already packed with funny and heartfelt moments that I can let the fact that her action committee was no more than a blip slide. We'll have to see what future episodes bring, but this group could end up being a nice flash of Leslie's ability to rally people that will surely play a part in her campaign.

    It was also interesting to me that Leslie and Chris had three scenes together, and despite their quibbles over nasal spray and jogging path harassment, they ended things on a positive note. I still have the same problems with Chris' characterization that I had as of the last episode, but I'm glad these two people are on friendly terms. A part of me might have been satisfied to see Leslie really stick it to Chris, but it isn't like her, and it isn't like the show, to hold a grudge.

    "I'm sorry Leslie. You were a great candidate, but it's over."

    Even though I was fairly certain that this blow would not result in the end of Leslie's campaign, it was still devastating to watch. It was devastating not only because Leslie was crushed, but because it broke my heart to see that at the moment Pawnee does not love Leslie the way she loves Pawnee. "Pawnee" is one of the largest words on Leslie's word cloud (along with "parks"), but Leslie doesn't even warrant a mention on the town's collective word cloud. And that makes me sad. It also makes me sad that a town that keeps re-electing Councilman Dexhart would be sour on Leslie, but sadly it's understandable. Four words: she is a woman.

    I can't say I'll be disappointed to part ways with Barnes and Elizabeth. I always found them to be peculiar additions to the story. I can't say I'm an expert on municipal elections, but from the beginning it seemed odd that Pawnee would have professional campaign strategists who head hunted potential candidates for office. It also bugged me that the only thing they seemed to do was poll people - and I suspect that the way they phrased things in their poll played heavily into Leslie's dramatic drop in public opinion. I figured that at some point Leslie would get rid of her team, but I assumed that it would take longer and it would somehow involve her team trying to push Leslie into being the kind of candidate she didn't want to be. Regardless, I am getting the exact thing I wanted for her campaign - for it to be a grassroots campaign involving Leslie and her friends. It's a Saturnalian miracle.

    I've noticed there's been a lot of discussion regarding the lack of fallout from Leslie and Ben's scandal in this episode. I think it's a legitimate complaint, though I can understand why the writers chose to avoid it for the most part. For one thing, I think adding in a lot of scandal coverage would have shifted the tone of the episode to something I do not think they were going for. I think the fallout is also something that will be addressed long-term over the course of this campaign storyline. This scandal is not something that broke, so much as it is something that will be brought up in future episodes when there is a candidates debate, when an opponent releases an attack ad, or when Leslie does interviews with Pawnee Today, Ya Heard With Perd, or with Shauna for the Pawnee Sun. It's not a contained scandal like the Dexhart incident in "Christmas Scandal" that can be brought up and then resolved in time for Christmas cheer by the end of the episode, so I'm OK with the fact that the writers decided not to address it in a substantial way. That said, I certainly do hope we see the fallout in future episodes (I am especially looking forward to Leslie interviewing with Shauna).

    "Don't touch my pickles Ann!"

    I'm so glad that they followed up the previous scene with Leslie/Ann friendship time. A lot of their conversations of late have focused on their relationships, so it was nice to see them conversing about the campaign. This scene also had the effect of making me root for Leslie more than ever before. It's not that I didn't want to see her win, or that I ever doubted that she really wanted this. It's just that in this scene she wasn't just speaking about her campaign as a dream. I think it was her direct comparison between her current job in the parks department and the city council job that she wanted that really got me, and I wanted this for her more than ever. At the same time, I'm torn on what I want the ultimate result to be. I'd hate to see Leslie lose, but at the same time I don't necessarily like the thought of her leaving parks. I've been thinking for awhile that the story in the back half of the season will be Parks vs. Office in Leslie's mind (as opposed to Ben vs. Office), in that she'll struggle with her love for her current position versus her life-long dream. There's a part of me that thinks a nice ending for the season would be her choosing the parks department (and maybe getting a promotion to director of the department so that there's still a sense of forward progression). But then this episode gave me the sense that she really, really wanted this new opportunity so I'm conflicted. We'll just have to see how it plays out.


    "This is probably the first time you've had off since you've been kid president true or false? True! Why don't you use that time and go after one of your passions, like model trains or, like, toy Gandalfs or something?
    Why'd you jump straight to model trains? I mean... it's accurate."
    I'm gonna tell you something that I once heard from a very, very smart woman named Kim..."
    The lady who waxes you?
    She told me if you don't love what you do, why do it? Then she ripped the hair from my B-hole!"

    The A and B plots set up Leslie's campaign storyline for the back half of the season beautifully, and Ben's C plot set up his story for the rest of the season really well too. His story has always been about finding a sense of belonging and meaning, and I think that will continue as he figures out where he wants his career to go. Ben is actually a lot like Leslie in that his career is a huge part of his sense self-definition, but unlike Leslie he has yet to find that job that gives him a sense of fulfillment. I think the rest of the season will be about Ben finding passion in his work, whatever that might be. I think it's fairly obvious that Ben will become involved in Leslie's campaign, which is a ripe opportunity to bring back the boy mayor stuff and add some interesting conflict to their relationship (let's not forget that he took the state auditor's job to prove he was responsible enough to run for office, and now that he's resigned in disgrace, well...). I assume in the long-term he'll eventually find his way back to city government, and can I put a vote in for him to replace a certain department head who was fired in the season premiere for harassing people with pictures of his penis? He could be Sewage Ben!

    Ben's job hunting scenes were a complete delight as they were a smorgasbord of call backs and continuity nods. I remember before the episode aired someone posted a picture of Barney the boring accountant guy on Tumblr with a note about wanting him to re-appear, and then bam! There he is! And Dennis Feinstein! AND JEAN-RALPHIO. JUMP UP ON ME. I will never, ever get tired of Ben being startled and horrified. In fact, if someone made me a gif set on Tumblr of that very thing I would love you forever! But just look at these two idiots having a motherfucking hair-off. It took a lot of willpower on my part not to use a cap from every single frame of their scene together. Ben's sad little "it's accurate" line was probably my favourite line of the episode. And that might be because I have a husband who has expressed enthusiasm for model trains (as well as math, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. Y'all can be jealous now that I have my own Ben Wyatt).

    "I... turned down that accounting job. Just didn't feel right. That's OK, right?"
    "Yeah! I think that's great. I'm really proud of you. What are you gonna do instead?"
    "I have no idea."
    "I like it."
    "Well, I guess I'll just see you at home."

    I am going to miss your terrible, mushy faces over the next five weeks (five weeks). Obviously I loved seeing them as an established, committed couple just as much as they probably enjoyed finally being able to have a normal, public relationship. The beauty of these scenes, for me, was in the details. I loved seeing them in casual, domestic situations (the "see you at home" was such an off-hand statement, but it spoke volumes of where they are emotionally). I loved the natural back-and-forth support in their conversations, whether it was Leslie being supportive of Ben taking time to find a job he really loves, or Ben offering Leslie suggestions of how she can productively use her time. I loved the balance to their partnership - we often see Ben grounding Leslie, but Leslie is also able to pull Ben back up when he fixates on the negative like "resigned in disgrace". I loved that even though they were both dealing with a lot of heavy stuff - Ben trying to rebuild his career after resigning, and Leslie being upset over her campaign being in shambles - that I never got a sense that they were resentful or regretful over their relationship. And I loved that they could still side-eye each other's various idiosyncracies (Ben finding numbers exciting or Leslie putting sugar on her pasta). Speaking of the latter, this comparison popped up on Tumblr it it's just genius ("I just like to smile! Smiling's my favourite!"):


    Oh and of course I loved April and Andy barging in to eat Leslie's pasta. Would it be weird to say that my most fervent wish is that Leslie just moves in with Ben/April/Andy? JUST IMAGINE HOW WONDERFUL THAT WOULD BE. THERE WOULD BE MARSHMALLOW GUN FIGHTS EVERY DAY.

    I know some people were bothered that Ben didn't stay for the parks department Christmas party, and admittedly I did have a tiny twinge of sadness about it. Mostly because the first several episodes of the season were about incorporating him into the fold and having him make friends with these people outside of Leslie. That said, I think it was the best decision on a character level and on a meta textual level. I think Ben leaving to let Leslie have her moment with her department colleagues speaks to how their relationship is a mature, adult one; that moment wasn't about Ben, and it wasn't about Ben and Leslie, and he understood that. The writers understood that as well. Ben joining Leslie's campaign will likely be it's own storyline in a later episode in the new year, so having him there for the reveal would have been awkward.

    "April Ludgate, Youth Outreach and Director of New Media"
    "Tom Haverford, Image Consultant, Swagger Coach"
    "Ann Perkins, Office Manager and Volunteer Coordinator"
    "Andy Dwyer, Security, Sweets, Body Man. Javelin if need be"
    "Donna Meagle, Transpo a.k.a. Rides in my Benz"
    "You guys didn't tell me we were doing this! I did not know that I was suppose to come up with something."
    "Ron Swanson, any other damn thing you might need."

    "Giving Christmas gifts is like a sport to me. Finding or making that perfect something. It's also like a sport to me because I always win. This year though, my friends won. In fact, I got my ass handed to me."

    Is there really any appropriate response to this scene other than openly weeping happy tears? Ron really got to me the most, because this is a man who proudly declared that a guy whose last name he didn't know and who he still didn't talk to sometimes was the best friend he ever had. And yet this is the guy who spent the entire episode agonizing over the fact that he couldn't participate in the gingerbread project because he felt this powerful need to make Leslie happy. And then we have the rest of this crew, who in season one treated Leslie with mild indifference verging on disdain. And now... now they are banding together as a team to help her realize her dream. Because she would do the same for them. INSERT TROY BARNES "MY EMOTIONS" GIF HERE. There are a lot of comparisons to be made between this episode and "Christmas Scandal" - the obvious holiday theme, the scandal bringing Leslie down, her colleagues showing her how much she means to them. But this episode also reminded me strongly of "Harvest Festival". It was the perfect balance between funny and sweet (sort of like the episode equivalent of salgar), and it focused on the ensemble. More than that, though, is that it gave me the same kind of hopeful feeling that "Harvest Festival" did. Almost every episode of Parks is uplifting, but "Harvest Festival" and "Citizen Knope" both gave me that feeling that this group of people, centred around Leslie, can truly achieve marvelous things together. And there I go getting all sappy.
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