zombie_boogie: (parks | leslie + ben → on the record)
[personal profile] zombie_boogie

RON: So it learns information about me? Seems like an invasion of privacy
APRIL: Dude, if you think that's bad go to Google Earth and type in your address.


Do I really need to explain why this cold open was great? I did not think so. The Ron/April relationship continues to be magical. I particularly love April's face in the top right cap and Ron's when April was trying to explain cookies (he probably had a small aneurysm over the idea that they would attach the name of a delicious baked good to something so vile). Also Ron thought the best solution was to throw his computer in the garbage.

Sometimes I think about this ship's narrative progression and I want to openly weep. Look how far we've come, kids! TWO BIRDS HOLDING HANDS. SO MUCH BETTER THAN ONE. I love the contrast between Leslie barely condescending to touch Ben in "The Master Plan" to the two of them holding onto each other because they're taking a leap together. MY ENTIRE HEART.

"Well look, I'll be outside all day right on the other side of that wall, so if you miss me you just look... at this wrinkled, hideous monster and you'll know I'm sitting there rooting for you."

I know there are a lot of people who find established couples boring, but ugh they are my favourite. These two are so cute it's stupid. I just love their easy chemistry in this scene (and in the deleted scene in Leslie's office before they see Chris). I mean, build-up and angst are all fine and good, but I just cherish these sort of comfortable and natural interactions. I think it's going to take me awhile to absorb the fact that they are a thing that is happening, and I'm not at all worried that they'll get stale. They're both great comedic characters and still have a lot of potential in terms of character arcs so there's plenty of juice left. AND HE HAD A TOY MADE FOR HER AT THE TOY STORE. Even though he doesn't get it. Just because he knows she loves it. Good lord. I also love the way he smiles when she says getting a slap on the wrist is like getting a kick to the groin; instead of rolling his eyes at her hyperbolic statement he smiles because he knows that for her it's true.

Re-watching the episode, I think it's also pretty obvious that Ben knows he's going to lose his job. I think he wanted to let Leslie's trial play out on the chance that she wouldn't be strongly reprimanded, but from the beginning he probably knew that as the supervisor in the situation it was very likely that he would have to resign. And even though he knows this, he's still focused on supporting her. And when Leslie wins the election and becomes queen of city council she'll be able to look at that ugly painting and know Ben is rooting for her.

"In 1849, Sarah Nelson Quindal exposed her elbow outdoors, which was a Class A felony. Although she felt the law unjust, she acknowledged that she had broken it and she nobly accepted her punishment: to be set adrift on Lake Michigan like a human popsicle. Look how calm she looks. That's how I feel. Totally zen."

Things I will never tire of: the offensive murals in City Hall. This one is a beauty. I can see why they put it in that chamber. It's simply majestic. Just look at the broad, sweeping brushstrokes on the waves.

"I broke one rule and I will accept a slap on the wrist, but when you sit back and let your reputation be destroyed you go down in history as a frozen whore. I'm fighting!"

At some point when I was sorting screencaps for this recap I decided to do less recapping and more picspamming and random flailing about Leslie Knope and her face, because words cannot express how much I love this woman. Words. Cannot. Express. Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with the fact that Leslie Knope exists. Also I'd like to know what's in her power jam playlist. Pop divas? Inspirational speeches from notable political figures? A MASH-UP OF BOTH?

"In world on the brink of financial meltdown. In a town unlike any other. An adorable man with a cute face and the future president of the United States (what?) Went from being friends to being so much more. Ann! Ben and I hooked up last night! Ahhh! Ann I used how to use iMovie! Call me later bye."

Where do I even start with how amazing this was? The fact that she lovingly cut out every little poufy hair on Ben's head and then clearly got impatient when she got to her own picture? The hearts! THE EXPLOSION. The fact that she took the time to make this thing in the first place. I have so many questions. Where did she get Ben's NBC promo picture? Did April teach her how to Photoshop and use iMovie? Did Leslie create this while Ben was sleeping? I DON'T KNOW I JUST LOVE THIS SO MUCH IT'S GROSS. THEY'RE GROSS.

This also sheds some light on the timing of Leslie's feelings. It's interesting how in season three the timing of Ben's feelings were a touch more obvious than Leslie's (I remember there being a lot of speculation over the summer about the progression of Leslie's feelings for Ben). I kind of like how this season there have been several scenes that shed new light on the progression of Leslie's feelings throughout their relationship, whether it's firmly confirming that yeah, Leslie's been missing and thinking about Ben during their break up, or yeah, Leslie's feelings for Ben were as strong as his feelings for her right before "Road Trip".

"And by the way, we got the gramps. Grants. God, ugh that was going to be such an awesome moment."

You thought I was kidding about randomly picspamming her awesome face. I WAS NOT. I just love her so much you guys.

There were a lot of awesome parks department moments I could have picspammed. Andy bringing Leslie three large cups of whipped cream. Ann texting her every 30 seconds. April and Andy as character witnesses (BEAVERS DID IT!). Tom liking Leslie more because she had a sex scandal and Andy always liking her. Ron being willing to quite possibly murder someone for her. But really, all I need to do is post this screencap. This fucking shot, you guys. This fucking shot. It's making me emotional. Because these people love Leslie and this show loves Leslie and everyone wants her to succeed and I caaaaaaan't. It's just a really beautiful image seeing Leslie being cared for and literally sheltered by her friends. I cannot contain these feels.

LESLIE: This mural is called Bad Pawnee/Good Pawnee. All the terrible things that have happened in this town's history are on one side. And on the other side are all the good things that have happened. I'm on the bad side.
RON: No you're not.
LESLIE: Yes I am Ron. I'm guilty I did something bad. I'm a bad person.
RON: It's not that simple. You know what makes a good person good? When a good person does something bad they own up to it. They try to learn something from it and they move on.

This conversation with Ron illustrates two sides to Leslie that I've been noticing a lot. She may be a steamroller and often oblivious, but when she realizes she's done something wrong or hurt someone she doesn't try to deflect. She owns her behaviour. She also seems to own it to an extreme; I find it almost sad how quickly Leslie is willing to take the blame for things and assume the worst about herself (see also "The Fight" and "Smallest Park"). I respect that about her, but I also wish she wouldn't burden herself like that because sad Leslie makes me sad. Anyway, I'm glad she always has Yoda Ron to offer his sage advice. And the mural in this scene is so great. I love that it incorporates elements from other murals that we've seen before (my favourite is still Reverend Bradley punching Anna Beth Stevenson in the gut).

"Cause your actions wounded me to my core. Which is not easy, because the bulk of my workouts are focused on core strengthening."

I never thought I'd produce a picspam with this much Chris, and I probably never will again. But I wanted to talk about Chris in this episode, because I'm having a tricky time wrapping my head around his behaviour. I wish I could just ignore Chris and not think about this fucking dude, but if he's going to insist on taking up so much narrative space I'm going to insist on attempting to sort him out. I don't dislike Chris because he was a giant cockblocking robot built in a secret fucking government lab. I don't like Chris because I don't understand Chris, and he just doesn't seem to fit. Now admittedly sometimes I don't think Chris fits because Rob Lowe doesn't fit the cast - he doesn't do press for the show, he doesn't show up at events with his co-stars, etc. But Chris also doesn't fit on a show built on earnestness. This show is about a group of characters who can't help but let their true selves shine through regardless of how tough their outer walls are, but I've never felt like the show has truly peeled back the veneer on Chris. He seems more interested in keeping up appearances than actually taking a stand (the best example of this for me is in "The Bubble", when he has to keep up the perception that he hasn't given up on his stupid office re-tooling while compromising with Ron. And of course all the good cop/bad cop stuff he pulled back when he first arrived with Ben). Now, the fact that Chris is about flash rather than substance, in complete opposition to almost everyone else in the cast, helps make him a good foil and even antagonist. But I don't think the show really wants him to be a complete villain. So they introduce some sympathetic moments, which end up making Chris a mess of contradictions. He's shown being perceptive (like with April in "Indianapolis" and Leslie in "Born and Raised"), and also completely oblivious (everything to do with Jerry's daughter and his relationship with Ann). He portrays himself as a people person who loves telling everyone that he loves them, but then he does things like completely ignore the obvious pain of his friends upon the collapse of their close working partnership. What I'm left with is a character who seems entirely insincere, and I'm not sure that was the writers' intent. It doesn't help that Chris has been more cartoonish than human this season, and that Rob Lowe always comes across as a smug tool.

Then we have this episode, in which a lot of people seemed to find Chris more likable. One thing people seemed to take issue with how hard he went after Leslie. I think his zeal during the trial had a lot to do with Chris feeling personally betrayed. If you look at him throughout the proceedings he's going off the rails (the amount of crap on his table seems to grow exponetially). Again, here's a guy who thinks of himself as perceptive and a people person, who cherishes the appearance of order, and two of his his most respected colleagues went behind his back and broke a very important rule. It's kind of shitty that he channeled some of his personal hurt into his behaviour during the trial, but it's at least consistent with what we've seen of him before. It's also important to note that Chris wasn't wrong during the trial. He was just doing his job, and I think he had that maintenance guy lined up as a witness from the beginning, which would account for his frustration at Leslie's insistence she and Ben didn't do anything wrong. What I actually take issue with is Chris at the end of the episode, which is the more "likable" Chris. I really want to believe that he cares about Ben and Leslie (especially Ben, because god do I want to know more about those twelve years on the road together). But. I have trouble buying Chris as genuine. I want this to be the real Chris. I want the real Chris to be the guy with the blood disorder as a baby who fears his own mortality. The guy who really does care. But that guy only deigns to show up some of the time.

I also hated his worthy line. It's gross, and not the cute gross like Ben and Leslie's faces smushed together. I just don't like relationships framed in terms of worthiness or one partner "deserving" the other.

"Because I love Leslie. I want to be with her and I don't want to hide the way about I feel about her anymore. So yeah it was worth it because I'm in love with Leslie Knope."

So I'm going to go against the grain and say that I didn't think Ben's resignation was a grand romantic gesture. It was refreshing to see a man sacrifice his career for the sake of a relationship, because let's be real statistics are statistics, but this narrative choice worked more because it suited the characters than because of progressive gender politics or romantic ideals. Leslie made her big move last week by being willing to put everything on the line, which is what allowed Ben to make his big move this week. He knows how much Leslie's career means to her, and it certainly means more to her than Ben's does to him (more on that in a bit). Together "Smallest Park" and "The Trial of Leslie Knope" demonstrated that these are two people who aren't just in love, they're committed. It also just makes more sense for Ben to resign because of his position as supervisor.

I'm very interested to see where Ben's career goes from here. I'm spoiled for the next couple of episodes, so I do know what he ends up doing in the immediate future, but I think there is a lot of untapped potential for future career-oriented storylines. I never saw Ben as someone who was in love with his job as assistant city mananger. I think what he loved was the stability and the sense of home it provided, and the opportunity to work on things that mattered. His job at City Hall gave him a sense of being grounded and making a difference, which were things he probably hadn't felt since his teen mayor days. But that job was just a job, which I think made it easier for him to resign since he wouldn't be giving up the things he truly cared about. Ben's narrative arc has been so wonderfully constructed so far, and I'm excited to see where it goes next.

BUT ANYWAY FACE PARTS. SO MANY BEAUTIFUL FACE PARTS. What always gets me about this show is that this a comedy, and yet these two have phenomenal dramatic chops. HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE ALL OF THE AWARDS?

"Let the record state that I, Leslie Knope, love Ben Wyatt. I love him with all of my heart."

Let the record show that I loved the way the writers decided to execute the "I love yous". Having their declarations be read via transcript was perfectly nerdy, and also undercut some of the sweetness that is inherent in first "I love yous" on television shows. I also love that they included "all of my heart" in Leslie's statement. That's a big deal coming from someone who's heart is so full, and it really speaks to the depth of her feelings. And then there is their terrible faces. You didn't even need to hear them say the words. They are literally just standing there staring at each other silently for a couple of minutes and yet those looks are so full of feeling. I have never seen two people so mutually smitten. I don't know if it's just me being a loon, but the staging of the scene - with two people staring at each other lovingly while someone else reads out loud - reminded me of... something. Something matrimonial. Shipper goggles. Shut up. And to top it all off her hat is adorable and it looks like they are standing in a snow globe. BEST. The last two episodes have really been a gift in terms of the staging for these ~romantic moments~.

[livejournal.com profile] hauntes)

And oh god the tag. THE TAG! Remember last week when Jerry's I.D. badge said his name was Garry? REMEMBER THAT. Combined with the appearances of Ethel and the maintenance guy this episode certainly had impressive continuity.
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October 2012

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