We typically review “Parks and Recreation” episodes a couple of days after they air, and sometimes, that really works to our advantage when it comes to perspective. It allows us to process the comedy, and see if there is actually a beat or a joke that sticks in our brain a little bit longer.
There were once again two episodes that aired this week, but the second (and the fourth of the season) entitled “Leslie & Ron” is what we want to devote our time to. Why? This may be our favorite episode of the entire series, and also one of our top ten favorite episodes of any comedy ever. This had almost everything you could possibly hope for, from great laughs (the fake landmine that was a stash for Leslie’s party balloons, a playing of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” that we like to think of as an Easter egg from “The Office”) to stellar writing from executive producer Michael Schur (who personally wrote this one) to great heart and tremendous performances.
Nick Offerman tore up our heart and spit it out in this episode. The premise was simple: to stop the long-brewing feud between Leslie and Ron, Ben helped to lock the two in their old workplace overnight. From here, the characters eventually unraveled, and we learned the truth about why they stopped being friends. It stemmed in part from loneliness (something Ron never wanted to admit to feeling) after seeing so many old friends leave, and then Leslie blowing him off for lunch at the drop of a hat. His own emotional disconnected, coupled with her at-times blind ambitious, led to the divide, and since neither was willing to admit their faults.
Somehow, the beauty of Offerman and Amy Poehler’s performances in here made us almost forget about Ron wearing Craig’s yoga costume, and some of the other silliness of the moment. Watching their reunion was genuinely moving almost on a tear-jerking level, and it probably got to us the most when we realized that Ron wanted to have lunch with Leslie so that he could ask for a job. He was willing to work for the federal government, his own worst enemy, just to be near people who were more than “acquaintances” to him … if he would ever admit it.
We all know that Poehler has been snubbed for Emmy win after Emmy win. Somehow, Offerman’s situation is almost a travesty. He has one a single TCA Award for playing Ron, a tie with Ty Burrell a few years back. He has never been nominated for either a Golden Globe or an Emmy. This was an award-winning performance by him tonight, worthy of forgoing the nomination phase altogether. Yes, we fear that come the summer, a man responsible for playing one of the most iconic TV characters in decades could end this show without any Emmy love. Offerman doesn’t strike us as someone begging for awards, but sometimes, those around you root for you even more than you root for yourself. This is something we want for him, especially if his work continues in the way it did in this episode.
In the end, we are pleased to hand out our first one of these grades of the year for this magical, magical episode. Yep, it’s so magical we used the word twice. Grade: A+.
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