‘Parks and Recreation’ Review: “Article Two”
You guys probably saw the extended eight minute clip NBC released this week, where Patton Oswalt’s Garth goes into a filibuster, explaining his idea for the new ‘Star Wars’ movie. That filibuster scene is much shorter in the first of tonight’s two episodes, in which Leslie is forced to try and pass a bill to rid Pawnee of its outdated laws — see, in article two of Pawnee’s law, the forefathers made an error and wrote “Ted” instead of “tea,” so every year the people of Pawnee dump a guy named Ted into the pond at Ramsett Park. But there are other outdated laws (like confining women on their periods in bath tubs) that could technically still be utilized, so Leslie must compromise.
Enter Garth, who doesn’t want to lose the Ted-dumping, and engages in his lengthy filibuster before Leslie challenges him to live in a historical 19th century landmark home with her — the last person standing wins.
Similarly, April whines to Ron about having to endure Chris’ management training course, and when Ron tries to get her out of it, he gets suckered in as well. Chris and Ron butt heads over management styles and decide to enter a competition of their own: test their management styles on Jerry, the ultimate guinea pig — may the best man win. And meanwhile, Ann and Ben are struggling to keep up with Leslie’s insane holidays commemorating all of her important landmarks with people she loves, like Waffle Day, Breakfast Day, Daniel Day Lewis Day, and Calendar Day. Both Ann and Ben have bid on the same JJ’s Diner waffle iron, but decide to go halfsies on it in another bid: getting Leslie to relent on all these weird holidays.
As previously mentioned, “resistance is futile” seems to be the theme this week — Ann and Ben know they can’t get Leslie to give up the holidays and asking her to would be cruel, considering the warm and loving spirit behind her zealotry; Leslie can’t pick and choose which antiquated laws are acceptable and which ones aren’t, and she certainly can’t win over someone who dedicates his lonely existence to living in the past; and Chris and Ron pitting their bipolar management styles against one another is ridiculous because both styles have their ups and downs.
The key is compromise — there doesn’t always have to be a side that wins and a side that loses, and the best debates, be they personal or public, are solved with empathy and understanding (and sometimes recognizing the futility of what you’re trying to accomplish). Leslie realizes that Garth has no friends and no real “life” to speak of, so she offers him a job in the historical society, getting him to drop his protest. Ann and Ben compromise with Leslie, reducing their mass of holidays to Ann Week and Ben Week — one week each year where each of them can celebrate their milestones with Leslie. And Chris and Ron both realize that their management styles leave something to be desired when their Jerry experiment doesn’t quite work out, and April pulls one over on both of them, proving she doesn’t really need leadership training after all.
Another great thing about this episode is the timing: just yesterday, the senate failed to pass a gun control measure thanks to a filibuster, and the absurdity of that practice is skewered nicely in “Article Two.” But there’s also a great joke when Ben visits the pawn shop to procure the waffle iron and tells the shopkeeper he’s looking for a very specific item, at which point the shopkeeper busts out a box of guns, as if Ben could just help himself to them with little effort. Now obviously, this couldn’t have been predicted or planned by the show runners, but the way this episode shows how obnoxious and unproductive a filibuster is during government debate while also commenting on the ease of access we have to firearms was pretty damn clever.