‘Parks and Recreation’ Review: “Gin it Up!”
‘Orphan Black‘ star Tatiana Maslany guest stars as Tom’s awesome love interest on an all-new episode of ‘Parks and Recreation.’ In “Gin it Up!”, Donna’s tweet gets Leslie in even hotter water with her constituents and colleagues when she’s already trying to avoid their ongoing attempts at a recall.
Let’s be honest about something up front: Leslie can be annoying. Sure, we admire her pluck and determination, and her seemingly superhuman drive to do the right thing for a city full of ungrateful people. But the truth of the matter is that if any of us worked for Leslie on a daily basis, we’d likely get annoyed with her. People who are that determined and that relentless can be a handful, and I’ve often thought while watching this season that Leslie is a bit much — her attitude is good for getting things done, even when it pisses off the people of Pawnee (what do they know?), but it can be annoying for her colleagues. Which brings us to Leslie’s big conflict tonight: Donna accidentally tweets a sexy personal message (with photo!) from the Pawnee Parks & Rec Twitter account, which gives Councilman Jamm and his buddies more fuel for the recall fire. Jamm and the other councilmen are fully aware and even cop to the fact that they’re actively trying to get Leslie recalled in an absurd show of bureaucratic BS.
Bureaucracy is all over the episode tonight, in fact, and we see the ways it works for and against people, and how others, like Ron, resist it. Ron’s only will and testament is a piece of paper bequeathing his worldly possessions and money to whichever animal or man succeeds in killing him. (The stuff with the symbols will be making me laugh for days.) Enter Ben, who takes him to Trevor the humorless lawyer to draw up an official will — as it turns out, Ron is totally loaded, but ever the libertarian, doesn’t want to leave money to his kids, lest they turn into nightmare trust fund leeches. Ron’s resistance to the government is what convinces him to sign a real will, but it’s a talk with Ben that gets him to understand that not everything is so black and white — there can be a happy Ron-friendly medium. I’m really loving Ron’s arc this season as he learns to compromise his ideals — just a little — for the sake of his new family. We get to see Ron at his most extreme before he’s brought back down to earth by those who love him, giving us tons of big laughs followed by a heartwarming conclusion.
Tom decides to use bureaucracy to his advantage when Nadia (Tatiana Maslany), a doctor who wants to set up a free immunization event at a local park, stops by the office to get a permit. When his sad attempt at wooing her with a fake British accent fails, he tries to keep her around by making her sign piles of unnecessary paperwork. At first, April enjoys and even encourages the shenanigans before she finally steps in and tells Nadia what’s up. Sadly, Nadia won’t be around for long on the show (because Maslany has to film season 2 of ‘Orphan Black’ — yay!), but she’s a great love interest for Tom and I look forward to seeing these two play off of one another, even if their relationship is short-lived.
But back to bureaucracy at its worst — through Jamm’s self-admitted “witch hunt” hearing over Donna’s tweet, Leslie finds out that Donna has been venting about her on Twitter with the hashtag “bitch boss.” It’s a hard pill for Leslie to swallow because she views her behavior and attitude as heroic and inspiring, but the truth is that sometimes those positive endeavors can veer off and become a little self-righteous. Donna is entitled to vent, of course, and it doesn’t mean that she hates Leslie or doesn’t support her friend. And then Chris finds some other tweets not mentioned in the hearing, in which Donna refers to Leslie as “#bossbitch,” praising her for her inspiring work. Chris explaining the difference between Bitch Boss and Boss Bitch is an instant classic.
“Gin it Up!” is a great episode with a nice little thematic throughline about bureaucracy and what it is in a small town like Pawnee. For Leslie, it’s something that could take her job away for arbitrary, crappy reasons. For Tom, it’s a way to get what he wants in his personal life — a trick to win over a lady. And for Ron, it’s an evil that will take away his money, but inevitably forces him to reexamine his values. So bureaucracy can unexpectedly be a good thing? Maybe.