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‘Parks and Recreation’ Review: “Partridge”

Parks and Recreation Partridge
NBC

Parks and Recreation‘ is back with a brand new episode in which Ron faces a lawsuit from the awful Councilman Jamm and Leslie and Ben take a trip to Ben’s hometown of Partridge, Minnesota.

Leslie doesn’t always win her fights — yes, we’ve watched as she surmounts odds with the help of her friends and she’s usually victorious in overcoming her adversaries, whether they be people, fellow government employees, or ideas. Some may find it repetitive, but the joy of the show is watching how Leslie overcomes the odds and taking delight in why she’s doing it. She’s just a good person. And she proves that even further in “Partridge,” when she accompanies Ben back to his hometown where he’ll be receiving the key to the city from the mayor (guest star JK Simmons). The key is meant to serve as a symbol of peace, after Ben bankrupted the town with his horrible “Ice Town” concept 20 years ago. But then Ben winds up with kidney stones and Leslie has to accept the key in his place, only to find out the entire thing is a ruse to make fun of Ben for his past folly.

Rather than pit Leslie against something in her own town or in the realm of her career, she’s pitted against another town’s government in a much smaller sense, and we get to see how Leslie the councilwoman is not much different from Leslie the human being, wife, and friend. That’s part of what’s so great about her character — she’s just a really damn good person to have around, and the kind of person you want in your corner. Also, how amazing is it watching Ben on morphine? That Ben is totally my new spirit animal.

Back at home, Ronald Ulysses Swanson (thank you, TV) is served with a lawsuit courtesy of councilman Jamm, who is seeking damages after Ron punched him in the face at Ben and Leslie’s wedding. Ron brings April, Andy, and Tom in to help serve as witnesses, but it doesn’t quite pan out — Andy tells the truth to his detriment, while April and Tom lie to make Ron look better. When they try to tell the truth, it doesn’t help much either, so to make up for it, they uncover Jamm’s perjury and threaten to reveal it unless he drops the suit. Leslie’s attitude and ethics are infectious, and these three people wouldn’t have acted this way five years ago when we first met them. Even when Leslie’s away, these guys are still under her good influence. And lately it’s becoming increasingly apparently how positive and optimistic this show is, which is why I think it’s had such impeccable staying power.

Ann and Chris are still trying to figure out this whole baby business, and their first stop is sussing out whether or not they’re compatible as parents. The traditional tests all say no, but the most important — and most basic — one is a simple question: will they love and care for this child and try to serve its best interests? Of course. Theirs is perhaps the most empty plot this week, but a cute one nonetheless and a sign of even cuter things to come.

It’s great to see that the show has finally figured out a path for Ann that only involves a man in the most basic way, rather than constantly trying to pair her up with other single characters, where she often becomes a non-character. I think the writers have shown this season that they finally understand that by having Ann herself acknowledge that every time she’s with a guy, she takes on his traits, and by having Ann do something for herself for a change, the writers are challenged to really write for her and not for a someone who’s merely an echo of the people she’s around.

“Partridge” is a great episode to return from a brief hiatus with, and it’s filled with such pleasantry and heart-warming goodness that it just kind of makes you feel like you’ve been dosed with some of Ben’s morphine. Let’s go hug some stuff.

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