Parks and Recreation had its best episode since its season six premiere last night. “Gin It Up” featured three solid storylines for our favorite characters, positioning Donna as a strong candidate for Leslie’s new best friend once Ann leaves, forcing Ron Swanson to again reevaluate his life post-marriage, and featuring Orphan Black‘s extremely talented Tatiana Maslany in a charming performance as a doctor that Tom does everything in his power to pursue. Overall, last night’s Parks and Recreation found that perfect blend of comedy and character that I believe has been missing for much of this season so far.
Let’s start with Leslie and Donna, because this storyline not only worked extremely well during last night’s episode but will also have the biggest effect on Parks and Recreation moving forward. The main plot of “Gin It Up” finds Leslie dealing with Councilman Jamm and Councilman Dexhart, as they try to use an inappropriate tweet that Donna accidentally published on the Parks’ department’s Twitter account to further their campaign to recall Leslie.
While this yields some great comedy (specifically Jamm spelling out all his underhandedness and Dexhart commenting that he’s a “big fan” of Donna’s tweeting and that it’s “really good stuff”), ultimately, the most important part of this storyline is that we finally get a real sense of the friendship between Donna and Leslie. Donna’s a very laid-back person, whose work comes second to her social life, while Leslie’s passion and determination for her job can come off as annoying to many. Having their two different personalities clash in last night’s Parks and Recreation (with some of Donna’s tweets saying how annoying Leslie is while others describe how much Donna admires her) illustrates the foundation of the pair’s relationship. Even though they may not have much in common, viewers can see that the respect and compassion that the two share for each other is what makes Leslie and Donna click as friends and what separates their relationship from the friendship between Ann and Leslie.
Along with the new bond forged between Donna and Leslie, last night’s Parks and Recreation also saw Tom trying to start a relationship with Tatiana Maslany’s gorgeous doctor, Nadia. Nadia shows up at the Parks’ department to rent out a park for the day so that Doctors Without Borders can help administer vaccinations to the citizens of Pawnee. From the moment he meets Nadia, Tom attempts to find any way that he can to impress her (including using a fake British accent and breaking out DJ Roomba!) so that he can ask her out on a date.
Eventually, Nadia gets fed up with Tom’s crazy behavior and leaves; however, April comes to Tom’s rescue when she and Tom visit Nadia at the hospital and tells Nadia that every wacky antic of Tom’s was because he wanted to date her, which Nadia finds both insane but also romantic, thus deciding to go out with Tom. The main reasons that the over-the-top sitcom antics work here are because of Maslany’s straight-faced performance and April’s commentary on how ridiculous Tom is behaving. Both women acknowledge how absurd Tom’s actions are but also point out that they are coming from a very reasonable (well, reasonable for Tom, anyway) place. I can’t wait to see more of Maslany’s Nadia and how her relationship with Tom develops during her next appearance on Parks and Recreation.
– I didn’t talk about Ron and Ben’s storyline in the main part of my review but that’s not because I didn’t like it. While I think Parks and Recreation needs to balance how selfish versus selfless they can make Ron now that he has a family, I really enjoyed his and Ben’s discussion about his will last night (how Ron doesn’t want to spoil his children) and their interactions with lawyer Trevor Nelsson. It was by far the funniest part of the episode, and the one that produced the most quotes.
– Full disclosure: my love for Tatiana Maslany knows no bounds.
– It’s very telling that Rashida Jones was not in this episode as Ann when so much of the episode was dedicated to establishing the Donna/Leslie friendship.
– Of course Pawnee would call Donna’s Twitter mistake “Twitter Watergate”–until they can think of a catchier name.
– “I’ve had the same will since I was 8 years old.” “What are these weird symbols?” “The man who kills me will know.”
– Ron to Ben: “Everything is a weapon. That folder in my hands is far deadly than this bow in yours.” Ben’s response: “Oh…that’s probably true.”
– “Wait, what are all these symbols?” “I was right not be threatened by you.”
What did everyone else think of last night’s episode of Parks and Recreation?