As I’ve said a couple times, my Friday reviews of a show I’m marathoning won’t be starting for a few weeks, mainly due to marathoning fatigue, school (because, if my week-long absence wasn’t a hint, my homework is distracting me from writing about TV. Ugh), and the fact that I’m currently working on finishing Breaking Bad (but I know I’m nowhere near good enough to review that perfection).
But I’ve missed blogging this week, and Thursday night’s episode of Parks and Recreation seemed like a perfect way to get back into the swing of things. And keep in mind – massive spoilers are ahead. Seriously, don’t read this if you haven’t watched yet.
It was Parks’ annual Halloween episode, and naturally, the day didn’t go wonderfully for most of our beloved government employees. Let’s work our way through the various storylines, saving the best for last.
Ron’s new girlfriend wanted him to come trick-or-treating with her daughters, much to Andy’s delight. The two men joined the three girls (all dressed as princesses, naturally) and as always, Ron felt a little uncomfortable around Zoe and Ivy. When a school emergency required Diane to leave, Ron and Andy were put in charge of the girls. But Ron’s attempt at conflict resolution ruins the girls’ Halloween, and Diane soon breaks up with him because of his reluctance to get to know her kids.
I’ve really been enjoying this storyline, because it’s such a different side of Ron Swanson. We’ve seen his ex-wives, and have gotten very used to that gross sexuality that comes out whenever he’s around one of the Tammys. We all know how much Ron likes strong women, but for the first time, he’s in a relationship that isn’t built around the thrill of a power struggle. Diane doesn’t really need Ron – she, Ivy, and Zoe are their own family, and they’re not looking for a space to be filled. Ron needs to fit into them, not the other way around, but she’s not asking him to sacrifice anything to make that happen. Unlike the Tammys, Diane isn’t looking to humiliate him or use him as a toy; she wants something real from him, and I think that terrifies Ron more than the Tammys ever could. But the end of the episode, when he apologized and gave the girls a second Halloween, showed that he’s not running from that anymore. I can’t wait to see where this storyline goes, and to see Ron having to accept the fact that, if he wants a future with this woman, he needs to figure out how to become a father figure (which we know isn’t an impossible task, given the times he’s counseled Tom and Andy).
At the Halloween viewing of Death Canoe 4: Murder at Blood Lake (which, in a beautiful storyline inspired by actress Retta’s fondness for live-tweeting TV shows, Donna is commenting along from her phone as she watches the movie), Leslie and Ann decide to scare Jerry. They jump out at him as he exits the bathroom, and the shock gives him a heart attack (and a fart attack). Feeling guilty, the two women organize a tag sale to help pay Jerry’s hospital bills. Ann sells all the objects she accrued in her various boyfriend-induced phases, while Tom sells some of his clothes, coming up with an idea to rent outfits out to teenagers. Its name? Rent-a-Swag, of course.
In D.C., Ben’s campaign has come to an end. He sends April back to Pawnee, and he’s preparing to wrap up in Washington when Jen Barkley tells him she wants his help on another campaign, this time in Florida. But he and Leslie had been planning on moving in together, and just when she finds a house that she loves, he calls her to tell her that he’s considering taking this new job. But he tells her that, while he’s considering it, he’s not making any decisions until they can discuss it and decide together (because Ben and Leslie are the definition of a mature, adult relationship).
Jen and Jerry separately talk to Ben and Leslie about their futures, and the idea of doing what you want. As Jerry notes, making plans doesn’t mean anything – you never know what could go wrong. The important thing is having your loved ones by your side and figuring things out as you go. Jen’s advice is slightly different, but Ben gets the same message: do what’s important.
And now to the part of the episode that had me screaming. Leslie returns to the house she and Ben leased, wanting to look at it one more time before backing out of the deal. Her realtor gives her a moment alone, and when Leslie turns around, Ben is there…and immediately gets down on one knee. And now for the greatest proposal of all-time (sorry, Chandler and Monica. Jim and Pam, you’re on thin ice):
Leslie: Oh my God, what are you doing?
Ben: Thinking about my future. I am deeply, ridiculously in love with you, and above everything else, I wanna be with you forever.
Before he can actually ask the question, Leslie stops him, saying she needs a minute to absorb just how wonderful her life is right at that moment. Then, with Leslie crying and Ben teary-eyed, he finally started to ask…but, because she’s Leslie Knope, she blurts out “yes” before he even finishes the question.
I think it goes without saying that I keyboard smashed for quite a while after the episode ended. Just. COME ON. This right here is why I love this show and this ship: they’re not dragging it out. Ben and Leslie aren’t a will-they, won’t-they couple. They got together, broke up once for a completely legitimate reason, and got back together because they couldn’t stand it anymore. They didn’t get engaged in a season finale or in a Very Special Episode – they got engaged in the fifth episode of the season, in what was more or less a regular episode of Parks. And you know what? It was absolutely perfect.
What did you think of this episode? Are you all as excited about Ben/Leslie as I am? And who else is freaking out for Jonathan Banks next week?!