“I am not a sore loser. It’s just that I prefer to win and when I don’t, I get furious.”
More wise words from Ron Swanson.
After a brief hiatus, Parks and Recreation returns to television with Leslie Knope making a grand stand, as well as some fun at a roller rink with the rest of the cast.
The episode begins with April waiting for Andy to pick up for their Skype call, but before much can happen, she hears the sound of Andy’s guitar. Wouldn’t you know it? Andy has returned to Pawnee. Oh, and he delivers a swift kick to April’s computer, saying she won’t need that anymore. Guess not.
At a Pawnee City Council meeting, Councilman Jamm has proposed a bill that would allow anyone in Pawnee to vote in any election- such as the upcoming recall- so long as they have an official Pawnee address. Leslie sees this as a clear attempt to disenfranchise all of the new Eagleton residents who have been merged into Pawnee, but when the matter is tabled, she sets her sight on the main event of the night: Ben’s early 90s roller skating birthday party. Why? Because Ben has a thing for women in roller skates.
We then cut to said party where Tom, dressed as Kris Kross, and Nadia, bond for awhile before Tom is reminded that Nadia will be going away to Rwanda to work with Doctors Without Borders. Rwanda, a place that Tom knows is full of rich guys that will want to buy her stuff. So Nadia suggests that Tom win her a giant stuffed bear as a going away present. The same bear that Ann later purchased for $50 after realizing it’s similar to a bear she used to have when she would practice making out.
Donna, meanwhile, entertains herself through playing Big Buck HD. Ron walks by and tries his luck, only for him to suck at it. Maybe the gun was too light, maybe he’s too close to the deer and maybe there’s no sight. Regardless, real life does not equate to actual hunting.
Back at the council bounding, Chris alerts Leslie and Ben to an emergency meeting that Jamm has called in order to pass his bill. However, Leslie will not stand for that. Well yes, she will, and she refuses to yield the floor so she may speak as much time as she may consume. Which is until 11 p.m. On roller skates. For Ben, it’s very sexy.
For Leslie, though, it’s a battle of wills and challenges, as she cannot leave the floor, sit down or get outside help from the crowd. Three strikes and she’s out. One strike she blows when she sits down to remove her roller skates. No matter, she regales the crowd with stories of her very first vote, or what Pawnee’s first mayor said about voting- and killing Indians.
Andy and April catch up, though Andy does not dish many details on his time in London. When it’s time for him to go, he gets cold feet and jumps into a dumpster, leading him and April to sit down and discuss the real problem: he’s afraid. He doesn’t want to return because the job is both scary and confusing to him. But April, in one of the show’s very tender moments, tells Andy that no one knows what they’re doing. People are just faking it at their jobs until they figure it out and Andy will, too.
Leslie’s filibuster gains some traction when the folks of Eagleton come in to support her. However, it turns out while they like Leslie’s efforts, they plan to have someone from Eagleton run for Council so their views are represented. Leslie does ultimately triumph when 11 p.m. arrives and she has not blown her last strike. However, her celebration includes a quick run to the ladies’ room.
Meanwhile, Ron gives Donna a taste of actual hunting, telling her that there’s no substitute for the real thing. However, from the contemplative look on Ron’s face, it’s clear that he still wants to go back and play the game. He does and ends up placing in the top 10.
Leslie and Ben plan to go home and celebrate Ben’s birthday another way since the party has long ended, but Ingrid de Forest arrives to let them both know that she’s been selected as Eagleton’s candidate to run against her.
“Filibuster” is a fun return for the series. I hesitate to say whether I’m a fan of the main storyline because, while important, I found that the other moments involving the characters at the roller rink were more interesting.
From the beginning of the filibuster, we knew how this would play out. Wendy Davis’ filibuster is still fresh in people’s mind and while I’m perfectly fine with “Parks and Recreation” taking real life political events and integrating them into the show, my issue is that we’ve already seen this scenario play out this year in April when Patton Oswalt made a guest appearance in “Article Two.” So while I understand the writers wanting to use Davis’ filibuster as the influence for this episode, I couldn’t help but feel we were treading through familiar territory. Though, in hindsight, it’s interesting to think about how Patton Oswalt’s filibuster was about Star Wars, and when Ted Cruz had his quasi-filibuster, he said “Mike Lee, I am your father.” But I digress.
The filibuster does go to show Leslie’s commitment not just to her position, but to the citizens of Pawnee, even when it turns out that she doesn’t have their votes. To her, it’s a matter of principle and every citizen should have the right to vote. Like the real life arguments on voter identification and gun control, the arguments here never make a lot of sense on either side.
Jamm trying to trip Leslie up had its moments: for example, do other City Councils have gongs at their meeting? If not, they should. And it was funny seeing him tempt Leslie with a frozen margarita. He’s a despicable character, yes, but he’s so fun to watch.
Andy and April’s subplot was as charming as we’ve seen. Her smile and exuberance upon seeing Andy stroll back into Pawnee was a sign that these two do make a great couple. Their dynamic is warm and you can tell that they’re glad to be back together. We’ve seen glimpses of Andy’s potential before when Ben wanted to bring him on board to help with his charity. Before, Andy has been someone who wanted the simple life of making music and being with April. Now that he’s moving onto something bigger and better, he is, naturally, scared, but April is more down to earth and is able to talk him out of his fears. Also, I couldn’t help but smile at the idea of April making Andy baloney sandwiches by using cookies as bread. Andy’s return, brief as it was, felt welcome and I look forward to seeing what he’s up to in London.
Equally fun to watch this week were Ron and Donna, especially now that Ron appears to be less wound up about privacy. Donna’s level-headedness about video games versus Ron’s real life approach to, well, everything, would make it seem like these two would clash, yet they share some laughs when Ron takes Donna out for real life hunting. Also, maybe I’ve watched too much television, but did anyone see it coming that Ron would type “ASS” in as his initials when he refused to type his own?
Tom seems to click more with Nadia than any of his previous girlfriends and I like his efforts to prove his worth to her, even if that does end up involving the two of them taking Ann’s bear and returning eight out of her fifty dollars. From the conversation Nadia has with Ann, it’s clear that she does care for him and Tom does show a softer side. Also, apparently there are a lot of professional Indian skee-ball players out there. Who knew?
Ben and Chris are mostly here for moral support, though I did get a kick out of Chris trying to revoke his hug from an Eagleton resident after they learn that they don’t intend to vote for Leslie. Also, Ben’s thing for women on roller skates was a nice insight into someone who’s mostly been the straight man. It was an odd, quirky detail that made me like him as a character a little more, strange as that sounds.
Overall, “Filibuster” was a solid episode and return for the series. While the main plot was a bit familiar, both it and the roller rink subplots provided some good laughs and left us on a cliffhanger. It’s great to have the show back and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.