Episode Title: "Freddy Spaghetti"
Writer: Daniel J. Goor
Director: Jason Woliner
Previously on "Parks and Recreation":
Two state auditors, Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) came to Pawnee to oversee massive budget cuts to all programs, including Parks and Recreation. Leslie (Amy Poehler) was horrified by the prospect of 40% to 50% cuts, but Ron (Nick Offerman) seemed overjoyed.
At April's 21st birthday party, she flirted with Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) to make Andy (Chris Pratt) jealous, after she saw him talking with Ann (Rashida Jones) at the bar. Meanwhile, Leslie got ridiculously drunk and took out her frustration on Ben. After striking out with women all night, Tom (Aziz Ansari) finally found interest from the bartender, Lucy (Natalie Morales).
Following the party, Leslie apologized to Ben and the two bonded over beer. However, the state budget crisis turned out to be bigger than originally believed, forcing the entire city government to be shut down immediately.
Following the government shutdown, Leslie reluctantly tells a room full of parents that the upcoming Freddy Spaghetti children's concert has been canceled. She then resolves to find a way to make it happen and recruits nearly all of her co-workers to prepare for the show.
Meanwhile, Ron embraces the idea of spending cuts more enthusiastically than even the state auditors. But when they suggest laying off Leslie, he leaps to her defense and offers to be laid off in her place. He also inadvertently tips off Chris and Ben about the unauthorized concert, which further jeopardizes the event. However, Leslie refuses to back down, even when Freddy Spaghetti (Brian McCann) cancels his appearance to perform at a library.
Andy is struck by a car when attempting to fetch his instruments as a musical replacement for Spaghetti. He later inadvertently sabotages his relationship with April (Aubrey Plaza), by admitting that he kissed Ann (Rashida Jones) earlier that day.
Back at the concert, disaster is averted when Freddy Spaghetti shows up after all, thanks to Ben. Later Tom is packing up his desk with Lucy, when he sees that Ron is now apparently dating Tom's ex-wife, Wendy (Jama Williamson).
If we didn't get it from last week's episode, we know now: Rob Lowe's Chris is definitely nuts.
Lowe gave one of the stand-out performances of the night as the fitness-obsessed Chris, who runs 10 miles at lunch and interrupts budget meetings to start "massage trains." He's been in so many serious roles that it's jarring to see him break out of that mold. His character also seems skilled at throwing all of the hard decisions at his colleague Ben, rather than risk anyone not liking him. His interest in Ann may also be worth exploring in season three, as she's clearly both attracted and horrified by him.
Ron's overzealous response to the budget cuts was another keeper. His gunshot ringtone was also highly amusing. It was also interesting to see him argue so passionately about keeping Leslie's job, even at the expense of his own. Prior to that, it wasn't clear that he actually cared about her.
As a fan of "The Middleman," it was also great to see Natalie Morales sticking around as Lucy, even if she didn't have much to do in the episode. Though she did seem impressed by "The Swanson" — a giant turkey leg wrapped in bacon that Ron seemed to enjoy a little too much.
The writing on this show was very sharp, with a lot of memorable lines. Particularly Andy's assertion that "the show must go wrong'" or his doctor's off-hand remark about "advancing medical science 30 years."
Chris Pratt's Andy seems to be heading towards a romance with April, but he's much better off on his own as the man who never hears an idea he doesn't like. His glee as he rewrites his "Sex-hair" song into the more kid-friendly "Pickle-hair" is infectious. He may not be ready to take center stage on the series, but he's on his way up.
However, this is Amy Poehler's show and her character is still the heart of the series. She carries the story and has most of the best jokes. Her reconciliation with Mark at the end of the episode also helped set the stage for season three, as did her moment of victory against Ben, when he couldn't dismiss her as being "non-essential."
This episode was hilarious and it may even be one of the best of the entire series. It was one of those rare shows where nearly every joke worked to perfection.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10