Episode Title: "Meet 'n' Greet"
Writer: Katie Dippold
Director: Wendey Stanzler
I hate Tom Haverford.
Nothing against Aziz Ansari, who portrays Tom. The character occasionally has his moments, but most of the time he's just an incredibly huge douche with an ego five times the size of Pawnee. If the entire Entertainment 720 storyline was just a way to write Tom off of the series, I would have been okay with that.
And this week, it all came to a head as Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) recruited Tom and his company to put on an event for her that would allow her to interact with the small business owners of Pawnee. You know, the titans of industry like Martin Kerston of Kerston Rubber Nipples, and the guys behind Jeff’s Savings and Loan as well as Enormous Kenny's Fried Dough Stand.
The event could have been a success, had Tom not plastered his face everywhere and rebranded the event as an Entertainment 720 showcase. That's not to say that it wasn't funny. The highlight came when a promotional video featured Tom with his voice disguised and his features blacked out as he tried to hint that the founder of Facebook was an Entertainment 720 client. By the time Tom brought out the Entertainment 720 divas the evening was a fail of the highest order.
I can't say I wasn't rooting for Leslie to drown Tom in the limo hot tub afterwards. But then this show would really change if Leslie was sent to a women's prison and slowly took over the place before getting paroled. So she doesn't kill Tom and he explains that Entertainment 720 is finally dead in the water... flat broke and entering chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is what you might say is "not a surprise." The shock is that Tom and his doofus partner, Jean-Ralphio aren't going to prison for printing their own money to pay for their bills. But I guess if you take money with Tom's face on it than you deserve what you get.
Tom's epic fall gave him one of his few human moments in recent memory. If he acted like a regular person with more frequency, Tom's excesses would be a lot easier to take. I should mention that Tom was eventually a good friend to Ben (Adam Scott) in the last episode; which was another redeeming moment. And Tom wins Leslie back by going to the businessmen that he alienated and getting them to support her.
Leslie is even moved by the video bio Tom made for her and she remarks that Tom won't be down for long. I still don't like Tom as a character, but Leslie kind of makes me want to like him.
But this was actually the Halloween episode. I don't know why Leslie held her event so close to that holiday, but the rest of her friends and co-workers were over at April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy's (Chris Pratt) home for a Halloween party... which they neglected to mention to their roommate, Ben. The last episode really laid out the pain Ben has felt since he lost Leslie to her own ambitions. He really doesn't have any ties to Pawnee without her and I'm not sure that Tom was friendly with him for any reason other than pity.
Ben just can't fully express himself and rather than show his anger to April and Andy, he bottles it up inside just like his parents taught him and he passively aggressively comes in and out of their party while insisting that he isn't there to participate. Being the lovable goof that he is, Andy roleplays his costume (MMA fighter Chuck Liddell) and he drags Ben around in a headlock until he admits what's bothering him. Andy even does his confessional while Ben is practically in his lap!
Finally, Ben elbows Andy at his insistence and breaks his nose; which Andy laughs off in the hospital. Here's the thing about Andy. He's completely clueless about everything, but I believe that he's truly sincere when he calls Ben his "brother" in the hospital. And like any good family member, he listens to Ben's problems and then tries to bargain with him to correct them... say for $5,000 plus to get studio time for his band; which Ben flatly refuses. Come to think of it, does Ben really make so little money that he has to live with a married couple?
There were two other subplots brewing at the Halloween party. The first featured the slow boil of Chris (Rob Lowe) and his courtship of Millicent (Sarah Wright), the daughter of the put-upon Jerry (Jim O'Heir); who has mostly been pretty laid back about the whole affair. But it's one thing to know that your daughter is in an adult relationship and another to watch her making out with your boss. April actually gets one of the best sight gags of the night when she grabs Jerry's Mr. Potatohead costume and gives him the frowny face.
It's not that Chris is a bad guy... he really isn't. But Chris won't shut up about he plans to do to Millicent until finally even Jerry has had enough and asks him to stop saying those things. April gets the last laugh on Chris too by stealing his keys and throwing them away. I'm not sure why she did that actually, but I assume it's her way of Swansoning the people in her life.
Speaking of the master, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) sees that April and Andy live in a veritable death trap and he spends the entire party fixing various problems around their home. And Ron doesn't do this because he cares about them (although I believe that he does, particularly April). Instead Ron tells us that he loves fixing things and he seems to enjoy feeling of accomplishment. He shares this with Ann (Rashida Jones) because of her "little hands" and he even tolerates her more than usual when she gets into the spirit of what he's doing and enjoys it herself.
It's actually a very good bonding experience for them and it almost makes me wonder if the writers are testing the waters for a Ron and Ann relationship. It would actually solve the problem of how to keep Annmore involved in the show and give Ron an even larger role in the series. I can't see that relationship working out long term, but it could be a lot of fun watching them try... well, mostly April, I think. Ron and the word "try" don't seem to go together. I also loved the way that Tom curtly told off the Lowes employee. Sure, that may be considered dickish behavior on par with Tom... but Ron has more heart in his pinky than Tom ever had.
For such a large ensamble cast, "Parks and Recreation" seems to be adept at finding something for everyone to do. And there hasn't been a bad episode this season, which is always appreciated.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.