Parks and Recreation Episode 3.03 Review

Have you ever wanted something so badly you wanted to fight for your beliefs? Maybe you live in Egypt and want to free your country from a brutal dictator. Maybe you’re in your home and just like your cat. Maybe you stayed up all night writing the history of your town. Or maybe you really, really, REALLY like Twilight.

I for one, have managed to avoid physically reading/watching that series at all costs. Damn you, Will Forte! Perhaps the selection of the vampire romance novel of the century was accurate in an episode all about passion. In the main plot tonight, the Parks Department is setting up a Time Capsule of everything quintessentially Pawnee. Each department member picks an item to put in the old iron drum, from Jerry’s mom’s diary to Ron’s menu of the best breakfast item ever to a hilarious turn where Leslie puts in The History of Pawnee. The thing is, she wrote it all herself, and included a special section of the town’s key slogans over its history, with a revelation that Pawnee has awfully xenophobic, knee-jerk mayors.

Just as Wendy, doing her duty as a reporter, is writing up a story on the capsule, in comes Pawnee’s craziest citizen, a designation that means a lot given the peek at its fine denizens in episode’s past. Will Forte shows up as a fourty-something die-hard Twilight fan named Kelly determined to get his favorite book encapsulated in the time capsule. (To which Leslie responds: “I thought you’d be younger. And a girl.”) This guy is hardcore: he knows all the biographical points of Stephanie Meyer’s life, and can break down all the movies shot for shot. When she absolutely refuses to put a copy of Twilight and New Moon in the time capsule, Kelly handcuffs himself to a pipe in Leslie’s office and the real story breaks.

Try as she might to expel the Twi-hard from the premises, Kelly camps out and spreads his vampire evangelism across the office. Tom, sadly reeling from a break-up with awesome girlfriend Lucy, finds solace in the books, and soon has something to talk about with Kelly and Donna, and the group forms the world’s most passionate book club discussion. With more and more people on crazy Will Forte’s side, Leslie tries to find what makes him tick, but not before repeatedly refusing to read the books. It turns out the series belongs to Kelly’s daughter, and Kelly thinks if he can manage to put the books in the capsule, that he would be seen as a hero.

Suddenly, a one-note plot turns into a heartfelt crystallization of what Pawnee stands for. It’s not about what goes in the time capsule, it’s about what surrounds it. It takes an afternoon of chaos to make Leslie, who has up until now been all about media exposure, aware of this fact. A town hall is convened to decide what to put in the capsule, but as with all town halls chaired by Leslie Knope, it quickly goes downhill. There’s an argument for and against the Christian overtones of Twilight, debates over various jars of pet ashes, and whose favorite book goes in. Soon enough, there are seven time capsules categorized by item classification and fifteen angry protestors. There’s even an appearance by the anti-gay-penguin lady from last season’s premiere. (Yay, continuity jokes!)

The whole scene afterwards where Leslie has an idea for what to put in the time capsule– a video of the town hall debate– is a nice defense of Pawnee as a population. It’s not just a setting for the show, but a “real” town filled with a diverse, possibly obese faction of people who really care about their community. It’s a nice reminder of the real strength of this show: being able to build out from the government offices.

Elsewhere, passion is exuded by the continuing love sagas of Ann/Chris and Andy/April. Chris and Andy bond over the course of the episode. Ceding the “Ann” card to Chris, Andy instead turns to He of the Chiseled Microchip Abs for relationship advice on how to win April’s heart away from her Venezuelan squeeze. When asked to name a list of qualities about himself, Andy comes up with… “Nice” and “Band”. Not exactly a winning combination but enough to get him to woo Eduardo away with Mouse Rat CDs. The two have a few jam sessions before causing a rift in he and April’s relationship. The stage is set for our buds to finally bond!

Whether standing up for a cause or pursuing your dream, we all need to strive for something. And if we can’t express our passions, then we might as well await the Great Zorp as we eat our Four Horse Meals Of The Egg-pocalypse.


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