‘Parks and Recreation’ Episode 4.12 Review: Growing ‘Paigns

Hey kids, welcome back* to Paul and Recreation! No no, not Ron Paul. (Calm down, Internet.) Paul Rudd, of course! In a welcome bit of stunt casting, the opening scenes establish Leslie’s opponent for city council, as Bobby Newport, the wealthy son of the Newports–they of the Sweetums fortune– who’s running because, well, why not? This role model of a Pawneean is through with being a schmuck and decides to take what should rightfully be his–with minimal effort. I love you, man.

*Well, almost. My campaign to recap had almost as rocky a start as Leslie’s campaign.

As the real-world political race heats up, it seems like Parks and Recreation will be continuing their headline ripping for the rest of this season. After last week hiring a dependent Ben as her campaign manager, Leslie decides to fight her low low poll numbers with fire– or maybe just a space heater.

Leslie wants this campaign to fulfill her childhood dreams, but refuses to go negative. However, Ben, sensing an opportunity to air an ad during the Pawnee basketball halftime, wants to go negative: attacking Bobby Newport (Booooby Newpooort) for trying as hard as Rick Perry to win his seat. After an ad battle between the two teams, it’s apparent to everyone but Leslie that the attack ad is far better.

(Though, let’s be honest, Leslie’s ad was awesome. “I like Pawnee [and 527 other things]” is definitely an ad to air sometime, comically overeager as it was.)

Meanwhile, back in the Parks Department, Chris needs a bad cop, and turns to Ron to fill the void of one Ben Wyatt. It’s a perfect role for Mr. F. Swanson, who relishes the opportunity to crush his coworker’s hopes and dreams. But as fun as this was, the growing one-sided chumminess between Chris and Ron soon took a crazed turn.

Desperate for a new partner, Chris’ optimism and friendship beats down the independent Ron until they’re hanging out at work and lunch, and Chris invites Ron to an extracurricular activity. The best sight gag in an episode full of them: Ron tries to shut his office with his new auto-door closer, but the Human Microchip is too fast. By the end of it all, Ron forces poor Kyle to attend, but not before Chris notes that he was trying out Ron for Ben’s old job.

The only people not seeking a promotion: April and Andy. The pair go on a quest to solve their medical problems when Andy sneezes himself into a concussion. After being diagnosed by the same doctor who gave Jerry an, um, positive review, he refers Andy to a ton of specialists, including an eye exam where the eye chart turned into a game of Pictionary. Andy’s always been a bit of a doofus, but even this was a, err, straining premise. But I really can’t complain with a hilarious string of visits that culminated in Andy running into an ambulance and requiring a second ambulance to save him.

In the end, Leslie’s conscience gets the best of her, tackling Ben at the TV station and preventing the attack ad from airing. Instead, the team posts an attack YouTube video, culminating in a confrontation with their spoiled opponent. Pauly Newport begs, pleads, for Leslie to drop out and give him yet another thing he doesn’t have to work for. The parallels to a certain real world campaign are being seeded, and if television mirrors real life in any sense, we’re in for a long, crazy winter. Welcome to silly season, Bobby. It’s on like monsters versus aliens.


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