‘Parks and Rec’ 4.04 Review: Mighty Moping Pawnee Rangers

Ever since the show’s second season rebirth, once a year Parks and Recreation has done an outdoors-y episode. Every time, these episodes remain some of the best of their respective seasons. In season two, Ron took the department on a hunting trip and bagged a…pack of ice on his injured skull. In season three, Leslie took the gang on a “luxury” camping expedition to brainstorm for post-Harvest Festival festivities. And now, one of the outright funnier episodes of the show’s fourth season takes place at the intersection of Survivor and What Not to Wear (Coincidentally, “Pawnee Rangers” is the show’s 50th episode.)

First, the A-story. Because showing young children the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness is not enough, Ron is in charge of a Boy Scouts -esque troop called the Pawnee Rangers. It works just as the Boy Scouts would, with a focus on manly self-reliance in nature, led by manly self-reliance personified (and Brother Nature, aka Andy Dwyer). Ron takes the gang of boys out in to the woods with nary but a tarp and a box and teaches them how to truly live life, sans video games.

Left out in the fun was Leslie, who years earlier had been told she couldn’t have her own gang of Rangers, and gathered her own group of Scouts, er, Rangers: The Pawnee Goddesses. Given merit badges for awesome hair and awesomer attitudes, the Goddesses are everything Ron’s Rangers are not. They’re clad in lilac, have a bunch of s’mores, sing the Bill of Rights to the hymnals of the uber-girl, Miley Cyrus, and have lively debates over equal rights.

The two groups battle it out for who has the best club until a male defector slips into the girls cabin—clearly, the Godessess’ forgot to build a treehouse with a “No Boys Allowed” sign— and battles the battle of the sexes. During a public forum, a bunch of puppies are delivered to the camp for Leslie’s team and the competition tilts ever so sharply towards cuteness. Andy—sorry, Brother Nature—and the boys flock towards the fluff and Ron realizes he’s lost the battle of modernity to video games, women, and cute animals. (Let no one tell you LOLcats are not a harbinger of the modern age.) Everything culminates in a great scene where Ron, who couldn’t even be told what to do at the altar, concedes that Leslie’s Goddesses are supreme.

Elsewhere in Pawnee, Tom Haverford and Donna have an excellent showcase on a very important day: Treat Yo’Self Day. The one day a year when all your troubles melt away and you indulge in all the cupcakes and commercialism your wallet can handle. Along for the ride (out of pity from Donna) is sad sack Ben, who’s been lashing out around the office* over the destruction of the one thing keeping him in Pawnee…Leslie.

*Exchange of the night: “Aww, did they cancel Game of Thrones?” and Ben’s subsequent forum-ready defense of the show. That’s two weeks in a row that Ben has served as the voice of the TV Club comment crew. Let’s not overdo it guys.

This B-plot was pretty good, mixing Tom’s best fashion moments with a more demand-side version of “Know Ya Boo”. There was some great physical comedy here (aaand some not-so-great wardrobes), but nothing was physically funnier and faux-pas worthy than the sight of Adam Scott in a muscular Batman uniform. Oh, and Batman cried. Let it all out, buddy. (Side note: The post-credits scene with Batman the IT Guy is worthy of its own spin-off show.)

Bringing up the rear were the only two guys left in the office: Chris and Jerry. Left alone to paperwork, Chris suggests Jerry take the afternoon off lest he develop rat tumors (Google said so!) When Jerry’s daughter comes into town for lunch, Chris tries to bail because, well, it’s Jerry…but soon reconsiders when the girl is far more attractive than she should be. (Seriously, Parks writers, Jerry is getting some major “pro” traits this year.) Naturally, there are the beginnings of a romance here, and Jerry seems none too happy despite outward appearances. This should be fun…

Overall, “Pawnee Rangers” showcased everybody in a hilarious episode that also brings potential for some further developments. We’ll get back to the City Council campaign soon enough, but if all the inter-master-plot episodes can be this good, then let’s get cookin’! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to learn how to make a shelter out of just a tarp. The weather is getting chilly.


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