‘Parks and Recreation’ Episode 3.05 Review: Steak Out

Change can be scary. Change can also be hopeful. Change can also be really useful when you’re so broke you’re reduced to conning tips in a club bathroom. But change can also be a force for progress. Tonight’s Parks and Rec moved the marker forward in a number of plots, and served to be both a force of good and bad for our Pawnee pals.

The main story involves Leslie being honored by the state government in Indianapolis for her efforts with the Harvest Festival. Ron, no fan of government in any city, is going along– but only for a trip to Mulligan’s Steakhouse, which he has been to every year for decades. To prove his devotion to meat (as if we needed any further convincing), he has compiled a book of a never-aging Swanson eating at the diner at every possible occasion. NBC put the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness on their site after the premiere, and one can only hope they get hopping on a Mulligan’s diary ASAP.

Sadly for Ron, his constant traditions must butt head-on with the winds of financial change. Mulligan’s has hit hard times, and closed down in the interim. Ron is devastated– really, really devastated. (Ever the sympathizer, he cries “What happened to all the steaks that were left in there when it closed?”) Luckily for Ron, Chris has moved back to Indianapolis, and offers to host the two of them in his home for dinner. There’s just a couple of problems, evolutions in the scheme of things. Worse for Ron, Chris is being his usual self and offering salads and organic beef for dinner. Ron will have none of this, and is so heartbroken he leaves. Leslie, staying behind, must deal with the second major change of the night.

See, somewhere between last week and this week, Chris and Ann had a nice sit down about their relationship. He was moving back to the capitol, and Ann wanted to move forward. Ever since that moment, a scene we never really see, Chris has been acting distant. Ann recruits Leslie to check out if Mr. Sunshine– no disrespect to the ABC series– is cheating. One pink triathlon shower cap and women’s razor later, Ann books it to Indianapolis to confront her man. Except, well, Chris is so positive that Ann didn’t realize he wasn’t her man anymore. Awwwkward.

Speaking of relationship changes, April and Andy are finally together. Sadly, this change means Andy has no change, and isn’t doing very well as a broke boyfriend. The two decide to spend the night at Tom’s swanky Snake Hole party to pass the time. Unable to pay for drinks, April shows Andy the benefits of being a lady and nabs two drinks and a ton of tabs. Soon the shenanigans devolve into a contest to who can end the night with the most free swag. Andy calls it being like Robin Hood, “stealing from the club to give to ourselves”.

And yet, the more things change the more they stay the same. Ron Freakin’ Swanson is still a deep red-blooded American with an overwhelming passion for bacon, eggs, and anything beefy. He leaves Chris’ shrine of healthiness and tries to eat at a local diner. This leads to the best line of the night, a commonality for our mustachioed leader: You may have thought I asked for a lot of bacon and eggs, but what I said was “give me all the bacon and eggs you have”. April and Andy are back to their classic games in the most enjoyable couple of minutes of the party. (Even better was a grown man spy jumping over a cocktail table to return tips to the tip jar, putting the “Snaaaake” in Snake Hole.)

All the while, Ben has been slowly mutating from a plaid-shirt-wearing, tie-clad stick in the mud to a genuine member of the gang. Adam Scott has been great in this role, and his burgeoning friendship with Tom was great to see. The moment when he sprayed a blast of Tommy Fresh into the van of a jerkwad fragrance master outside the club was priceless. Hopefully Scott can grow into this role and keep being the awkward, loveable fifth wheel in the group.

This week was full of quotable lines– far too many to reproduce here– and a real sense of community after a series of single-focus plot lines. With the Harvest Festival impending, it’s good to see the show back in true form after a few down weeks. Now that the dynamics of character relationships have taken an abrupt shakeup over the past week or two, it should be interesting to see things settle down in Pawnee.

Article by Mark Ziemer


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *