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Parks and Recreation, “Eagleton” (3.12)

Leslie (Amy Poehler) addresses the Eagleton Public Forum while Lindsay (Parker Posey) looks on.

A review of the episode, written by Emily Spivey and directed by Nicole Holofcener, after the jump…

“Eagleton”, comedically, may have been on the weak side compared to this season’s best offerings, but it had enough heart that the episode worked quite well. Parks and Recreation uses another guest star, this time finding a way to use Parker Posey’s natural stiffness to good effect, as she plays a former Pawnee girl who now snobs around as the ‘Leslie Knope’ to Pawnee’s rich neighbour, Eagleton.

You could compare this plot to a similar ‘feud’ episode to a Parks and Rec classic, the original “Ron and Tammy” (2.08): both episodes feature the Parks Department coming into conflict with another government force over a shared interest. But just as that episode used the feud as an excuse to give us the Ron and Tammy coupling, this one is merely an avenue to explore the betrayed friendship between Leslie and Lindsay. The emotional component of the episode was very strong, because you could see where both characters were coming from: Lindsay’s overcompensation makes much more sense when you learn that she’ll forever remember that Leslie was Eagleton’s first pick, and Leslie’s hurt rage makes much more sense when you realised that Leslie sacrificed her ideals for a cause and Leslie didn’t. Leslie isn’t the type to grandstand for others’ respect, so we know that if Lindsay didn’t exist Leslie still wouldn’t have taken that job offer… But seeing Lindsay enjoying all of the perks that Leslie denied herself, and the life she would have had, stings anyway.

It all tied together with a wonderful love letter to the Ron/Leslie relationship, wherein he disagrees with her on every fundamental level, and yet can’t help but admire how she fights for what she believes in. The final sequence of scenes, in which Leslie gets him to recount how he convinced her to stay, and then surprises him with exactly the birthday we knew she’d give him (the perfect Ron Swanson birthday), was wonderful.

For that, I’ll forgive an episode that made me smile more than laugh out loud. The episode got some genuine laughs from me – Andy smashing Tom with the garbage bag being the loudest, though the gift bag jokes worked much better than they should have. And while it didn’t leave me roaring, seeing the two public forums side by side made me smile. The episode also got to play with some class issues, even if only at the most basic level. So, all in all a funny episode, though I hope the writers can pull off at least one “Ron and Tammy”-level episode by end of season.

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