Parks and Recreation: “Flu Season 2” (6.19) – TV Recap

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Parks and Recreation: Season 6, Episode 19 – “Flu Season 2”

April 10th, 2014, 8:30 PM, NBC

The flu hits Pawnee again, just in time for a sick Andy and Leslie to nail down acts for the unity concert. They end up in panic mode when their big get cancels and head out on a road trip to convince popular but diva-like country singer Chip McCapp to change his mind and perform for the assemblage, but Leslie soon realizes her flu symptoms might signify a completely different – and more permanent – change of lifestyle. Meanwhile, Tom holds a competition at a vineyard to find a sommelier for his restaurant, taking Ben, Ron, Craig, Donna, and April to the wine tasting competition with him. He tries to score a contract with master sommelier Xander Truffaut, who might become Indiana’s master – and thus most highly sought—sommelier through pure finesse, but the solution to his problem lies right before his eyes. April poses as a professional wine taster and snarks on the competition with Donna, and the ever-imperious Craig Middlesbrook also enters into the competition, though with more intensity and seriousness than either of his friends. And, finally, Ben seeks Ron’s advice when his parents acrimoniously sell family property without telling him. Ron’s so uncomfortable with this request for emotional intimacy that he gets Ben drunk, which becomes a problem when they get lost in the woods and bump into a past nemesis of Ron’s, who ends up helping Ron provide Ben with spiritually healing advice.

This week’s Parks is filled with fluids consumed and spat in projectile form. That would normally be a pretty darn gross, but, as with all thing Parks, it ends up being kind of endearing. It’s another week of major milestones you won’t want to miss if you follow this show. Plots move along at a proper pace; the Unity Concert finally gains a headliner this week, and it turns out to be a surprising party. The Andy and Leslie dynamic is as funny and adorable as always, though Leslie’s not as chipper as she would normally be, because of Reasons. Did I mention that this episode pays off a lot of long-developing plot threads? Yep, it definitely does.

And if you’ve been watching the show for any length of time, this episode does a beautiful job making you happy with its twists and turns. The way the episode manages to dovetail together several callbacks and storylines from earlier in the season into tonight’s plot, making it important and meaningful, is pretty darn masterful; it rewards longtime viewers in every single aspect and leaves them smiling. The humor is sweet as always, and it even manages to be cheerfully ridiculous while giving one a lift.

Flu Season 2 is indeed one of those strange episodes of Parks that will work for longtime fans, but probably won’t do much for somebody just learning about the wacky world of Pawnee. It’s hampered by a weak b-plot, yet absolutely necessary for fans of the show with emotional attachments to the characters.

The show’s two biggest problems come from the b-plot and the fact that the show just plain isn’t accessible to newbies as a first episode. While I love Tom plots, and I love April plots, this week’s example of each feels like a threadbare example of the two’s best moments. April’s crack at trolling Pawneean high society is mildly funny (especially if you’re anti-wine snobbery) but a bit easy to predict the direction of; you can see her endgame coming a mile away, and it’s somehow less funny than it could be. I wanted more Donna and April interaction, but that too seems beside the point of the plot.

And while I’m enjoying the promise of Tom’s restaurant –related storyline, It’s a little tedious. I know Craig was created to help fill in the void left behind by Ann, but his adventures are wooden compared to the rest of the gangs’.

The Ben/Ron plot, however, was a nice example of watching two characters bounce off of one another under unusual circumstances. It’s always fun to watch Ron play father figure to somebody who’s not Leslie.

“Flu Season 2” is indeed one of those strange episodes of Parks that will work for longtime fans, but probably won’t do much for somebody just learning about the wacky world of Pawnee. It’s hampered by a weak b-plot, yet absolutely necessary for fans of the show with emotional attachments to the characters. In the end, the episode’s value depends on the user. I found it essential but, depending on your feelings about Leslie and Ben – you might not.

The Roundup

  • Chip McCapp’s big hit is entitled “Beautiful Like My Mom (Support the Troops).”
  • Chip’s portrayed by comic Bo Burnham.
  • Bands on Andy’s awesome band wishlist for the unity concert include “Hand Jive Hour”. “Open Mic Power”, and “Manager Checking Schedule”.
  • Land Ho, an in-universe famous band, split up so acrimoniously that their final album was entitled “We’re Never Getting Back Together.”
  • The Unity Concert is loosely described on promotional posters as taking place “Spring 2014”.
  • Andy made his debut as a children’s party performer in this seasons’ “Farmer’s Market”.
  • Craig Middlebrook, Donna’s assistant , returns in this episode.
  • Next week: Ben and Leslie try to organize a charity fund to bankroll the concert; April tries to order Andy’s life through clever use of schedules; and Donna seeks out Ron’s help to deal with an ex in “One In 8,0000”.
[notification type=star]89/100 ~ GREAT: While not accessible to newbies and suffering from a dull b-plot, this episode is essential watching if you’ve been following the show for a number of reasons. Half of the episode is engrossing, funny, touching and well-executed; the other half is apt to bore. But together it’s a very good and well-thought-out experience.[/notification]
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About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of Firefox.org, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.