Parks and Recreation, Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington/Pie-Mary, (7.8-9)

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PR Mary

February 10th, 2015, 8:00 PM, NBC

Our little Pawneeans are growing up fast and furious, which naturally involves a thousand stops and starts on the way to maturity. In “Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington,” April and Leslie head to Washington to stabilize federal funding for the National Parks Department and to ensure long-term funding for the new park they scored two weeks ago back in Pawnee. During the trip, April comes under pressure to tell Leslie that she wants to quit her position as her assistant and pursue her own path. We all know how well Leslie takes change (IE: extremely poorly), so April finds herself trying to hide her decision from Leslie – which becomes extremely difficult when Leslie is offered a job in Washington that will allow her to split time between there and Pawnee – which leads to April making the ultimate decision between life as Leslie’s assistant and a life of her own. Meanwhile, Ron, Andy and Ben team up to handle Andy’s quest to find April a job before she returns from Washington with Leslie – and once they find the perfect job for her (with the accountants who adored Ben in season 6), Andy’s enthusiasm puts everything in jeopardy.

In “Pie-Mary”, Leslie resists tradition and refuses to enter the, well, “Pie-Mary”, a baking contest that occurs every election year between the wives of Indiana’s senatorial candidates. When she digs in her heels the press tears into Ben and calls into question Leslie’s skills as a homemaker, leaving them caught between the press’ sneering assumptions, the anger of one of Leslie’s favorite women’s organizations and the disgust of an MRA group. Meanwhile, April and Andy scour the building for a key to Ron’s house that April hid in the floorboards of her office and has since lost track of. When Ron finds out that the key’s unlocatable it leads to a citywide mad goose chase that reflects on the early days of Andy and April’s courtship. And Garry and Donna hang out and discuss their lives while Garry tries to fish his wedding ring out of a sewer grate.

Each episode brings something different – and surprisingly special – to the table. “Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington” is entirely about April and Leslie’s connection, their friendship – and ultimately how far under Leslie’s shadow April feels like she’s sunk. While I still find the ‘April desperately searches for a career’ subplot this season’s tried to sell us ludicrous, I suppose having her find the rainbow’s end she’s sought, one that will let her stay within driving distance of Leslie and Ben as they climb another political wrung on the Washington ladder to the stars. Meanwhile, the Ron/Ben/Andy subplot is funny but lacks depth – the biggest laugh being provided by Andy’s costume and attempt at getting April’s prospective boss to notice her.

“Pie-Mary” is, meanwhile, one of the more searching episodes in the show’s canon, presenting among other things an interesting defense for how they’ve written the triplets as non-entities throughout the season. Leslie and Ben’s speech at the end of the episode is perfect, and actually dares to put forth the notion that there’s no way to please every single social organization in the world, and the only thing you can do is please yourself and be a good person. That’s a somewhat dangerous statement in a world that’s been fractured by ideological strife more than ever in the past few years.

April, Ron and Andy’s scavenger hunt throughout the building is amusing and ends with a nice Ron/April moment that lets us say goodbye to their mentorship relationship.

And then we have the sub-subplot. One of the best surprises of this season has been Garry and Donna’s friendship, which has seemingly sprung up out of nowhere but has been very sweet and engaging over the past couple of episodes. It’s sort of a long-belated apology for the singularly worst joke in the show’s history, and the fandom’s least popular one by far.

What we end up with is a wonderful episode and an amusing one welded together, and one that’s ultimately well worth a Very Good rating.
The Roundup

  • Pop Culture Moments From The Future: Twin Peaks has been fully rebooted.
  • ”She’ll drown me in the Potomac! While she recites facts about the Potomac.” – April to Andy, worried that she won’t be able to tell Leslie she wants to leave her job without distressing her friend.
  • All of the items on Andy’s list of April’s job requirements were added gradually over the season, with “Work with Zombies (If Possible)” being a fresh one.
  • April designed her own college major: “Halloween Studies”.
  • She applied to the Parks department with a signed eight by ten of ALF.
  • Multiple real-life senators portray themselves during Leslie and April’s Washington jaunt.
  • Another Knope-Wyatt triplet is given a name, Stephen. His sister Sonya was named two weeks back in Gryzzlbox.
  • Mike Patterson now has a talk show, and the Hartwells are Indiana Congresspeople. And we got to see Brandi Maxxx again!
  • Aziz Ansari’s Tom Haverford doesn’t appear in either of these episodes.
  • Next Week: The final episode of Andy’s Johnny Karate show brings friends old and new back to town and then somebody dies in “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show” and “Two Funerals”
8.4 GREAT

The uniqueness of Pie-Mary brushes up against the sweet but blandness of MLDGTW. A fun experience, with lots of nice callbacks.

  • GREAT 8.4
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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.