Parks and Rec: Leslie chooses a fish for her campaign manager, Ben languishes in the ‘90s

Last time we saw Candidate Knope, she was enveloped in the warm and fuzzy metaphorical embrace of her co-workers that sprouted directly from their construction of a gingerbread house (oh, Christmas, ye are but a distant memory). See, she had been dumped by her campaign managers because she was polling at 1% following her escandalo, and instead of letting her drop out of the race, the Parks and Rec crew offered their services as her campaign team. Let the hi-jinks begin!

First order of business for Leslie is the selection of her campaign manager. She makes this into a Big Deal (lip drumroll and everything), and chooses Ann, because she likes Ann best. Ann is surprised, citing her lack of experience, but Leslie silences her by calling her a beautiful tropical fish. “What about Ben?!” cries Ann. “He’s more qualified!” But Leslie rightfully declares that Ben is poison (to her campaign, not to her ladyparts). Ann will be great. She just needs to start dressing better.

Well, looky here. Leslie’s former campaign managers are roaming the halls of the Parks and Rec HQ. They inform her that they are scoping out new candidates to replace her, and she does her classic indignant, “yeah, well…” response, and talks up her newly-formed advisory board (cue the Knope campaign’s Head of Security, Andy, who has broken the coffee pot trying to make Ramen and needs Leslie’s help).

An unemployed, therefore disheveled, junk-food consuming Ben becomes acquainted with his new roommate, a 3-legged pit bull named Champion. (Yes, Ben and April and Andy are all still living together. Will it ever end?) He’s mildly perturbed, but can’t really be bothered. He doesn’t shave anymore, is rocking a Letters to Cleo T-shirt, and has taken up Claymation and calzone-making. So why should he care about living with a 3-legged dog? One look at him, and Chris, who has come to check up on him, diagnoses him as “deeply depressed.” Ben protests, claims he’s great, and says that he’s just exploring fun activities. Riiiiiiight.

Ann presents Leslie’s campaign “theme” to the crack campaign management team: the Comeback Kid. A rally is being planned. It will take place at the Pawnee Sports Building, and Ann has secured a thematically-appropriate guest star to endorse Leslie: local basketball hero from the early ‘90s, Pistol Pete. Tom volunteers to secure a red carpet (required for every event, even walking down the street every day—he’s got red carpet insoles). And Ron will build the rally stage to ensure that no thieving contractors get Leslie’s campaign scratch.

Pawnee Central’s own Pistol Pete, looking quite fetching, arrives at Ann’s for a strategy meeting. Leslie is so excited about how the campaign is going, she starts to break dance in Ann’s living room. They want Pete to recreate the early ‘90s magic by dunking at the rally. But Pistol Pete won’t dunk. He doesn’t want to live in the past. He’s a distributor of ham loaves, now, dammit. Ann persists, saying they’ll take even a lay-up. But Leslie wants that dunk, and orders Ann to do whatever it takes to convince him to do it. Anything short of sexual favors, of course.

Ron is transporting the stage fixin’s and April, Andy, Tom and Champion in a big rig. They are pulled over for seat-belt violations, and excessive horn-honking (Andy) among other things. Ron can’t talk his way out of this one, so April calls Ann to report the team’s misfortune/malfeasance, and Leslie heads out to sweet-talk the po-po and save her friends (and the rally).
Ann counsels Pete while Chris counsels Ben, who is expounding on the superiority of calzones over pizza. Ann unpacks Pete’s psychological hang-ups, and Chris tries to break through the haze of Ben’s depression with some straight talk. (One of these counseling sessions leads to a make-out session, and one leads to someone weeping in the fetal position. Can you guess which is which?)

Rally time is upon us and nothing is right. The basketball court has been converted to a hockey rink, Leslie’s poster sucks, the stage is tiny, Pistol Pete is curled up in a ball of Oedipal angst in the backseat of Ann’s car, and Tom underestimated the amount of premium red carpet they’d need. Jerry, for once, has managed to not pull a Jerry and has gathered 100 people to attend the rally . Dammit, Jerry! (Will that joke ever get old? It’s getting stale, for sure.)

After briefly considering canceling the rally altogether, the team regroups in the locker room, then walks onto the ice all together (Champion included) to the festive strains of Gloria Estefan’s early ‘90s jammeroo, “Get on Your Feet.’ They reach the end of the insufficiently long red carpet, and begin sliding awkwardly across the ice in their shoes. Ron carries Champion, because you can’t put a 3-legged dog on ice. Until he pees on him. Everyone falls. The rally proceedings are approaching debacle status, when Pistol Pete emerges from the car, runs onto the ice in his sneakers, and attempts a dunk, to the delight of the team and the energized crowd. You can guess what happens next. Cue “Get on Your Feet”!

Back at Ben’s, Chris’s pep talk is working. His final attempt to bring Ben back from the depths is to hand him an herbal smoothie that tastes like a belt. Ben has just one question for Chris: how did he know he was depressed? It was the Letters to Cleo T-shirt.

After the debacle, Ann is fired and Ben, in his Letters to Cleo T-shirt, is hired as Leslie’s campaign manager. Ben and Leslie make out, sickening Champion. Ann is happy to be relived of her duties. She wasn’t very good at campaign managing. And now she’ll have more time to go (reluctantly) on a date with the legendary and hospitalized Pistol Pete.

Watch the entire episode below!

Megan Gilbert

Megan Gilbert is a Brooklyn-based writer, making her a mystical unicorn. She has written for the New York Press, Paste Magazine blog, Blush Media, Underwater New York. She writes ad copy for Gawker Media, holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College, and is working on a novel starring a mystical unicorn (jk). Read her work at and follow her on Twitter: @ithardlymatt3rs

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien