Parks and Rec: Leslie endures an ethics trial, plus the triumphant return of Ethel Beavers

Now that Leslie and Ben have decided to flaunt their love in the face of the world, they have to answer to the Pawnee Ethics Committee for all of those adorable nicknames and amazing back rubs. How unpleasant. Plus, Ron learns about Google Street View (he’s so very unhappy about it), and we learn about Parks Department relic Ethel Beavers’ sideline gig. Always knew there was something shady going on behind that harmless facade.

Chris calls Leslie and Ben in for a meeting, during which he decides not only to launch a full ethics investigation into their wrongdoing, but also tells them that he loves them. Moving on.

The next morning, Ben and Leslie, nerds as they are, show up for the hearing several hours early. Ben gives her a good luck charm (a mini L’il Sebastian, ya’ll! (Air horn sound!)) and tells her that he’ll be right on the other side of the trial room wall, right behind Old Stoneface (a Pawnee elder whose face was blown up in a rock quarry accident). So every time she looks at his mangled visage, she’s to think of Ben’s unwavering support.

Chris, hopped up on B12, St. John’s Wort, and the glistening blanket of snow falling over Pawnee, shows up to cheerfully ruin Leslie’s life. Leslie freely admits her relationship to the judge, like a modern-day Sarah Nelson Quindle, the brazen elbow-flasher whom, as punishment for that class A felony, was left to drift forever on Lake Michigan atop an ice floe. Ah, the rich history of our dear Pawnee.

Alongside the ghosts of Ms. Quindle the harlot and Old Stoneface, the only people at the trial are the judge, Leslie, Chris, an old guy in a suit, an old woman in a suit, and the wonderfully ancient Ms. Ethel Beavers (whom you might remember from last season’s “The Bubble”) acting as court stenographer. Leslie is questioned by the judge, and she fesses up to everything, clear-eyed, open-hearted. Then it’s Chris’s turn. He is extremely stressed out and accuses Leslie of a lot of bad-sounding things that he claims can be proven via the testimonies of his 14 witnesses. Record scratch.

Know what time it is? (Air horn sound!) Time for Leslie to assemble a crack team of paralegals/private investigators made up of Parks Department employees! Andy’s digging for evidence (if he can remember where/what it is), Ron is digging for witnesses from among the department heads (if he can remember who they are). Ann is instructed to text Leslie every 30 seconds to tell her it’s all going to be okay, an order she follows with gusto. Thanks to the intrepidness of these fine people (plus April, who is helping Andy, and Donna, who is helping Ron) Leslie Knope will prove that she is no frozen whore!

Ron is the first to report back. He’s discovered that Chris has a star witness that’s going to make it difficult for Leslie to avoid eternal frozen whoredom. She orders him to find this witness and silence him. Not kill him, silly, just make him shut up. Ron, happy as a kid with a pellet gun in a petting zoo, sets off on his mission.

Then we come to the part where Leslie is dragged through the mud. We are reminded of her and Tom’s sloppy make out. Her character witnesses are a hot mess, April assuming an hysterical courtroom accuser persona and repeatedly shouting “Beavers did it!” while pointing at the unfazed senile stenog. Andy, confused darling, confesses to stealing a laptop. Leslie, high on the Law and Order-like proceedings, blows her ah-ha! explanation of a suspicious hotel receipt (Chris ordered her and Ben to work together, offsite), and is momentarily disheartened. She confers with Ethel Beavers during a break. Ms. Beavers gives Leslie a 60/40 odds. To lose. That devilish, unethical Ethel! (Air horn sound!)

Character witness Ron, on the witness stand in support of Leslie, thwarts the court’s ability to hear Leslie read his address by screeching over her, then runs out of the room when he learns that Tammy Two (Megan Mullally) is Chris’s killer witness. Things are not looking good. But TT (MM) decides not to testify after Chris reminds her that if she lies under oath, she’ll be fired and prosecuted. Bye, bye TT (MM). But then the real killer witness waltzes in: George, the maintenance worker Leslie bribed to keep quiet after he saw her kissing Ben at L’il Sebastian’s memorial service. Uh-oh. Leslie smartly asks for a fact-finding break.

The crack team is back at it, pouring through old law books for loopholes. Instead, the find that black people are still not allowed to walk on city sidewalks and that missionary-position sex is illegal, along with all other sexual positions. Leslie’s dismayed and fully convinced she’s a bad person. But after a patented Ron-Leslie morality check-in, she calls off the loophole search, and prepares to face her fate.

It’s time for Leslie’s sentence. Dun, dun dun…she gets suspended for two weeks with pay. Wha? According to Chris, it’s Ben’s doing—he called a private meeting, took the blame for the bribe and resigned, effective immediately. And according to Ms. Beavers’ airtight records, Ben admitted in the meeting that he loves Leslie. Chris, moved to tears, accepts Ben’s resignation. Crying noise. Crying noise. (What the hell—air horn sound!)

Later that night Leslie visits Ben and, under a sprinkle of pure white snow, makes out with him on his mouth. Ethel Beavers emerges from the backseat of Leslie’s idling car and reads aloud Leslie’s official statement: Leslie Knope loves Ben Wyatt with all of her heart. (Air horn sound!)

You can check out the full 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

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