• Parks and Recreation: Andy goes to college and Leslie and Ben make out in public

    Improvements abound this week, as Leslie and Ben make a new park, Chris orders up a new Parks Department logo, and Andy embarks on a quest for personal betterment that would make Chris proud and Ron Swanson give up all his gold. Plus, some public sexiness takes place on government property under the cover of night.

    Leslie is ideating for a new awe-inspiring park, a phoenix that will rise from a tiny plot of land from whence an obsolete pay phone booth was ripped. It’s tiny, and it’s going to become a statewide attraction, if she has anything to do with it. And, well, well, well, what do we have here? None other than her ex-secret-boyfriend Ben is working with her on this delightful project! She’s thrilled. Ben’s not. He tells her that he’s going to cut down on his interaction with the Parks Department and focus on others, because he’s still uncomfortable being around her. This signals that crazy steamroll-y brain of Leslie’s to command her mouth to flap on and on in an attempt to convince him not only not to cut down his interaction with the Parks Department, but to increase the time he spends with her, er, the Parks Department. Oh, Leslie. Will you ever learn?

    In office hi-jinks news, Tom’s back at his old job and has been tasked with rethinking the Parks Department logo, i.e., choosing a new font. Jerry is his #3, though there are only two people on the font taskforce. Jerry extols the visual power of Comic Sans and Helvetica. Tom wants the Sopranos font. Will these two visionaries ever see eye-to-eye?

    Andy hasn’t been to college. I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock. But he wants to improve himself. So, he starts looking into college courses. April and Ron help him choose what to take, April advising him to take the easy A route and Ron trying to get him to expand his horizons and challenge himself. Andy listens to his dear wife and attempts, badly, to pretend that he’s not a rock god in a class taught by an aging blonde called Guitar Playing 101 or something. It’s the one where you spend four weeks studying parts of the guitar and basic chords, and the prospect of such abject boredom prompts Andy to declare that he’s indeed an undercover rock star and storm out the door accompanied by the sound of his own acoustic string-bending. But it wasn’t all a loss: Ron (who goes with him to class, as he has taken an interest in Andy’s higher education) hits on the guitar teacher—with one caveat: she’d need to become a brunette.

    Leslie’s in full plan-devising mode. She wants to force Ben to continue to work with her on the Smallest Park and beyond, and pooh-poohs Ann’s protests. Full steam ahead! Leslie calls a community meeting to discuss the proposed park. Ben is there, so she tries to draw out the proceedings as long as possible, repeatedly encouraging the racists and idiots who live in Pawnee’s Former Home of Phone Booth District to contribute to the discussion. But it doesn’t go as force-planned (no one seems particularly fired up over the Smallest Park and its impact on the community), and Ben calls the meeting short.

    Andy, April, and Ron are now checking out Introduction to Lasers (Ron’s choice for a class that would challenge Andy). To Andy’s dismay, not only are no actual lasers used in teaching Intro to Lasers, the professor doesn’t even use a laser pointer. Significant bummer. So they bust out of there, leaving Andy to make his class choice. He used the old close-your-eyes-and-point method (his go-to decision-making M.O.). Cut to the three of them sitting on the edge of their seats in a lecture hall, completely enraptured. Welcome to Intro to Women’s Studies. April wants to be Joan of Arc, Ron wants to marry the anti-marriage professor (a comely brunette), and Andy decides to enroll. Until he finds out that the class costs $940. Significant bummer #2.

    After the meeting, Leslie, undefeated, wraps her tiny park project in controversy and red tape in the hopes of stalling so Ben won’t leave her forever. Will the tiny park have fireworks every night at midnight? Yes it will. The community is outraged enough to warrant an official government inquiry, which could drag out for months. But Ben kills the idea by canceling all of the events, fireworks included, thereby killing the drama and expediting the Smallest Park project. Chris is disheartened by the crumbling of the “Dream Team” of Leslie and Ben, but admits it’s basically dead.

    Back at the office, it takes Ann a good five minutes to break through Leslie’s rationalizations and hard-headedness and to make her realize that she is a steamroller/bulldozer and that she needs to leave Ben alone. And stop forcing Ann to watch the Harry Potter octalogy. And ordering drinks for her. And making her eat entire cheesecakes.

    Ron catches April hawking Mouse Rat CDs and candy bars by the shoeshine. When he realizes she’s trying to make money to send Andy to school, Ron offers him a scholarship. That gold buried in his backyard needs to be put to good use. Plus, Andy’s one of the people in the Parks Department that he’s not actively rooting against. What a sap.

    Leslie asks Ben to meet her in the Smallest Park. She tells him she’s trying to be less intense, and admits that she never listened to Ben when they were together, nor when they broke up. She understands if he doesn’t want contact with her. He says he doesn’t want that, but thinks it’s for the best. Everything appears sad, rigid, and over. Until Leslie, ravishing in a red jacket, rises from sad-sackdom like a phoenix of love and proposes with a cracking voice that they say screw it and be together. She says that, then asks Ben what he thinks. Ben responds by making out with her face in their little park and it’s honestly just scrumptious television.

    The new Parks Deparment logo? Neither Comic Sans nor the Sopranos font. And there will be no Apple Store-esqe Community Center, nor a reality show starring Pawnee Park Rangers. Just an old-school, 1970s-retro camp T-shirt iron-on font, like the one from Jerry’s original Parks and Recreation ID card. See, sometimes old, boring people have good ideas, even if they don’t know they’re having them! That’s the moral of the story. Or maybe it’s something about buried gold and rising from the ashes and true love and little parks. Or all of the above.

    So, tell us what you thought of the episode. If you need more of a refresher or if you missed the episode, altogether, you can 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 ithardlymatters.com and follow her on Twitter: @ithardlymatt3rs

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