• Parks and Recreation recap: “Soulmates”

    parks and recreation

    Let’s get it on…WOOOOOOOOOO, baby….oh, hey! Sorry about that! Was just working out some residual sensual feelings left over from the hookup hotbed that was our sunny, perky, little Parks and Recreation last night! OK, so who likes yellow hair and waffles?

    Apparently, all the lurve from last week’s episode has Leslie Knope in the mood for some lurve of her own. Fending off some super-sketchy sewage-themed come-ons (“Come on down to the toilet party”) from none other than Joe from Sewage, she goes out on a Parks Department limb and asks Ben out. It was a perfect opportunity, as he had just thanked her for recommending the Snow Globe Museum, which he thought was pretty awesome. But Ben awkwardly says no, leaving Leslie confused and generally bummed.

    Following Chris’s chipper announcement that Pawnee has received the unholy honor of being the 4th most obese city in America, the Parks & Rec crew are asked to come up with ideas for his brand-new health initiative. Leslie suggests a dodge ball league, and picks Ron for her team.

    Ron approaches Chris while he works out his lats on a park bench behind City Hall and starts talking about red meat. He says he’s eaten a commissary burger for lunch every day for 12 years, and is concerned that the new health initiative will eliminate the only part of his job that he likes. But Chris has an idea: turkey burgers! Ron thinks he means a fried turkey leg inside a grilled hamburger. But Chris is idea-riffing now; he suggests a burger cook-off. If his turkey burger tastes better than Ron’s hamburger, then no more hamburgers in City Hall.

    While dodging Ann’s cholesterol-testing needle (health initiative!), Leslie confesses that Ben rejected her. Ann suggests what every smug dating-in-the-real-world person suggestions to the dateless: Internet dating. Because she’s having so much fun just seeing a bunch of people (including some tall ponytailed sweatsuit-wearing stranger whom she kissed in the hallway and apparently loves her). Leslie agrees, and accepts Ann’s offer to help write her profile.

    Chris pops into Ron’s office and announces to Ron and April that he and Andy are going to Grain n’ Simple, a health food store 40 minutes away, to get supplies for the cook-off. Would they like to come?

    Ann, after kissing a handsome suit-wearing man goodbye, strides into Leslie’s office and asks, “You ready to rock this profile?” And they’re off. Leslie: Yellow-haired female likes waffles and news. Ann’s translation: Sexy well-read blonde likes the sweeter things in life. Through the arduous online profile setup process, we learn that, in addition to liking waffles and news, Leslie’s dream man is the Phantom of the Opera and she thinks turtles are condescending. And that her favorite place in the whole wide world is the bench in front of the wildflower mural on the second floor of City Hall. Oh, Leslie. You freaky-deaky sexpot, you!

    Aubrey Plaza

    Ron, April, Andy, and Chris enter Grain n’ Simple and are greeted by a chorus of cheerful “Hi, Chris!”es emanating from between the white, white teeth of the employees. Ron’s conducting an anthropological experiment, April’s looking for fake crows, Andy’s confused, and Chris is a pig in shit. Ron samples some vegan bacon by throwing it into a trashcan, just to make sure no one else has to eat it.

    Back at the office, Ann discovers that Leslie has a 98% match on hoosiermate.com. (That’s “soulmate” status, for the uninitiated.) Guess who is suggestively staring back at Ann & Leslie after they click for the big reveal? None other than Pawnee’s resident ladies’ man: Tom Haverford! (Um, called it!)

    Leslie immediately calls the CEO of hoosiermate.com and bitches him out for offering a “crap” service. The match was wrong—Tom’s like a little sister to her, for God’s sake! They can’t be soulmates! Or can they…?

    Ann kisses a tall blond cowboy goodbye before consoling Leslie, who is perplexed by the fact that gross guys love her and nice guys hate her. She decides to go on a fact-finding mission to find out why, as Ann puts it, “only douchey guys are buying what [she’s] selling.” Or as Leslie puts it: she needs to start a douchevestigation. She heads straight to Joe from Sewage’s office to ask him what he looks for in a woman. “She can’t be in a wheelchair. No canes, no gray hair.” Then he tells Leslie that he likes her because she not only is she not elderly, but she has a killer Dumpster. Oh, Joe. We have to admire his odorific persistence, don’t we?

    In their shared office, Leslie overhears Tom complaining to customer service about his recently-purchased foul-smelling seaweed almond under-eye cream. She cocks her head…echoes of her shrill hoosiermate.com phone call rattling in her brain. She impulsively asks Tom to lunch. Yes! On one condition: he can order apps and ‘zerts. Cue the hands-down funniest moment in Parks & Rec history. Behold the below. (There’s no clip available yet, but skip to 10:19.)

    So Les and Tom are at a chi-chi ‘straunt for lunch. Les asks Tom what he’d wish for if he had three wishes. An at-first reluctant Tom spills it: 1) he wants a big-ass house with ton of balconies, on which he can stand on in a terrycloth robe reading his iPad; 2) he wants to be the CEO of the Spike network, and Jamie Foxx is his best friend/costar of a raunchy series called Tommy and the Foxx; 3) he stars in Point Break as both the Swayze and Keanu characters. Les changes her tack and finds out that Tom hates everything she likes. She finally spills the beans about their online “soulmate” status. Tom busts Leslie for bringing him on a date, and sings an impromptu dating song (that will indubitably appear on Aziz’s highlight reel).

    Les’s revelation has altered Tom forever. Now he’s perusing real estate listings for 3-bedroom homes with Les’s “dream closet.” He calls her “boo.” He gazes at her. He puts her needs in front of his. At a staff meeting, he declares that they share a deep spiritual connection. Les realizes that she has created a monster. A lurve monster. She drags Tom out of the meeting by the head. She screams at him and then—dun, dun, dun–they KISS! Chris, fresh from the Grain n’ Simple, catches them. Leslie is so flustered that she pulls the fire alarm. Which doesn’t work. (See clip below).

    Chris is not happy. He has a strict policy: no interoffice relationships. Leslie swears it was all a joke, then consumes a proffered cucumber flower. Ben asks Tom what happened, to which he responds, “Girl likes Indian food, what can I say?” He’s kidding. Well, not really, because he goes on—and on, and on—describing his stirring make-out with Leslie. Ben is obviously not happy, either.

    Time for the cook-off! The distinguished panel (Tom, Donna, Jerry, and a mystery man named Kyle) taste the Asian-fusion turkey burger and love it. Then they taste Ron’s meatbomb and declare it an instant winner. Chris even likes it better. The red meat stays! Fatness 4eva!

    Chris tells Leslie that he’s sorry that he forced her and Tom to break up, and admits that just the other day Ben asked him if it was okay to “socialize” with someone from the government, and he said no. Because his rules apply to everyone. Leslie approaches Ben, asks to talk. This time, he’s receptive. So, at his suggestion, they sit and eat Ronburgers in front of the wildflower mural on the second floor. Everyone together:


    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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