• Parks and Recreation recap: Leslie Knope is prouder than ever

    News item #1: Ron’s mustache is back! News item #2: City Council candidate Leslie Knope has written a book! It’s called Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America and she is promoting the everloving crap out of it. Let’s hop onto the book tour heard ‘round the world. (Or something. Whatever, it has something to do with Paul Revere.)

    Leslie passes out signed copies of her opus to her workmates, followed by Tom, who leaps into the office with brand-new 720E schwag. Gilded pillowcases for everyone! How can this stellar mood sour in an instant? The news that evil media queen and reported “Gotcha! journalist” Joan Calamezzo (Mo Collins) has declined to affix her fancy Joan’s Book Club sticker to the cover of Leslie’s book because Joan claims there is a mistake in the book. Leslie is appalled, and mobilizes the Parks and Rec crew on an elaborate fact-checking mission.

    The next morning, Leslie arrives to the set of Joan Calamezzo’s morning show to defend her honor. Ben and Tom accompany her. Joan can’t quite place Ben, but started shaking like Beyoncé on 4Loko when she sees Tom. During her interview with Leslie, Joan dramatically dangles her face-sized book club sticker over Leslie’s book, teasing her mercilessly with the gilded emblem until she gleefully breaks out her smoking gun: Joan has it on good authority that Leslie was not actually born in Pawnee! She literally screams “Gotcha!” and a giant Gotcha stamp is plastered over a still of Leslie’s flabbergasted face. Gotcha journalism at its finest, complete with Gotcha Dancers.

    This turn of events triggers the return of Burt Macklin, FBI (Andy’s badge-brandishing alter-ego). But Tom has a better idea: take Joan on a sexy lunch. (Cue rigorous cologne application.) He wants that sticker, on Leslie’s book, dammit. He needs Leslie’s coattails fully extended so he and 720E can ride them to the stars!

    While the fearsome threesome heads to sexy lunch, Leslie reads from her book at a local bookstore. Ben and “Burt” beam from between the stacks. It’s a relatively packed house (the Joan Calamezzo standee taking up a significant amount of space). But the crowd almost immediately turns on Leslie, lobbing probing questions about Leslie’s origin, and ultimately demanding proof of her nativity via birth certificate (Joan’s standee was oddly silent). Hang on, guys, I’m experiencing a déjà vu…

    At sexy lunch, Tom’s cologne is working. Joan is sloshed, making wildly absurd sexual metaphors involving caged peacocks, and powdering her ladybits in the bathroom. Ben is appalled. Tom is too, because they have learned that Joan is getting a divorce. And everybody knows that it’s no fun to full-on charm an available lady, yo! Joan is so drunk that she proposes a three-way with Tom and Ben. Thankfully, she passes out before this beautiful dream can become a reality, and the boys escort her to her gilded jungle-themed home (complete with an oil-on-canvas nude portrait of the peacock herself).

    Leslie’s campaign team (two, still unnamed suit-wearers) deliver the bad news: 68% of Pawneeans believe that she is a carpetbagger. The birth certificate duplicate she presents to them won’t cut it, so she has to venture to dreaded Eagleton to get the original. Of course, the beyotch at the Eagleton County Records Office says it’ll take 3-8 weeks to process that request. Chris tries to bewitch her with his handsomeness, but is soundly denied. “Burt” steps in, flips over the reception desk, enters the records office, and in a feat of sitcom magic, returns with a briefcase bearing Leslie’s birth certificate. Which states that she was born in…Eagleton.

    Horror of horrors! Leslie marches straight to the source: her always-pleasant (jokes!) mom, who verifies the dreaded fact. Over the sound of Leslie’s gagging, she explains that she had to switch hospitals the day she gave birth to Leslie because the Pawnee Hospital was infested and disease-filled. Leslie is not only stickerless, she’s what she hates most in the world: an Eagletonian.

    Chris delivers an inspirational speech, and Leslie decides to go back on Joan Calamezzo’s show. Joan. Though stunning in a jungle-print dress is obviously suffering from a massive hangover. Leslie doesn’t notice or care, and states to the people of Pawnee that it’s not where you were born, it’s where you are from (thanks, Chris!), and reiterates that she is running for City Council. Apparently this is enough for Joan, because in the final seconds of the show, Leslie shows off the big Book Club sticker that has been slapped on the cover of Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America. On the back cover? A Gotcha! stamp.

    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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