In Parks and Rec’s four season run, the show has only had one Halloween episode prior to last night’s show, only because this is the second time the show’s been on the air in the fall. The last Halloween episode, “Greg Pikitis,” in which Leslie engaged in a battle of wits with her prank-loving teenage nemesis, is one of my favorite Parks episodes ever. While I didn’t like “Meet ‘n’ Greet” quite as much as “Greg Pikitis,” it was still a funny and thoroughly entertaining installment of Parks and Recreation that found funny and exciting new ways to explore the relationships between the characters in the show’s large central cast.
Leslie’s City Council campaign is heating up, and Tom Haverford is putting on a fundraiser for Leslie under the banner of his flashy multimedia conglomerate Entertainment 720. The event brings Pawnee’s small business owners (who run an extremely absurd assortment of companies) together, but Tom uses the gathering as an excuse to promote Entertainment 720. Tom debuts a promotional video in front of the attendees, which ends with an “anonymous” endorsement from a social networking tycoon, who speaks to the camera with his voice modulated and his face and body blacked out. The man hints heavily at being Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s clearly Tom.
Leslie confronts Tom about upstaging her, after tracking him down in his Hummer limo’s hot tub. Tom explains that his stunt was a last-ditch effort to save Entertainment 720 from destruction, explaining that the company has facing bankruptcy. The writers have left us wondering for weeks how much longer Entertainment 720 could stay in business, with its demise likely to occur at any moment. Tom pronounces the company “dead” in last night’s episode, but I’m hoping we get to at least see a big going-out-of-business party, complete with an extended appearance by Jean-Ralphio. With Entertainment 720’s future looking grim, Tom’s next move remains up in the air. The episode left us hanging as to whether he’ll be trying to salvage his company or returning to the Parks department. We shall see.
The episode’s other big story involves Andy and April throwing a Halloween party without telling their roommate Ben (remember when he moved in with them last season?). Ben spends the whole episode refusing to admit he’s angry, while Andy tries to provoke him into expressing his emotions. After going to great lengths by holding Ben in a headlock for much of the evening, Andy finally wears him down, causing Ben to hit him in the face and break his nose. In the ER, Ben finally speaks his mind and lays down some ground rules for appropriate roommate behavior, only to learn that the problems surrounding his living situation go deeper than he thought: Andy and April have been having sex on his comforter.
We haven’t seen an episode involving April, Andy, and Ben’s living situation since Ben first moved in with those two slobs in Season 3. It’s a corner of the Parks universe that is always entertaining and could stand to be explored more. The episode’s smaller storylines follow Ron and Ann joining forces to do maintenance work on Andy and April’s house and Jerry continuing to struggle with the idea of Chris dating his daughter Millicent. The Jerry/Chris storyline felt pretty similar to their dynamic in the last episode when Chris began seeing Millicent, but the Ron/Ann plot featured a funny and fresh pairing that the show hasn’t explored in-depth. Ann has long been one of the few voices of reason amongst Parks and Rec’s menagerie of big, broad characters (although Ben and defunct Mark Brendanawicz have also shared this burden), but this episode featured a refreshing use of her outside of the straight woman role she normally fills.
The cast's Halloween costumes:
Ron Swanson – Pirate
Ann Perkins – An eggplant (or a beanbag, according to Ron)
April Ludgate – A sumo wrestler after he lost the weight
Andy Dwyer – UFC fighter Chuck Liddell
Jerry Gergich – Mr. Potato Head
Donna Meagle – Police Officer
Chris Traeger – Sherlock Holmes
The contents of April and Andy’s “toolbox” (it’s a plastic grocery bag):
–Half a pretzel
–A baseball card
–A Sonic the Hedgehog Sega cartridge
–A scissor half
–A flashlight filled with jellybeans
Small businesses in attendance at Leslie’s fundraiser:
–Kerston Rubber Nipples
–Food and Stuff
–Glenmore Discount Cemetery
–Tramp Stamp Tattoos
–Enormous Kenny’s Fried Dough Stand and Mobile Phone Emporium
–Smooth Operator Bikini Waxes
–Jeff’s Savings and Loan
Tom Haverford’s Slang Term of the Week:
Tom says “the tails” instead of “the details,” explaining that, “Most people would probably say ‘the deets.’ I say, ‘the tails.’ Just one more example of innovation.”
–Although Andy did tease the prospect, it’s a shame Ben didn’t use the Halloween party in his house that he wasn’t attending as an opportunity to bust out his Batman costume.
–I was happy to see April’s creepy friend Orin return. He didn’t have any lines (I think), but he’s one of the funnier Simpsons-esque minor characters the show has introduced recently and is always good for an eerie reaction shot.
–Why haven't we seen Jerry's wife yet? It seems strange that he shows up to these social functions alone. With his daughter now a regular character, it's about time we get to meet Gayle Gergich.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.