The return of Parks & Rec is the beginning of the final push to the season finale and it did a fine job of reestablishing the grounds before the fists start flying in the campaign.

Leslie gets caught up in a budgeting mess at the office after flexing some muscle to help the Parks Department and unknowingly sabotaging her campaign in the process. The money she saves from being cut from the Parks Department ends up being cut from an animal shelter instead, and Bobby Newport’s campaign jumps at the chance to smear her as a pet killer. The obvious conclusion arrives, Leslie adopts all the pets, but the twist is mostly there to set up a slick campaign play by Leslie at the end of the episode.

The interesting bit that comes out of the animal shelter closing is April is given a chance to shine in a pet adoption she runs. Overwhelmed by taking over a lot of Leslie’s case load, April is looking for a win with the adoption, but doesn’t quite get there. It’s nice to see April looking for a purpose in her life and at work, and the character has come quite a ways from the droll looks into the camera of Season 1. I can’t imagine she will find her way by the end of the season, but I am glad the show continues to try and move her forward. The storyline also gave us one of Tom’s sweetest moments in the series as he gives April some hope that she is doing some good in her life.

Ron and Chris get to know each other a little bit better this week as Chris invites Ron along to meditate. Ron blows everyone away at zoning out and doesn’t even know it, but that isn’t the revelation worth mentioning from this plot. The show finally raises some stakes for Chris when a fellow employee lets it slip that Newport plans to fire Chris if he wins the election. This not only raises the stakes for Chris, but Leslie as well now that her potential victory has a lot more riding on it. Ron gets a couple of great one liners this week, per usual, but I really am enjoying the relationship him and Chris have been developing; shame about Ron's lack of a promotion.

Back to Leslie, her budget meddling also ends up with Anne possibly losing her job as well and Leslie decides to concede her flub to Newport in turn for no more animal killer attack ads. It’s a bold strategy move by Leslie as she knows she is going to kill in the debates and it is an effective way to level the playing field against the seemingly unbeatable Newport camp. The way they the introduced Bobby’s campaign manager made it seem like Knope didn’t stand a chance, but in one scene they were able to reinstall the audience’s hope in Knope.

Sweet and funny, another solid episode of Parks & Rec doesn’t set the world ablaze, but does exactly what it needs to after the hiatus. The character arcs they deal with move everyone forward, they set some stakes for the eventual finale, and deliver plenty of laughs too. It’s not the best episode of comedy of the season, but for Parks & Rec it is another solid piece in the puzzle for the season’s potential game changing end game.

Bullets:

-Anne loves Tom's apartment, not Tom, great. Pretty girly apartment though, Tom.
-Bradley Whitford, go see Cabin in the Woods.
-"Thatsa me!"
-"All due respect Mr. Hamster Penis..."
-"How about a cologne that kills spiders?"
-Say your good bye's Puddles."
-"This strip mall has surprisingly decent chi."
-"What, this cat was in Boogie Nights!"
-"He wanted the dogs to play poker."
-Ron is getting promoted.
-"I don't know what it is, but I would like to eat the whole thing."
-"Am I Michelle?"
-Some stakes for Chris thrown in here, very needed.
-"This little, terribly dressed girl has a puppy."
-What was that Anne moment with Chris?
-Well played Knope.

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