The hatchet has still not been buried on the Ben and Leslie romance drama, but the show continues to make steps forward with them while showing the program’s versatility.
The episode is more or less a "bottle episode" as Leslie is put on trial for violating the city’s conduct code after Ben and Leslie turn themselves in to Chris. The show turns into a court room comedy and it works surprisingly well, besting Arrested Development even in their court room humor. Leslie is defending herself at the hearing, with Chris acting as the prosecution, and oh man is he out for blood. We really get to see a new side of Chris this week and it is a real showcase for Rob Lowe. Watching Chris deal with his depression of having to put two of his most adored employees under review is high comedy and involves a lot of natural supplements. Chris's passion for truth supersedes his personal feelings though and it allows for the episode to have a villain, of sorts.
Everyone else is playing background here with each character getting a nice beat or two in the trial. Andy's clueless nature, April's insane testimony, and Donna's hilarious summary of Leslie and Ben's hotel excursion were all great, but unfortunately Tom got stuck telling an old story from a previous episode. The weakest elements of the episode were the "flashback" testimonies--there were a couple besides Tom's--but thankfully there was plenty of original material. Ron steals the award for best testimony though, with a big assist to a great Tammy II appearance. While trying to hide his cabin's address with childish noises Ron stands up at the scent of Tammy II and utters the line, "I can smell the sulfur coming off her cloven hooves,;" it might be my favorite line on the show this season.
The real story here was what happened in the end, with Ben making a sacrifice and falling on his sword to save Leslie's job. When it comes out the couple bribed a janitor to keep their relationship secret, Leslie's job is more or less going to be gone, but Ben swoops in taking the blame and resigns to save the day. If this move wasn't enough, he proclaims his love for Leslie on the record and she does the same, to an annoyed stenographer Ethel, who reads it back to the two in a snowy embrace as they can finally begin their lives secrets free. I wonder what they are going to do with Ben now?
This was one of my favorite episodes of the season for Parks and Rec and I am amazed how well they have played out the Ben/Leslie relationship. Most other shows would have faltered in a run of episodes like this, so focused on a couple with such a large ensemble being under used, but they made it work while getting stronger along the way. The creative team was even able to do so without wasting those around Ben and Leslie, using most characters to pitch perfect effectiveness. Well done, and I can't wait to see where they go from here.
-"Don't sass me."
-Ron and the internet are appropriate enemies.
-I want a Little Sebastian doll.
-What the hell was that portrait?
-"Now my mouth feels like a spaceship."
-That is a lot of herbal supplements.
-"To be set adrift on Lake Michigan like a human popsicle."
-Chris is quite accusatory.
-That stenographer is lazy. And a gambler!
-That was an amazing video for Anne.
-"Did Tom Ford turn around the house of Gucci?"
-"Beavers did it!"
-Ron can smell Tammy II? His testimony was amazing. And he is running.
-"That went terribly."
-"Ok, mine doesn't have any pictures."
-"Any woman caught laughing is a witch. That's true."
-Great week for Pawnee murals.
-Ben, a stand up guy.
-Awe Chris, you're so sweet.
-Chris can't handle emotion under all this stress.
Until next week...