Parks and Recreation
Season 5, Episode 12: Ann’s Decision
– Posted by Sage
Even the truest love doesn’t always last forever. But we will hold on the misty, watercolored memories of perhaps the most delicious, yet least practical ship on Parks. Ben/Calzones has come to a tragic end.
The bitter breakup comes courtesy of the catering finals Ben has orchestrated to pick the menu for the wedding of the millennium. His judges lineup features veggie connoisseur Chris Traeger, meat specialist Ron Swanson, and Instagram king Tom Haverford. Andy isn’t invited, but we’re not sure if it’s because of his unsophisticated palate or tendency to use frisbees as plates. Everyone but Tom tries the delectable cheesy-meaty-saucey pastry appetizer that puts its creator on the top of Ben’s list. After all, serving calzones at his wedding is the closest to actually MARRYING a calzone that Ben will ever get, at least until those GOD DAMN LIBERALS get their way. But the next morning finds the boys lumbering and rolling around Chris’s office like they just walked off the set of The Walking Dead. Food poisoning. Ben is jilted. Doublecrossed. Forsaken by his beloved. (“The calzones…betrayed me?”)
They know that the calzones were the culprit, because Tom refuses to eat food that requires him to exert any effort. (“Drizzle it on for me! I’m not your maaaaaiiiid.”) After a long and painful recovery, the boys find themselves back at JJ’s for a return to solid food. Ben realizes he’s been overthinking it – why pick a fancy caterer over Leslie’s favorite food in town? Looks like Beslie will be serving their guests a waffle tower instead of a wedding cake. PLEASE, oh please let them have a waffle tower. (Note to self: find waffle tower photo to pin to “Future Wedding to Ben Schwartz” Pinterest board.)
After the madcap shenanigans and Salt N’ Pepa singalongs of the rotating bachelor party, it’s good to see that Parks has no intention of abandoning this male-bonding theme anytime soon. They’re adorable, even when grossly ill. (“I cracked the bottom of the toilet bowl.”) And this light, silly storyline was the perfect complement to Leslie and Ann’s big life decision arc.
The writers have done an admirable job this year of fixing “The Ann Problem.” It’s never bothered me as much as some other fans who I’ve read, but her stories this season have been the most compelling that they’ve ever been. And, more importantly, they feel organic and not forced. Also, this Ann-finding-herself theme has always felt like a meta-acknowledgement of the issues that the show has run into trying to integrate that character into the Parks Department.
I LOVE this single mom plot, because it gives Ann an opportunity to drive it and not always be reacting to the other characters. AND, it makes for some funny and interesting Leslie/Ann interplay. I feel like I learned a lot about both of their characters this week. It’s pretty cray-cray to compare this Leslie to the one-note Leslie of Season 1. She fully supports any woman’s right to create “the family that she wants,” but still believes, deep down in her heart, that a family created from a loving, monogamous relationship is still better than the alternatives. (“The body is Ann’s, and the woman in charge of it is me.”) She may not have even known that about herself until she’s faced with Ann’s no-nonsense, no-waiting plan to have a kid. Stupid Hot Ann’s not doing this because she feels sorry for herself. It’s something that she wants in her life, regardless of relationships. For Ann, waiting for a guy to come along so that she can finally have a baby would have been like Leslie waiting to have a boyfriend before she pursued her career.
Ann does agree with Leslie that she should know more about the biological dad of her future kid, so she side-steps the sperm bank and does some research. The top 3 come in to Ann’s office under the pretense that she’s interviewing them for her blog. (I assume that Leslie worked some of her questions on to the list. I too would not allow myself to be inseminated by a man before knowing his favorite season of Friends, even though any answer is the right answer there.) We’ve got Dr. Harris, who’s a little mean (“The chairs in MY office are leather.”); high school basketball star Pete, who’s a little too clued in (“When will the women in this town stop scheming for my sperm!?”)…
…and Howard Tuttleman, who may be juuuuuuust right. Operation: Baby Douche, engage.
Douche, how little we knew you! Turns out Howard studied semiotics at Northwestern, before creating his satiric second persona and becoming Crazy Ira’s morning radio co-host. But his dual personalities are now fused, and no one can tell where Howard ends and Douche begins! Considering the Pawnee alternatives, Howard isn’t a bad choice. But his Douche-side can’t resist revealing the truth about Ann’s plan on the show, with plenty of bodily function sound effects thrown in. Leslie realizes that she’s imposing her own priorities on Ann, and she needs to make up for butting in and telling Douche the truth. Her apology comes with all the humiliation Crazy Ira and the Douche can throw at her, i.e. Leslie going ass over tincups in a baby pool filled with Jello while doing a truly terrible Bill Cosby impression. Friendship rule: you always forgive the people who are willing to embarrass themselves to earn it. And that’s a Leslie Knope specialty.
- April’s evolution from bored teen to slightly less bored public servant has been so true to her character. As sarcastic as she is, she’s still incredibly insecure, which is why she first decides to tackle Parks problems by BEING Leslie. And THIS is how the show has been able to make April/Andy work. It’s dim-bulb, teddy bear Andy who convinces April that she can handle anything better by being herself. Andy and April do make a great team, especially when Farts McCool gets in the mix.
- The “of course” moments in this episode: OF COURSE, Leslie can do figure skating jumps. And OF COURSE, she’s Team Jennifer. And of course she runs into Councilman Houser while screaming “Douche! DOUCHE!” in a parking garage. Of course.
- “FLEETWOOD MAC SEX PANTS, NEW BAND NAME, I CALL IT.”
- “Or maybe just Fleetwood Mac…”
- Ron’s horrified reaction to his salad course: “You’ve accidentally give me the food my food eats.” I’m surprised he doesn’t insist that all of his meat is fed with other meat. Meatception!
- Tom describes a food presentation as “coy dutch woman guarding a dark secret.”
- “No, tragically, we are both heterosexual,” is exactly how I feel about all of my girlfriends; and if you don’t feel that way, you need to get all new ones.
- Chris’s concern for Tom, even after his own death, was precious. “We must reach out to him!”
- Has anyone been watching Nick Kroll’s Comedy Central show? I think he’s kind of genius. Is it good?
- Have we seen Harris, the topless park guy, before? If not, welcome to the family, friend. May your dream be a reality someday.
- Jean Ralphio reference! 5 second dance party!
So many questions, Parks fans! Are we going to have a baby tropical fish on our hands soon? Or will Ann find her Ben-level soulmate before that? Can Ben ever forgive calzones? Will Shauna Mulwae-Tweep be able to love Ghost Chris Traeger? And, based on the promos for this week, will we even get to attend the biggest and best wedding Pawnee’s ever seen?