Synopsis of 7×08/09: Friendship was the theme this week as the residents of Pawnee begin to move on to new challenges and opportunities in their lives.

Rating: ?????

To be honest, I would have rated this week as a whole lower if not for the absolutely wonderful episode that “Pie-mary” was. This week was focused primarily (eh? eh?) on the future careers of our lovable dorks and how that would affect their lives in Pawnee as a whole.

The love these two women have for one another is astounding [NBC]
The love these two women have for one another is astounding [NBC]
What I’ve always loved about Parks and Rec is that, unlike other office sitcoms, the characters all truly love, care, and respect one another. Even when you have characters like Craig who appear for short bursts, they’re respected for what they are good at and others are able to see their worth. Which made it hard to me to watch April flounder about in D.C. when she accompanies Leslie on a trip to lobby to Senators and Congressmen on behalf of the National Park System. April’s overall arc this season has been a relatable – “What am I doing with my life?” that a lot of college age/ recent grad viewers are struggling with too. As Leslie drags her around preparing her for her future career in the federal government, where they’ll be “Gov Buds for Life,” April can’t help but begin to crumble and realize that she really is losing herself to other’s expectations. When she finally breaks the news to Leslie that she’s going to quit, Leslie reacts in an atypical fashion and takes it incredibly personal, especially since she just accepted a new job in the Parks Department herself and had already mapped out a whole new plan for April.

Meanwhile, in Pawnee, Ron, Ben, and Andy are trying their hardest to find April a new job, even going to incredible lengths to get her just an interview. She’s not the most appealing candidate (a self-designed major in Halloween Studies, a resume that is just a signed photo of Alf, among other reasons), but her friends’ enthusiasm for her and belief in her leads to her getting a chance to talk to a company – that she turns down in the end.

You see, Leslie and her finally came to an understanding (in a heart warming scene where April declares her love for Leslie and that she didn’t want her to be angry with her), and Leslie in return brings her to a non-profit that’s supposed to help people find positions in careers they want, and it ends up being exactly what April wants. Looks like buying that run-down house was premature – the Ludgate-Dwyers are moving to Washington!

The Male Men have a huge problem with Ben and Leslie's dynamic [NBC]
The Male Men have a huge problem with Ben and Leslie’s dynamic [NBC]
But the second half hour is where the laughs were aplenty in one of their strongest episodes ever. Ben and Leslie are preparing to run for Congress, and Jennifer Barkley isn’t too happy with having to remind Leslie that she’s only the candidate’s wife right now, not the candidate. Leslie has always been an incredibly independent and feminist person, but a candidate’s wife is supposed to be none of those things. While Jen reminds them that Leslie is supposed to do nothing but stand in the background, she does just that and immediately receives flack for not competing in the “Pie-mary,” where candidate’s wives bake pies in their biggest contribution to the campaign. The two of them get flustered and decide that Leslie will just bite the bullet and do it, since she’s good at it already, when the local women’s club president stops by to commend her for not participating. In a hilarious moment of confusion, Ben walks in, declares “Hubby’s hungry,” and they are faced with a new challenge – if Leslie competes, the women’s group will have to boycott Ben’s campaign.

They just can’t catch a break, can they?

Deciding to not care about what anyone thinks, Ben decides to enter the competition himself, since he’s excellent at making calzones and pies are just dessert calzones anyways. The Male Men, Women Against Feminism, and other candidate’s wives don’t like that though, and all hell has broken loose for their campaign; Leslie controls Ben, Leslie doesn’t believe in family life, Leslie is a bad mom, Ben is a horrible father. For a thirty minute show the writers did a damn good job of pointing out almost every problem that modern day politics and political campaigns have.

Eventually, the two decide to hold a press conference where they go to apologize, but then throw caution to the wind and decide to just say forget about it to everyone who opposes them. After Ben speaks, Leslie stands up and slams every dumb question that women seemed to be asked constantly, “Why did you change your hair? Maybe I wanted to or maybe my kid got gum in it. Do you think you can really have it all? That’s a dumb question, why is it even still asked? (With Ben chiming in, “And why am I never asked those things?”)” And my personal favorite: a slam down of the Male Men who attack her for “destroying Ben” with “You’re ridiculous, and men’s rights is nothing.” Everything about the plot of this episode was beautiful, and of course ending it with Ben winning “Woman of the Year” for supporting Leslie was the icing on the cake because you know what? It’s one-hundred percent accurate.

“We definitely do not live down here.” [NBC]
The B-plot focused on April having to tell Ron that her and Andy were going to move to D.C. Ron takes it surprisingly well, but demands that April returns the key to his house that he gave her when she became his assistant. In typical April fashion, she’s lost it – because she hid it in a place where no one would be able to find it ever. Armed with nothing but a random note, four teeth, and a ticket stub to Twilight: New Moon, Ron grabs his gear and runs off to begin the scavenger hunt.

As we are led to fun places and memories around City Hall, they bring in Donna to tell them what exactly New Moon meant, and as Donna explains that she took April to see it after getting her wisdom teeth taken out, but they were kicked out, and that she demanded that she bring her to the office so that she could leave something for Andy at the shoe stand. As everyone teases her for how much she liked Andy, “You had a crush on me? That’s embarrassing!” “We’re married.” “Yeah, but still.” they run off to find the shoe shine stand that’s now been put in storage.

Donna goes to leave, but stumbles upon Garry trying to fish his wedding ring out from the grate that he dropped it down. I don’t know how I forgot to mention this in my last recap, since it actually made me cry, but Donna and Garry’s friendship is probably my favorite one out of the whole series. At her wedding, Donna puts his name down as Garry to which everyone starts teasing him and saying that they were going to call him Garry, and the mystery of his name is solved. Garry really was his name the whole time, and Donna was the one who made it for the first time in 30 years that his coworkers would call him that. The smile and wink they shared at the end? Tears man, so many tears.

But anyways, the two sit and talk about married life (when Gayle gets annoyed that he loses his ring she might call him the “B” word – Bozo – or makes him get up to squeeze the fresh OJ for breakfast that morning) and reminisce on the old times, something that Donna is incredibly thankful for. The next morning, she stops by his house with all of the things he dropped, along with a bag of oranges for Gayle’s juice. As she goes to leave, she smiles and calls Garry the b-word, buddy, and I melt into a puddle of tears as they hug it out.

True, loving, respectable friendship [NBC]
True, loving, respectable friendship [NBC]
 After the failed scavenger hunt, Ron and April gather where he reveals that he changes his locks every 16 days, and the key hadn’t worked since the second Tuesday that he gave it to her, but it was still a sign of his trust in her. As they laugh over the note she had left in the shoe shine stand to Andy about how much she liked him, it hits her like a ton of bricks and she remembered where the key was. “Woof woof” in the note stood for bark, and she had buried the key under a strong, stable tree that was always there when you needed it, just like Ron. Ron wishes her all the best in her future in DC and then reveals that the tree had dual meaning – he had buried a ton of gold under it himself once in the past.

Friendship is golden, everyone.

Golden Friends[NBC]
Golden Friends[NBC]

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