Parks and Recreation Season 5 Review “Partridge”

Parks and Recreation Season 5 Episode 16 Partridge (7)

About a month and a half ago, Parks and Recreation aired “Ben and Leslie”. The episode was intended as a season (and possibly series) finale. It was as close to flawless piece of television that beautifully tied together all of the parts of this wonderful tapestry Mike Schur and company have created. When the episode turned into another brilliant episode in a very amusing season, many television people I respect began to wonder where Parks and Recreation was going to go now. The episode was so well-crafted, and did such a great job putting an exclamation point on the series, they wondered if the show had anywhere else fruitful it could go. Episodes like tonight certainly make those people sound smart.

Being in the tank for Parks and Recreation, I’ve defended it against most of the “it’s run its course” arguments. The show remains hysterical at many moments, but what set this show apart was its ability to tell a story. The show was just as effective with plot and character development as it was with its comedic moments. Now, the show seems like its trying to hit certain high points, but it doesn’t take the time to properly develop them. In particular, the arc featuring Ann and Chris and their decision to raise a child. In the beginning of this story, I was happy to give Ann Perkins something to actually chew on, but the story seems to be moving at a breakneck pace when it doesn’t really need to move that fast. The gone from being donor and recipient to co-parents in what feels like a pretty short period of time. It’s not wrong to assume that Chris would want to be a part of the child’s life, but the discussion about it was never had.

Similarly, the return of Ben to his hometown is a massive deal considering how much mileage the show has gotten out of his teenage mayor bit. Instead, Ben gets scuttled off to the sidelines with a kidney stone (in admittedly humorous fashion thanks to some painkillers), and Leslie takes center stage. Leslie front and center is never a bad thing, but the Ice Town debacle was Ben’s thing. He’s suffered through it and learned to live with the consequences. To have him play a minor role in his hometown return seemed like an odd choice.

The one part of the episode that did really click was the Swanson-Jamm showdown. I know people have had their fill of Councilman Jamm, but he’s a natural enemy to the Parks and Recreation gang, so why not continue to use him. Here, his presence merely allows Ron Swanson to humorously discuss issues like privacy, how many pounds of gold he has, and skim milk (“Skim milk is just water lying about being milk”). Jamm is certainly grating at times, but he serves his purpose well. Plus, a montage of Ron Swanson wanting to punch someone in the face will always be welcome.

What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode?