This week in Pawnee, things were exactly like they were in 1817. Except not at all. Unless everyone in 1817 had to battle with alternate reality versions of themselves to keep their jobs, and there was such a thing as a freegan.
Firstly, WHY didn’t anyone warn me that Billy Eichner was going to grace our various screens with his hilarity?! Why didn’t Julie Klausner call me personally to let me know? And how, exactly, does Eichner manage to be so awesome? This is my life’s most burning question. In his “Parks and Rec” incarnation, Eichner is he usual high-volume, hyperactive self – only this time, instead of being a professional Meryl Streep fanatic, he works in government. He’s Craig, Donna’s Eagletonian doppelganger, and he’s intensely passionate. Oh, you didn’t know Donna had a finace in Denver? Yeah, this show can’t lose Donna, ever – though I’m sure she’d still make cameo appearances on Tom’s Twitter feed.
April has a fascinating back and forth with her Eagletonian counterpart – the worst person she’s ever met – and falls completely in love with vapid Tynnyfer. She transforms into Tynnyfer’s mirror image of vocal fry in an act of conniving hatred. Or maybe repressed admiration in denial? No, probably just conniving hatred. And I guess we’re not going to talk about how she thoughtlessly bailed on vet school last week, ’cause it’s not like it’s a big deal for the writers to so abruptly end a plot arc that they spent half a season building.
Tom is faced with another Indian-Indianan who puts both Tom’s job and his fashion sense to shame. This would be sad, except the way he marvels at Rajiv’s ability to spot shoulder pads is more with respect than frustration. But his true doppelganger this week is an automated computer software that is everything Tom is not: Reliable, punctual, hands-off. Tom’s plan to fight back involves doing no real work. Instead it’s all about re-branding. Which, coincidentally, is totally on-brand for Tom. But… regardless of name – E.R.I.C. or T.O.M. – doesn’t a computer still make his position redundant? This left me a tad confused.
Ron is lucky enough to find complete and utter peace with his doppelganger at first. The result? A lot of quiet, satisfied looks and full, rich moustaches all ’round. Until he realizes his alternate Ron is a Morrissey-quoting freegan who wears sandals and wants Pawnee to embrace community living. The back and forth between these two is a little stark and heavy-handed. It sounds like the writers just Googled antonyms for all of Ron Swanson’s character attributes and wrote the resulting list into a tanned, moustachioed yogi. Funny, yes. But super creative and clever? Not so much.
Meanwhile, through all this alter ego battling, Ben and Chris make an adorable power couple playing Good Cop/Bad Cop with the members of the former Eagletonian government. Party hats, yay! You suck, boo. It’s an emotional roller coaster with two scoops of Really Cute Dudes With Respectable Haircuts. I want to go there. But can I keep my party hat? I’m going to miss Chris Traeger and how enthusiastically he embraces Ben’s nerdy, buttoned-up, calculator-loving side. Leslie definitely lets him be a nerd, but only Chris encourages Ben’s inner auditor. Will Chris make sure Leslie takes care of Dr. Buttons when he’s gone?
And coming in last place in the excitement category this week, Anne and Chris break the news to Leslie and Ben that audiences have known for weeks: they’re getting’ gone. As expected, Leslie’s bummed, but doesn’t seem to want to deal with it, even when pictures of shirtless Joe Biden are involved! You can really tell she’s heartbroken by this treachery. But somehow, this confrontation that we’ve been expecting for the past month..? It didn’t end up being dramatic. Yes, there were waffles. But no tears. No nuclear overreactions. No temper tantrums. I was a little surprised. Either it signals some emotional growth in Leslie or it’s a sign that the writers are just as bored of Anne as audiences are. Like, “Yawn, let’s get this over with.” Hence no drama – drama takes time to resolve.
So, what did you think of this week’s episode? Do you know anyone named Alonzo? What’s your favourite song about industrialized beef consumption? Are you ready to say goodbye to Chris and Anne? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!
Hannah McIlveen is a freelance graphic designer and TV-obsessed writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up riding horses and reading Roald Dahl books, got an art degree, and then spent the next several years moving around the country and watching television. Her greatest goals in life are to write good stuff, produce a web series, build a house with her husband, and have six cats at once. Hannah has contributed to BitchMagazine.org and is a staff blogger for the soon-to-launch TeenSized.com. She also writes her own daily blog, Click Watch Write. Hannah can be accosted on Twitter @ClickWatchWrite.