PARKS AND RECREATION 4.01 ‘I’m Leslie Knope’

Leslie's political ambitions may destroy her relationship with Ben. Meanwhile, Andy pursues his dreams and Ron goes fishing... with a shotgun.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "I'm Leslie Knope"

Writer: Dan Goor

Director: Troy Miller

The last time viewers were in Pawnee, Leslie (Amy Poehler) finally got the opportunity that she wanted more than anything: the chance to run for public office. The catch was that her political backers would only support her bid if she was scandal-free. And that meant dumping her new boyfriend, Ben (Adam Scott); who is technically one of her bosses.  

It seems that the writers of "Parks and Recreation" are determined to keep Leslie and Ben apart as long as they can. But Leslie herself can't quite bring herself to end things with Ben because she's too happy with him. Every time she tries to break it off, he pulls her back in.

The intriguing thing about Leslie's story is that her grand ambitions are directly opposed to what she wants in her heart. Either way, she has to give up her love or her dreams. Leslie also hilariously shows off her homemade action figure Geraldine Ferraro; which is just a Popsicle stick with a black and white photo of Ferraro's head and shoulders on it.

Finally overcome by the weight of her decision, Leslie abandons Ben at a restaurant and flees into the woods where her boss, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) was already in hiding from his first ex-wife, Tammy (Patricia Clarkson). And Ron being Ron, he doesn't want to talk about his problems or Leslie's. Instead, he suggests that they go fishing… with shotguns. It's a little weird how Ron has unwillingly become the moral center at the heart of the show. He doesn't particularly like other people but he tends to give really solid advice.

Of course, once Leslie gets back to town and sees Ben, she realizes that he was ahead of her all along. Ben breaks up with her in the most romantic way possible by presenting her with a "Knope 2012" campaign button. From Ben's description, it's a shame we didn't get to see Leslie give a campaign speech in her sleep. Ben proves to be a keeper by stepping aside so gracefully; which does keep the hope of reunion with Leslie alive. It was fairly obvious to anyone with eyes that she was the entire reason he stayed in Pawnee to begin with.

Ben also had an amusing cameo in the episode's subplot as he and Chris (Rob Lowe) fired a man for texting  picture of his penis to all of the city's employees. That sequence worked because the man not only wasn't sorry or remorseful, he didn't even understand why anyone would be offended! And the lovely Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) made the mistake of diagnosing the man's penis with "mumps;" which causes the rest of the male employees to constantly send her pics of their penises as well.

Jones' mortified expression every time her phone rang or beeped was very amusing. She and Chris also seem to be on better terms this year, even if the latest incident was completely his fault.

In the C plot, Tom (Aziz Ansari) constantly drops by the office to show off items with the name of his "multinational entertainment company" printed on them and he tries to recruit Andy (Chris Pratt) as an employee. But even Andy is smart enough to know that Tom's dream isn't his dream. He just doesn't know what his dream is beyond becoming a rock star.  His wife, April (Aubrey Plaza) is actually very sweet and supportive in her own apathetic way as she listens to Andy try to think his way out of a potentially life changing dilemma.

At some point Tom is probably going to come crawling back to the Parks department for a job, because his company doesn't seem to actually do anything and it's bound to run out of money eventually. Tom is probably the least self-aware character on the series, which is probably why he works better in small doses. Everyone on this series is ridiculous to a certain extent. Tom is just… more so.

By the end, Andy joins the Parks office as Leslie's new assistant and Leslie officially announces her candidacy for city counsel with all of her friends and employees supporting her. It's a good direction for her character and it makes me wonder how the series will change if she actually does win.

Because I can't picture Leslie Knope losing to anyone. Can you?

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.