‘Parks & Recreation’ recap: Episode 8, ‘Smallest Park’
Two not-so-big projects are afoot in the P&R department – 1. Chris has tasked Tom and Jerry to decide on a new font for the P&R logo, and 2. Leslie and Ben are working on the smallest park in Indiana (which comes in at .00003 miles). Meanwhile, Andy has decided to enroll in college, with some guidance from April and Ron.
Tom starts his new font project by demoting Jerry from being to his #2 man to his #3 (with no one else as #2) and then immediately begins brainstorming ways to give the P&R department a sexy new vibe, because even though his new job is technically his old job, Tom can’t and won’t stop dreaming big. After rolling his eyes through Jerry’s font presentation (Comic sans, Jerry? Really?) Tom does his own mock ups, with the new font being a direct rip-off of “The Sopranos” logo, and because hey why not, a mock of a new community center that looks like an Apple store, and an idea for a new reality show starring the Pawnee Park Rangers. Jerry quickly shoots him down reminding Tom that dreaming big is what got him in trouble with Entertainment 7wenty. During a heart-to-heart about just doing your job and nothing more, Jerry shows Tom his work ID, the same one he’s had since he first started in the P&R department 30 years ago. Tom races out of the office and throws together a pitch for a new logo that is actually a recreation of the one from Jerry’s ancient work ID. Tom pitches the retro logo to Chris, saying that it will make people nostalgic and want to bring their own kids to the park. Chris says that it’s literally the best idea anyone has ever had and while Tom clearly adores the praise, he’s quick to say that most of the credit should go to his #4 man, Jerry, who is delighted to be included.
Andy decides to take a college course—while April is telling him to take something simple that he knows he can ace, Ron encourages him to take broaden his horizons. (Ron also says that Andy is one of the very few coworkers he has that he doesn’t actively root against, and then apologizes for getting so sappy). Andy starts out with Guitar for Beginners, but finds himself quickly bored, and goes to Introduction to Lasers, but has one of the most significant bummers of his lifetime when he realizes there will be no actual lasers to play with. Andy then randomly chooses Introduction to Women’s Studies, which he, Ron, and April all think is fantastic. He goes to the registrar to get “1 ticket for women” (aka, register for the class) and realizes he needs nearly $1,000 to enroll. Rather than let April’s parents pay for it, or start a life of drug dealing, he takes on a second job, back at the shoe shine stand. Ron finds him and April there, trying to sell candy bars for $50 (Ron was hunting April down because 2 phone calls had gotten through to him, unimpeded) and Ron graciously offers to pay for Andy’s college, in the guise of a scholarship. After all, when Ron buried all of that gold in his yard, he promised himself he would never be greedy with it.
Star-crossed lovers Leslie and Ben are thrown together again while working on the latest parks project/tourist attraction, the smallest park in Indiana, in a space that used to house old phone booths. Chris is endlessly impressed with how good of a team Leslie and Ben are, and makes it clear that he thinks they should work together all of the time. Ben, however, plans on asking Chris to take him off of all P&R projects after the smallest park is finished, because spending time with Leslie still depresses him. Leslie refuses to accept this and tries to come up with ways to drag out the project for as long as possible, an idea she runs past Ann, but when Ann sensibly tries to discourage her, Leslie just ignores her and charges on. After a meeting with residents doesn’t pan out with the kind of community rage she was counting on, Leslie begins handing out flyers that say the park is going set off fireworks at midnight every night and basically be a menace, which results in a protest around the park. Ben realizes what Leslie’s up to and the residents leave after he tells them it will just be a quiet patch of grass. He goes on to tell Chris he doesn’t want to work with Leslie anymore because she is a team of one who just does what she wants and steamrolls everyone else. Chris, sad at all of the negative words, reluctantly agrees with Ben’s wishes as Leslie stands there, crushed by the power of her own steamrolling.
Leslie runs back to Ann, who to Leslie’s surprise agrees with Ben—saying that Leslie does what she wants, ignores what other people want, and only hears what she wants to hear. Leslie finally understands that she needs to respect Ben’s wishes and vows to hang up her steamroller roller and be more considerate. Convinced of Leslie’s genuine remorse and willingness to change, Ann goes to Ben and asks him to talk to Leslie, not only because Leslie is actually going to listen now, but because Ann is tired of the endless texts she gets from Leslie when Leslie and Ben aren’t talking.
Ben meets Leslie at the smallest park, where she offers him a seat on the parks’ lone bench, but only if he wants one. She goes on to say that she had decided what she wanted and didn’t listen to what he wanted when it wasn’t the same thing, and that if he doesn’t want to have any more contact with her, she understands. When Ben says it’s not that he wants to be away from Leslie, just that it’s for the best, Leslie jumps in with another option: they can just say screw it and be together, Chris’s rules and potential city council scandal be damned. Leslie says she knows how she feels and then asks Ben—who replies by walking the half step across the park and totally making out with her face. So, huzzah, Leslie and Ben are back together – but what kind of fall-out will there be from their scandalous, nerdy, love?