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'Parks and Recreation' recap, The ladies love Ron Swanson

The latest episode of "Parks and Recreation" did so many things to make me happy. Let's make a list.

1.) Acknowledged the rare and beautiful thing that is Ron and Leslie's deep friendship that has not a trace of romance to it, despite the fact that they are of opposite gender and both heterosexual.
2.) Let Lucy Liu be a badass in the most subtle and wonderful of ways.
3.) Unleashed Megan Mullally in full-crazy mode.
4.) Not only acknowledged that the meanness toward Jerry is that, but had the characters acknowledge it and correct their behavior.
5.) Showcased finely crafted wooden furniture.

The main plot is that Ron has been nominated for a woodworking award for a chair he's made. Leslie congratulates him and invites herself to the awards ceremony even though Ron was planning on taking Diane as his date. Leslie is all, "Yay, I get to meet Diane" and basically butts in on their date.

At the awards banquet, Ron is giddy being surrounded by all his fellow woodworkers and has a total fangirl moment when seeing a man whose work he especially admires. It's adorable to see Ron Swanson not only giddy, but tongue-tied and bashful.

Before the awards start, our villain appears, in the form of Tammy, Ron's twice-ex-wife, as played by Nick Offerman's real-life wife Megan Mullally. She's like a cat with a mouse she can't leave alone. Leslie is freaking out, but Diane takes it all calmly, which seems to just infuriate Tammy more.

When Ron wins the award for his chair (yay!), Tammy does everything she can to distract him during her speech, including hitching up her dress to reveal to Ron her ladybits. As you might imagine, this does leave Ron a bit tongue-tied, so now we can hate Tammy for ruining one of the highlights of Ron's year.

After the ceremony is over, Leslie explains to Diane that she'll intercept Tammy so that Tammy can't hurt what Diane and Ron have going. Diane gets a great line about how she's a middle school vice-principal, so she's used to dealing with "hormonal psychopaths." What Diane is worried about is the relationship between Ron and Leslie. Leslie assures her that there never has been, nor will be, the slightest bit of romance in her relationship with Ron and anyway she's happily engaged to Ben.

Leslie still decides it will be she who gives Ron and Diane a break from Tammy and uses Ron's car to kidnap Tammy and keep her occupied while Diane and Ron go out for a post-awards celebration.

The post-awards celebration is Ron taking Diane to a jazz club, explaining that as close as he and Leslie are, there are still lots of things about him that Leslie doesn't know, including what she's about to see next. He then goes up on stage and reveals his Duke Silver alter ego. He dedicates his first song to "his Duchess" and the Duke fans are jealous and threatening to Diane. If they knew she was Xena, they'd step off quick.

Meanwhile, Tammy manages to get Leslie to stop the car and let her out. After a tussle in a dumpster over the keys, Tammy emerges victorious (score one for the librarians!) and takes off with Leslie in the trunk. Where she's discovered the next day after Tammy is pulled over by police for driving erratically. They call Ron, since it's his car, and when Ron asks about a passenger and the cop looks confused, Ron hears the muffled sounds from the trunk and lets Leslie out.

The rest of the Parks & Rec gang tells Ann they're planning on going out for the annual "Jerry dinner". Tom explains that all year long they put a dollar in a box every time they see Jerry do something stupid and then they take the money at the end of the year and treat themselves to dinner. Without Jerry. Ann rightly calls them on how mean this is and refuses to participate. She tries to get them to at least include Jerry in the dinner out, but I have to agree with the meanies that that would be even more mean.

On the way to Jerry Dinner, with Tom, Andy, and April in Donna's car, Donna has a change of heart and wants to bring Jerry out to dinner. When they get to Jerry's house they can see a full-on party in swing. And they see Ann, Chris, and Ben are at the party.  Feeling snubbed, they sneak up and start peeking in the windows.  Andy is drooling over the buffet, amazed that you can have such a thing inside your own house.

They attract Ann's attention, who shoos them to meet her over by the back door.  When they do, she explains that Jerry has this nice party every year and that they can't come in because they're mean to Jerry. After Donna points out that she was coming to get him to take him to dinner, Ann allows Donna into the house and tells the others they have to do something nice for Jerry to get into the party.

Meanwhile, Chris and Ben are talking about how much Chris's constant therapy seems to have helped him. And Ben meets Jerry's wife for the first time.  Ta-da: she's beautiful and nice (and played by Christie Brinkley!).  Ben can't wrap his head around how those two are a couple and Chris senses this and says, "No, there's no good explanation."

Outside, Tom has a realization that the "Jerry filter" he set up for all their emails (which sends all emails from Jerry straight to "spam") is why they didn't get their invitations to the Christmas party. And then they all start reading through the emails from Jerry that they never read before. They're personal, sweet and kind, and it's the moment they kind of realize that they've been jerks all this time. 

So, Tom ends up knocking on the door and giving Jerry the wad of money from the Jerry Dinner, explaining that every time one of them thought something mean, they put a dollar in the box. He tells Jerry it's to help cover the hospital costs from his heart attack earlier in the year. Jerry is nothing but nice accepting the money, and tells Tom he feels like the luckiest man in the world, and invites them all in.

And the last little bit of business is that Chris ran into Millicent and her new fiancee and managed to hold it together, giving further proof that the therapy is working.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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