Parks and Recreation – “Partridge”
“Partridge” is an episode of missed opportunities. It’s a missed opportunity to give Ben a chance at redemption. It’s a missed opportunity to give Ron an actual challenge. It’s a missed opportunity for Ann and Chris to have an actual conversation about why they’re giving their coupling – albeit completely non-romantic, for now at least – another try. But before any of these issues have a chance to evolve into something more than mild inconveniences, they’re resolved just as quickly as they show up.
Before Ben has the chance to be given a key to Partridge, Minnesota, the city that he once almost drove into the ground, he is suddenly is taken down by a crippling case of kidney stones. (Side note: having recently seen my father get through his own case of kidney stone, I can attest that Ben is in no way exaggerating the pain that accompanies those little buggers.) This results in Ben being doped up on enough morphine to transform into a complete mess. Drugged-up Ben is the highlight of the episode and Scott takes complete advantage of the opportunity to play against his usual, reserved self. While Leslie’s own battle with state-altering medication was a fun sight to behold in “The Flu,” Ben’s nonsensical ramblings and over-the-top displays of emotion is
However, while we saw Leslie overcome her illness is spectacular fashion in “The Flu,” in “Partridge” we have to settle for Ben watching dopily on the sidelines as Leslie steps up and takes the brunt of the humiliation that was reserved for him. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Leslie fighting for Ben, further cementing their devotion to one another. And Leslie losing her cool as she defends her husband (it’s still weird hearing and writing that) is nothing but sweet, as is Leslie and Ben’s final scene in the park, when Ben acknowledges that Pawnee is his home now (and that Leslie is “the best wife in the world”). But ultimately it’s also disappointing that we weren’t able to see Ben rise to the occasion just as Leslie did in “The Flu.” After last season’s campaign arc we saw just how capable Ben is, and “Partridge” offered a chance to showcase those abilities once more.
The same goes for Ron’s sideplot of being sued by Jamm, who claims that Ron punching him in the face has led to “$46 million [in] psychological damages.” Although April, Andy, and Tom are all ready to defend Ron, their less than truthful testimony does not sit right with Ron, who is unwilling to betray his principles in order to benefit himself. When the truth comes out that Ron has been wishing physical harm on Jamm for a long time, Jamm smugly believes himself to have a case. But before this has a chance to become a longer arc for Ron, wherein he is finally given a real test and goes toe-to-toe with Jamm in a battle of wits, the story is resolved when April, Andy, and Tom call Jamm out on his own lies. Although it’s nice to see the three show their devotion to Ron, it’s all wrapped up too quickly and neatly.
Lastly we have Ann and Chris, whose story arc has questionable origins. When Ann was shopping around for a sperm donor, never once did she express a wish to have the man be anything more than just a donor. Even in her conversations with Chris the topic of him actually helping to raise the child never came up, so it’s more than a little weird that Chris suddenly has become so involved with that aspect and that it has become a major plot line for the two. So imagine my surprise when their sideplot this week doesn’t involve talking about Chris’s confusion, but rather about how compatible they would be as parents. Still, I can’t do anything but smile when Chris puts away any doubts Ann may have about their abilities to be parents. Because Chris’s message is the same one the Parks and Rec holds near and dear, that even though all these characters are so vastly different from one another, that they so sharply contrast each other, they still somehow manage to mesh so well together.
And that’s the story for the episode too. Even though the constituent parts making up “Partridge” don’t quite work, there are still enough heart-warming character moments to keep everything from falling apart.
- I don’t care for Jamm. Not because he is a bad person, but because the character itself is bad: he’s too easy a villain for the show and quite frankly hasn’t proven to be a worthy adversary. And even considering the state of politics in Pawnee, this man should no longer be in office.
- I have to disagree with Leslie, Fred the Sled is most certainly not a stupid mascot.
- J.K. Simmons makes a fun guest appearance as Mayor Stice. I wish he had more of a back-and-forth with Leslie.
- “Yeah, lying is all I know. It’s how I was able to scrape by on the streets of Bombay, make it on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and get reunited with the love of my life. Latika!”
- “That’s right, I love telling the truth. Case in point: sometimes when I blow my nose, I get a boner. I don’t know why. It just happens. Truth bomb.”
- “I’m feeding your eagle, he’s starving.”
“It’s bronze, babe.”
“The eagle…we should go.”