[5.4/10] There’s some solid stuff here. I like the central throughline that Leslie is so starry-eyed about being with the movers and shakers of Pawnee and is disillusioned by the “rarified air” when she realizes that they’re all backstabbers and blackmailers. It’s the kind of “Leslie’s optimism runs aground on harsh reality” story that the show would come back to with more effectiveness in later seasons. And some of the humor is pretty good, from the nose-grabbing trio to the councilman who compliments Leslie and Ann for their “bravery” to Ron’s love of bacon-wrapped shrimp and devotion to “fact-based’ speeches.
But there’s also a lot about the episode that doesn’t quite work. The stuff with Leslie’s mom is a bit overdone, particularly in Leslie’s speech where all she takes from her mom’s advice is to do a speech consisting of nothing but mentioning their relationship and name-dropping the zoning board member she needs a favor from. The show’s still at the point where Leslie is largely incompetent, not just naive, and that still makes her seem off to me.
At the same time, the shtick with Tom and Mark picking up chicks at the bar didn’t do much for me. And the show hasn’t really earned the depth of the Leslie-Ann relationship to have them fight and reconcile like that and have it mean something. Leslie telling Ann that she is Andy’s third crutch is 100% true, but feels weird coming from this version of the character, a sort of realness and frankness that doesn’t really fit the characters or their relationship yet.
Overall, it’s watchable and paced better than the first three episodes of the series, but no great shakes.
At the moment, these episodes don't mean much other than getting to know the characters, particularly Leslie. It's very much like The Office, as I've said before which I love so I hope as I watch more, I get that kind of attachment to the characters I'm only really feeling toward Leslie at the moment.