[4.4/10] Phwew, this was pretty rough. Really, the only thing this one had going for it was (a.) the April-Andy material, (b.) that Leslie turns herself in, and (c.) the first appearance of Barney the accountant! (I had no idea he shows up this early!)
But there’s a lot that doesn’t work in this one. While there’s something to the premise of Leslie using community center teachers wanting to keep their jobs to do odd jobs for her dinner party, it just doesn’t feel like something Leslie would do. Even when the motivation is understandable, like with Leslie wanting to impress the globe-trotting, worldly Justin, the way she goes about it makes Leslie feel rude and grating and gormless when the character works better as just a little naive a bit overzealous. It’s clear that the show was still shaking some of the Michael Scott rust of Leslie here (in fact, this episode has a certain “Dinner Party” vibe to it), and the episode is worse for it.
Nevermind taking advantage of the community center teachers, she’s rude to her friends, insensitive to Tom, and kind of mean to Chris by paying him to wait on his friends and ex girlfriend. I guess the point is that Leslie is so desperate to impress Justin that she sacrifices some principles and then learns that she went too far, but the payoff and repentance feel a little too late. Plus, the whole “who wouldn’t want to force your boyfriend, on the record, to say whether he liked your date” thing a kind of trite sitcom punchline that didn’t land with me.
Overall, a real stinker that could probably be skipped if it didn’t develop the Andy-April and Ron-Tom-Wendy stuff a bit.