So is he a little pony or midget hoarse
[9.1/10] A great way to end the Harvest Festival arc of Parks and Rec, one which paid tremendous dividends for the show. There are, as usual, so many great stories here, all of which come together in a fantastic way.
The main story is “The Curse,” and it’s a thrill for any King of the Hill fan to see Jonathan Joss doing his thing here. The concept that Leslie has planned for everything, to where no plot obstacle can stop or stymie the Harvest Festival, only for something as outlandish as a media-stoked Wamapoke curse to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings is a great exercise in contrasting Leslie’s nose-to-the-grindstone preparedness with typical Pawnee lunacy.
Joss does a great job as Ken Hotate, and the gags about Matchbox 20, his subtitled and nonsensical “curse removal” ritual, and lines with lines like “A local tribe making a deal with the government, what could go wrong” find lots of great comedy amid the media hoopla over the curse. That, combined with the generator issue (which is a tightly-written way to balance “the curse” and the media frenzy as an explanation) show how Leslie overcomes whatever’s thrown at her.
At the same time, it adds some nice character development for Ben. Him overcoming his Ice Town fiasco and his own sense of failure is a brief but potent theme here, and grounds the whole curse thing in something personal. The fact that Ken Hotate “de-curses” him too as part of his overcoming it is a nice comic touch.
The B-stories are pretty good as well. My favorite of them is, once again, April and Andy’s. When April says “I love you” and Andrew responds, “Dude, shut up! Awesome sauce!” and goes for a high five, it’s the perfect scene that’s true to both of them. There’s great emotional subtext, with the normally placid April breaking through to express deep emotion, and her being hurt and angry when this major gesture from her isn’t returned in kind. Andy, for his part, continues to just be a big oblivious puppy, who is sweet and goofy as ever in his quest to figure out what’s bothering his girlfriend and find Li’l Sebastian.
That leads to the other most memorable part of “Harvest Festival” – the introduction of Li’l Sebastian. I love love love the fact that Ben just doesn’t get it, and the rest of Pawnee is just enraptured by this “mini-horse” (even, and especially Ron). It nicely captures the sort of town attraction by acclimation that baffles outsiders. And the quest to find him, including the ferris wheel has plenty of laughs.
I’m less enamored by Tom losing Li’l Sebastian and blaming it all on Jerry. I go back and forth on the Jerry-bashing stuff. Sometimes it’s amusing in small doses, but sometimes it just becomes cruel and a little too harsh to be funny.
Thankfully, it leads to a great moment in the episode where everyone’s stuck on the ferris wheel and Ron basically tells everyone what their conflicts are and to get over them, in that oh so paternal demeanor he can put on, essentially resolving all the B-stories. The way he tells April that Andy clearly loves her and that she’s being a child is an especially nice touch, because despite the tough love, it teases out how Andy’s feelings for April are clear, even if they’re expressed in a characteristically silly way. Andy’s response that he does love her, “that’s what makes the sauce so awesome” is the perfect button.
The only weak part of the episode, once again, is Ann trying to get over Chris, this time by giving into “using and abusing” a random meathead who comes into the med tent. But Donna’s sarcastic quips liven it up a little, and it’s a thankfully minor part of the proceedings
Overall, it’s a great climax to the first half of Season 3, that gives everyone something to do, develops Ben and Leslie independently and together, and could have made for a great series finale if it had come to that.