How is Ron alive if he doesn't eat vegetables?
[8.1/10] One of the most difficult things in the world is to achieve your dream, to be where you always wanted to be, and feel like everyone still sees you as small potatoes. It makes you feel like that thing you worked so hard for maybe wasn’t worth it, that you’re deluded about how much, if anything, you’ve accomplished.
That’s what Leslie goes through when she visits Ben in Washington D.C., and it’s a nice way for the show to reposition itself after the drama and excitement of Season 4’s campaign arc. When Leslie goes to D.C. and meets the people Ben is rubbing elbows with she sees people younger than her, taller than her, and more accomplished than her, who don’t even know which Pawnee she’s from. She gets all ginned up for her meeting at the Department of the Interior, only to be brushed aside and have the proposal she worked so hard on placed in a giant pile of them, where, again, nobody knows which Pawnee she’s from.
We’re not used to seeing Leslie this insecure and defeated. Her self-effacing face-to-face with Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe is a sign that she’s so dejected by this that she can’t even enjoy meeting folks from “Leslie’s Awesome Women List.” (And it leads to a great bit of comedy with John McCain too!).
But Leslie gets some encouragement from, of all people, Andy (whose attempted use of the word amalgam is hilarious). Andy may not know much, but he knows how kickass Leslie is, and both he and Ben believe in her. That’s enough to get Leslie back to her old self, ready not to have to wait for anyone else to help, but working on the big project – cleaning up a local park – all by herself.
The Leslie-Andy pairing is one we don’t get enough on the show, not only because it leads to sweet moments like that, but because there’s a teacher and student vibe to these two outsized characters, and it leads to a lot of laughs, like Andy throwing Leslie’s book away or Leslie trying to prevent him from going all National Treasure on a chewed up piece of gum.
As for the B-story, there’s a good amount of comedy from Ron being forced to host an employee appreciation barbecue and getting pissy because he’s such a stickler for how he believes barbecues should go. Chris’s speech to him about needing to lead the department if he’s going to stay where he is is a great one, and the end, where Ron does serve everyone barbecue, and compromises to include corn, is a nice way of illustrating that he’s willing to make sacrifices of his own personal beliefs in service of others as part of this job.
And god help me, I even liked the C-story. Ann and Chris pretending to be together just to spite Donna and all the people who were smug about them failing seems like a jab directed at fans like me and critics who thought their storyline was dumb. But rest assured, we can take it, and showing Chris and Ann squabbling constantly while trying to keep up the ruse was the funniest they’ve been together.Overall, it’s a great way to kick off Season 5, with Leslie feeling belittled but rising up, Ron learning to compromise his principled stances a little, and Ann and Tom being resolved in about the best way possible.