Parks and Recommendations: The Best Episodes
Allie Tollaksen | Wednesday, February 25, 2015
If you’re already a fan of Pawnee’s finest government department, you probably know that “Parks and Recreation” aired its series finale last night. It’s been difficult to process the fact that Leslie Knope and the rest of the Parks Department won’t be part of my life forever, even if the show has had some incredible season finales and happy endings along the way.
If you’re late to the “Parks and Rec” train, or if you, like me, just need to get a large dose of the show to lighten your post-finale blues, here are my recommendations for prime Pawnee memories.
- Season 2, Episode 3: “Beauty Pageant” — I have to admit that in the early seasons of the show, Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate was almost jarringly deadpan. “Beauty Pageant” was the episode that sold me on April as she competes for Miss Pawnee and is brilliantly unenthused.
- Season 2, Episode 10: “Hunting Trip” — When the group goes hunting, the episode turns into a “Who Shot Ron?” mystery. Ron and Leslie’s relationship is beautiful to watch in this episode, and Donna (and her beloved Mercedes) get some overdue screen time.
- Season 3, Episode 2: “Flu Season” — The experience of having the flu has never been portrayed better than when Leslie deliriously breaks out of the hospital to give a presentation. This episode also gets bonus points for a perfect “Quantum Leap” reference.
- Season 3, Episode 13: “The Fight” — When Tom pushes his “Snake Juice” liquor on the group, things get entirely out of hand. I could watch the interviews of the very drunk characters on a loop forever — watching drunk-Ron feels like watching a unicorn.
- Season 3, Episode 16: “Li’l Sebastian” — Li’l Sebastian is not only a special figure in Pawnee, but also here at Notre Dame, where the miniature horse gets an honorary degree in this episode. This tribute episode is packed with recurring jokes and ridiculous gags, featuring Tom’s great tribute video to the horse.
- Season 4, Episode 11: “The Comeback Kid” — The ongoing theme of Ben Wyatt’s lame interests is taken to a whole new level in “The Comeback Kid” when an unemployed Ben takes up claymation.
- Season 5, Episode 16: “Bailout” – While the main plot in “Bailout” features a great guest spot by Jason Schwartzmann, the episode made the list because it features Mona-Lisa Saperstein’s very first appearance. Comedian Jenny Slate as Mona-Lisa, twin sister of the hilarious and horrible Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz), makes a beautifully insufferable entrance onto the show.
- Season 5, Episode 18: “Animal Control” — When Chris takes issue with the Animal Control employees, we get another chance to see Brett and Harris, the two stoners in charge of Pawnee’s pests. Harris is played by “Parks and Rec” writer Harris Wittels, who died last week, and the episode is worth watching just to admire how funny he was.
- Season 6, Episode 4: “Doppelgangers” — Season 6 brings the merger of rival towns Pawnee and Eagleton. “Dopplegangers” introduces us to Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner), who immediately establishes himself an anxious, furious and wonderfully quotable character.
- Season 6, Episode 19: “Flu Season 2” — Craig is just as quotable in a sommelier competition, but the show is stolen by Ben and Leslie, who — though apart for most episode — are heart-achingly delightful. The episode gets bonus points for a cameo from Bo Burnham.