Parks and Recreation 7.07: “Donna and Joe” Review

The Meagle Motto

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

“Use him, abuse him, lose him. That’s the Meagle motto.”

This time, however, Donna decided to try and keep him. We haven’t known Joe for too long, but within the short amount of time he’s spent in Pawnee, he’s certainly made his  mark as a talented man who was worthy enough of the great and amazing Donna Meagle. Donna has always been a sort of enigma on the show and despite knowing so much about her, there’s always been a sense of mystery to her. It’s impressive that the writers and Retta have managed to imbue such a sense of catharsis into Donna so despite knowing a ton about her, we’re drawn to this complex character and her small character beats that have become so endearing. Donna and Joe, despite being centered around the titular marriage, is one of those Parks and Recreation episodes that uses its colorful ensemble to the best of their ability. As a result, despite bursting at the seams, the episode never implodes upon itself and that in and of itself is an achievement. As per usual, the jokes are hilarious but it’s the small character moments that truly endear this story to our hearts as the end comes closer and closer.

The three-year leap certainly afforded Parks and Rec with the opportunity to present the changes within our characters in a seamless manner and the show as expected did so with flying colors. Yet at no moment did it forget those moments that led to those changes nor the impact they had. For Ron, the most recent life-altering moment he had was when he confessed to Leslie that he wanted a job from her and more so that he wanted his friends back into his life. Coming from anybody, that may not be the greatest declaration of friendship but this is Ron Freakin’ Swanson. The mere mention of his name causes tremors of fear to arise, or something close to that anyhow. In the best episode of the series, Leslie and Ron, Ron entered into a new phase of his existence where it became okay for him to become an integral part within the lives of his friends. So when the relationship between Tom and Lucy begins to rock a bit this evening because of his error, he genuinely puts in effort multiple times to bring them back together. And yes, there is no better sight in the world than Ron declaring that he might have missed the food, but gosh darn it if he wasn’t going to properly honor the expression of romantic love.

Ben might have just gotten a sudden burst of that “life-changes-in-great-leaps” moment. Jennifer Barkley, dazzled at her amazing bachelorette life, approaches Ben about running for Congress. Their district’s Congressman is stepping down and as far as she’s concerned, he’s the best man for the job. Ben is baffled and excited at the same time, but Leslie is beyond ecstatic at the opportunity. Leslie then devises a plan for him to really gage how he feels about the opportunity and how best he can take advantage of it: pretend to be a congressman for one day and then the next day, don’t. As it is, the well-thought-out plan gets derailed by April’s favorite tool to ignore people: alcohol. Ben and Leslie wake up in the morning to find out that Ben’s Congressional bid is all over the Internet, courtesy of his voicemails to Barkley that included remarkably specific policy positions. Ben is great at the smalltalk and realpolitik, but it is here that for the first time he’s truly able to get over the Ice Town fiasco in front of the media. Confidently, he announces that he is Ben Wyatt and he is running for Congress. As Leslie rightly notes, that was some hot stuff.

Donna and Joe had a plethora of little moments that went right to our heart, bits and pieces reserved for everyone, including Craig (whose trigger words include every possible thing about weddings and his own name). April as Donna’s Maid of Honor was perfect, managing Donna’s incredibly dramatic family up until the moment that Donna says she missed her family drama. Without a moment to waste, April brings in Donna’s devious little brother, LeVondrius. Now that’s a friend. Andy does his best bits as the heartfelt center of the show, providing hilarious comfort to a crying Ginuwine when even the musical star can’t handle his family anymore. Even though Ron is now emotional, gosh darn it if he doesn’t bring his own tri-tip to be cooked. Ben’s toast was just the right amount of goofiness and heartfelt. Jen’s comment about Congress being drunk about half the time after Ben leaves her all those voicemails sounds about right. Donna’s speech about Leslie and April inspire her made me tear up. But in all earnestness, the best moment of the night belongs to Donna. Her trick with the nameplates was the best gift she could have ever given to now Garry, getting everyone around the table to actually call him by his real name. The smile the two friends share is legitimately one of the most heartfelt and sweet things I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Oh, Parks and Rec, you are making it very difficult to say goodbye.

Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+The closest we’re going to get to Ron’s religious beliefs: “Despite my feelings about organized religion, those bastards knew how to construct an edifice.”

+Rachel Dratch as the nanny Roz was a delight

+“Control yourself, Gergiches!”

+“What’s that horrible sound?”; “Children!”

+“Your life is gross, my life is amazing.”

+“It’s the House of Representatives. I think you might be overqualified.”

+Leslie’s dream job for Ben: “Royal Archduke Sultan Emperor of All Habitable Lands on Earth.” Sounds pretty great and just about right.

+Nope, an interesting and important conversation with Garry just involves too much effort

+“Foot-in-mouth disorder.”

+“You are both acting like weirdos.”

+“You have never been neutral on anything.”

Magnificent

10/10

Title: Donna & Joe

Written By: Aisha Muharrar

Directed By: Ken Whittingham

Image Courtesy: NBC

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