Parks and Recreation S7 E7, “Donna and Joe”

At the wedding, the two are so awkward and uncomfortable that even Ron notices. He decides to intervene one last time, and this time he rights everything. Lucy and Tom finally lay their feelings out and say exactly what they mean. Even though Tom’s the only one who really bares his soul in words, judging by Lucy’s expression as she hears him talk, she’s all in, too.

Parks and RecreationBen and Leslie decide to stay at a hotel in Pawnee for the wedding, taking their first night away from the triplets, apparently. The triplets certainly do seem to be a handful, though I’d expect nothing less from the spawn of Leslie Knope. While the three toddlers run around the house and cause havoc, Ben and Leslie talk to their nanny, Roz, played by Rachel Dratch, one of Amy Poehler’s former SNL co-stars.

When Ben and Leslie are packing for the night in their bedroom (and almost slipping in diapers out of habit), they get a call from Jen Barkley. If you don’t remember, Jen Barkley is the political consultant that Bobby Newport brought on for his City Council campaign. She then gave Ben a job in D.C. for a summer and even gave Leslie a brief hour of consultation at the end of Leslie’s term on City Council. Apparently, she’s been calling to ask Leslie to consider running for state senate or Congress, jobs which Leslie just isn’t interested in because she already has her dream job.

Parks and RecreationUnfortunately, ignoring Jen’s calls doesn’t work, because the woman shows up at their door minutes later. After a few moments of complete confusion over the mere idea of children, she gets down to business. Their district’s Congressional incumbent is a moron “even by Washington standards.” Jen wants someone to run against him for his seat in the House of Representatives. And she wants Ben. He’s smart, he qualified, he’s economically-minded, and she thinks he’d be perfect for the job.

Ben is hesitant, thinking that their lives are too chaotic for a campaign. Their children do seem to be more destructive than any other three-year-olds I’ve ever met, so he may have a point. But Leslie is confident in her husband, so she suggests that he goes through the night pretending that he’s running for Congress.

The couple heads off to the rehearsal dinner at Tom’s Bistro and Ben starts talking to everyone he can find, hoping to hone his meet and greet skills. Despite his not-so-great history of human interaction (remember the human disaster incident before the harvest festival or how he acts any time there’s a police officer around?), Ben is perfectly charming. You can almost see the campaign posters being designed in Leslie’s head.

Parks and RecreationTurns out that some of Ben’s charm comes from alcohol. He and Leslie are both much worse at holding their alcohol since becoming parents and got drunk fast. Ben decides to make a toast for the happy couple. This was the moment that I wanted to bury my head in my pillows and never come back, so I’ll save anyone else who gets as uncomfortable as I do when characters on TV shows embarrass themselves: Ben actually doesn’t make a fool of himself. Sure it’s pretty obvious that he’s had a drink or two and his dance moves leave a lot of room for improvement, but he does make a sweet (and slightly slurred) speech about how awesome married life is. I think he’s ready for Congress.

Too bad he’s not ready for a hangover. The next morning, Ben and Leslie awake with pounding headaches and scattered memories of the night before. When they check their phones, they learn just what happened. Ben called Jen to tell her he’d like to run for the House, so now the campaign ad is running. And Leslie called 867-5309. One hundred times.

They meet with Jen for a quick breakfast at J.J.’s before the wedding to see if there’s anything they can do about the ad, since Ben wasn’t really in a proper condition to make any sort of decision last night. But the ad is out there, and people think Ben is running. The only options Ben really has are to run or to bail.

Parks and RecreationJust outside the reception hall, Leslie and Ben are confronted by a group of reporters. Ben is initially flustered, but quickly finds his stride and pulls out an impromptu Leslie Knope quality speech. It’s official. He’s running for office.

When he and Leslie announce it to their table at the reception, everyone is immediately excited and supportive. After a quick toast to Ben, to Donna and Joe, and to Tom (because why not), April notices something strange… one of the place cards is for Garry. Who is Garry?

“I think that’s supposed to be me,” Terry (real name Garry) answers with a shrug.

And that was the moment when everything changed. April and Andy laugh and decide that that should be his new name. Garry looks delighted, and then we see Donna wink at him, like she’d planned that all along.

Final Thoughts:

I really wish we could have seen the friendship between Donna and April happen on screen a bit more. Obviously most of the foundation of it is from earlier seasons and the time jump, but we’ve barely seen the two together this season. Personally, I think Donna and April going out would be hilarious and eccentric.

We saw Garry’s unbelievably hot wife (I think we’re calling him Garry now). We saw Tom’s girlfriend. We saw everyone’s partners – except Ron’s. Where is Diane and where has she been hiding all season?

What were Ben and Leslie’s matching “Willy Wonky and the Policy Factor” tee-shirts? I don’t remember them being mentioned before, so maybe they’ll come up later this season?

This episode, while not entirely about Donna, just shows how much has changed since season one of Parks and Rec. Back then, Donna and Jerry were just two other people in the office, and I didn’t really pay that much attention to them. But they fought hard and long to earn places in my heart, and seeing Donna get married and get the recognition she deserved was fantastic. Plus, the connection between her and Garry from the time when they were just the two other parks employees is strong, if the name change means anything.

Quotable Moments:

“You are a wonderful nanny. You’re tough, and strong, and you’re an excellent caretaker for our children. I love you more than Ben. I do. If Ben left me, I would be sad, but I would get through it. But if you left me, I would never recover.” – Leslie, showing where her true loyalties lie

“It’s not that chaotic”
“All three of them just bumped into each other and broke everything you own”
– 
Ben and Roz, showing just how calm and easy it is to have three three-year-olds on the loose

“The Meagles are weird. The words that they say sound passive but seem aggressive. I feel like there should be a term for that, like ‘nicey-meaney.’” – Andy might have just invented a completely new concept

“And if I won, I’d be a Congressman. Or woman – you know, equal rights. No, that doesn’t apply.” – Ben Wyatt

“I feel so good and condifent. Con- I feel Condifent.” – an incredibly confident and drunk Ben

“Oh, you guys are going to fit in so great in Washington. Most of Congress is drunk all the time.” – Jen Barkley, speaking the cold, hard truth

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