'Parks and Recreation': Camp Pawnee-wanna, we hold you in our hearts


Image Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Irony alert: By and large, the employees of Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation department actually kind of hate the great outdoors. April feels like she can’t breathe when the air is too fresh; Tom needs creature comforts like a soft-serve machine and DJ Roomba (DJ Roomba!) just to survive; Ben doesn’t even know that the floor is called the ground when it’s outside. (Though wait, is Ben technically an employee of the Parks department yet? Better not think about that one too hard.) So when Leslie forces our favorite government drones to leave the cozy confines of City Hall for a local camping ground, nobody’s happy but her. Luckily, their misery makes for some excellent comedy.

At least they have a good reason to go on a retreat. Last episode’s Harvest Festival was more successful than anyone could have imagined—as City Manager Paul Iaresco informs us, over 80,000 people attended it. Does Pawnee even have 80,000 residents? Regardless, that means Leslie and company now have some serious dough to inject back into their town. The problem is that despite having filled at least 49 binders with ideas for small projects, Knope can’t think of something big to do with the money. (Leslie, despairing that she’ll never do anything great again, imagines what people will say about her: “What happened to her? What was her name? Kim? Anyway, she’s stupid and she’s dead now.”) She persuades her coworkers to trek into the woods with her so that they can brainstorm, free from the distractions of modern life. (Was Ron’s hunting lodge occupied, do you think?) Cue a shot of Tom’s tricked-out campsite, complete with the finest goofy gadgets SkyMall has to offer.

But alas, Tom’s been powering his appliances with the van’s battery, meaning that when everyone wants to throw in the towel and go home, they can’t. The group then treks to The Quiet Corn, a creepy B&B run by a woman who immediately enters the pantheon of brilliant Parks and Rec supporting characters: Elsa Clack. Elsa, who gives off a serious Mrs. Bates vibe, likes her guests to be awake between 5:30 and 6:15 AM, her rooms to be filled with cats, and her muffins to be German. Ben informs us that she’s dead now during the episode’s coda, which is really a shame; I would have loved to see her interact with other Pawnee kooks like Bird Man.

In the end, of course, Ron helps Leslie overcome her mental block, and she pulls out several brilliant ideas for ways the department could use the money. Sure, he does that by forcing her to sleep seven full hours (twice as long as she normally sleeps!) in a closet lined with kitties, but that’s a small price to pay for our heroine getting her groove back. Once again, all is well… well, for everyone except Paul the City Manager. While praising Leslie, Paul has had a massive heart attack — prompting the government to ask Chris Traeger to come and fill in while the fallen manager recovers. (Welcome home, Rob Lowe!) Looks like Ann might have a tough row to hoe for the next few episodes. Which is great, since flustered Ann might be the best Ann. Example: “I’d love to catch up.” “Me too! Ketchup and mustard!” “So delightful! I relish your wit.” “I salsa… your… face.”

And that wasn’t the only highlight from tonight:

- This was a great episode for Jerry, between the way he called Tom’s favorite musicians “rap-ists,” the way he skeeved Ron out with a monologue about his personal life (he wants to lead a teen abstinence workshop; “That might be incredibly effective,” Ron deadpans), and the way he was clearly having a ball at The Quiet Corn. I bet on weekends, he drives up to Elsa’s B&B with a duffel full of mystery novels.

- Donna, too, had plenty of great moments. Her idea for what to do with the money: build a luxury dog park. “Poodles only. No pooping.” (So a flu-ridden Chris wouldn’t be allowed to visit.) While at The Quiet Corn, she’s also spotted reading a book called Your Erogenous Zones — maybe so she’ll be prepared when she meets Robert Pattinson?

- The headline the Pawnee Sun uses for their story about Paul grabbing Leslie’s boob as he keels over: “KNOPE GROPE IS LAST HOPE!”

- Unlike his employees, Ron loves going camping. He especially enjoys fishing, because it relaxes him: “It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.”

- April, grossed out by nature: “There’s a brook somewhere that won’t stop babbling!”

- Leslie’s so strapped for ideas that she turns to her dream journal for inspiration. Once, she dreamed she married ALF, and they were pretty happy together.

- Manic Leslie, trying to inspire the others: “All night work! All night work!”

- Even though I saw the joke coming from a mile away, I still really enjoyed seeing Ann not realize that Chris was letting her down easy… again.

- Andy treks through the woods for hours before he finally finds April at the B&B. He arrives with romantic flower petals and champagne… though he “had to drink most of it to survive.”

- “Stick a German muffin in it.”

What were your favorite moments from tonight’s episode of Parks and Rec?

Comments (75 total) Add your comment
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  • Francy

    From April: Camping sucks, it’s super boring. You can see the stars, which I hate. They’re creepy. And by the way, the brook won’t STOP babbling, not START babbling.

    • Mr. Holloway

      My favorite sneaky funny moment was Andy not having enough flower petals to spell out “APRIL” the second time and using a bunch of leaves to finish it up.

      • inturnaround

        Looked like potato chips, not leaves (he was carrying a bag of chips with him).

      • Mr. Holloway

        @ inturnaround

        Even better!

  • LOL

    Should have been better, but it’s still better than just about anything else.

    • paul

      Why do people call this show a comedy when it NEVER makes me laugh?

      • DTO

        Why do people come up here and ask questions that others couldn’t possibly know the answer to or care about? PARKS rules.

      • ichorwhip

        Because you’re a troll with too much time on your hands?

      • paul

        Nope! The CORRECT answer is:

        BECAUSE P&R ISN’T FUNNY and Amy Pohler (and her writers) have no sense of humor.

        Most sequences on this show are like watching paint dry.

      • J

        And yet you watch. Thanks for the support.

      • paul

        No . . . actually, I just STOPPED watching. EW’s writers just pee themselves continually about how good this show is, so I gave it SIX EPISODES and didn’t laugh once. So I leave P&R to the terminally comedically clueless – laugh away P&R minions, while ABSOLUTELY NOTHING funny ever happens!!

      • Amanda

        You sound so pressed. No wonder you don’t find P&R funny.

      • paul

        If, in your lexicon, ‘pressed’ is the opposite of IMPRESSED, you’re absolutely right Amanda!!

      • Rich

        Ah, Paul. Somewhere there’s a “Two And A Half Men” marathon with your name on it.

      • Rich

        Haha… Identical comment further down.

        Not sure when Sheen’s show became the go-to reference for trite, easy, simplistic comedy… but I can’t think of a better fit.

  • Dave

    Such a great episode! There were so many great moments, many of which you mention in the article. DJ Roomba, Donna’s Erogenous Zones book, Ron not being able to catch fish because of Jerry’s loud personal life, Leslie’s killer boob, Andy stumbling through the woods, etc.
    One of my other favorite moments that wasn’t mentioned was when Andy was laughing hysterically at that dude because his identity was stolen. His laugh was so infectious! Especially when he said to the guy, “Tell her about the accounts,” and the guy said to April, “they were frozen,” and Andy started laughing even more! Priceless!

    • Mr. Holloway

      I don’t understand why that poor sap (I’m assuming it’s the same guy) keeps coming back to Andy’s shoe shine station. Then again, he doesn’t look like he has a lot going on his life, so…

      • Sarah

        I know! Poor guy.

    • LisaP

      that was SO funny.

      • paul

        I am SOOOO sorry for you, Lisa P, if you think identity theft and stupidity is funny. What a sad and twisted sense of humor you have!!

      • Jan

        Well,there is a batle between me and my mind for this phoots, I wrote the conversation now. Mind: Esther, Farina said this phoots are porn.Esther: Porn? But he had all his clothes on.Mind:But this photo with his red toungue out? Esther:Tongue? I think is was a cherry for not think dirty.M: And the phoots in the bathtub? E : It was an animal in his cave.M: And the phoots without a shirt. E: Silence, I am meditatate .

  • Alan

    The cold open (and April’s face when Leslie’s boob was being grabbed), had me in stitches. I loved the whole episode. I love how Ann is getting a personality, finally. Loved April hating stars. Loved Andy falling around the forest. I loved the B&B breakfast menu too!

    • Mr. Holloway

      The fact that April only woke up for the Knope Grope was fantastic.

      • paul

        A HEART ATTACK! Hilarious!!!! (Seriously, what is WRONG with you people???)

      • pete

        Hey Paul, why don’t you stick to watching 2 1/2 men and we’ll watch a FUNNY show.

      • paul

        2 1/2 Men?

        Now that actually IS a funny show.

        Definitely NOT up your alley my friend!!

  • Josh

    Let’s not forget about Ron’s ghost story about state inspection. Hilarious.

    • Liz

      Haha! Yes, I thought that story was going to be about eminent domain but the state inspection was good too!
      My favorite part of this episode had to be Andy’s song at the B&B “I found you…And I fought a squirrel!”

    • Cass

      Yes, the look on Donna’s face during that story was priceless!

  • Lee Harvey

    Not a great P & R episode, but still a pretty good one. Flustered Ann is the best Ann. It could have used more cats.

  • Hmm

    How could I miss the irony (P&R people hate the outdoors)?! That part went right over my head. Sorry, I’ll go sit next to Jerry now.

  • Josh

    I agree that flustered Ann really works. Rashida Jones was particularly hilarious in this episode.

    Also, Rob Lowe is just f-ing amazing.

    • K

      LI-trally f-ing amazing.

  • Green

    Season 3 definitely still hasnt been that good, but Parks is still better than 95% of the shows out there.

    • Anca

      i don’t understand why some people aren’t in stitches watching this season. especially “The Flu” was a magnificent episode. i loved this one too, one of my favorites ever. i laughed so hard at donna’s dog park comment that i nearly choked.
      also Andy’s hysterical laughter because Kyle’s identity was stolen was amazing. A++!!

  • Jobless

    April’s looks into the camera always make me chuckle.

  • Michael

    Best line of the episode: “It’s pollution from the Sweetums factory.”

    • Verity

      It’s beautiful but is it worth the asthma?

      • LadybugVB


      • Mr. Holloway

        lol Ben’s “No.” was brilliant. Scott is so funny saying very little or nothing at all. (I liked him pathetically stuffing dirt and leaves under his sleepign bag to make a pillow.)

  • Verity

    I thought this was a fun episode! I like how they’re developing a reluctant buddy relationship between Tom and Ben. The two are so different it’s hilarious when they hang out. April and Andy had some great moments but I have to say Ron stole this episode from everyone else. His ghost story, his once again coming to Leslie’s rescue, and the line “It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something” was so spot on Swanson I had to pause and wait for my laughter to subside before I could move on with the rest of the episode.

    • Jon

      You should check out Nick Offerman on Adam Carolla’s “Ace on the House” podcast. Offerman is a fascinating guy- he’s a master carpenter who considers acting something to pay the bills. Some of the woodworking seen on the show, he did himself.

    • Mr. Holloway

      Some of my favorite moments on this show are when Ron gets Leslie back and we get to see their friendship.

    • bethany

      When Tom called Ben the “white Urkel” I about died. I, too, love those two together.

      • Ali

        I thought this was one of the best episodes yet; particularly the’white urkel’ line!

    • Gabriela

      Thank you very much Tenshi.I tried to buy it yesterday and have sold out, lucikly this morning put a few more on sale.So I will shortest waiting until the magazine arrives home.The pictures with white shirt I have no words

  • April

    Once again Parks & Rec is one of the best things on tv. Crazy cat lady B&B was wonderful. The look on Leslie’s face through the transom was too good. “There’s like 50 cats in here.”

  • NinaV

    Can I just say that I love that the quick shots of the “Harvest Festival” are shots from the Oktoberfest in Munich… love it!

    • K

      Really? I wondered where that footage came from. I figured surely, they don’t have the budget to set something that big up.

  • redeye

    Ron is rapidly becoming my favorite TV character EVER.

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