Of course, Leslie Knope would one day one up Wendy Davis. Sure Davis’s filibuster to protect women’s rights in Texas was incredibly brave and important. But could she do it on roller skates? Didn’t think so. That’s why fictional female political heroes like Leslie are so rewarding to watch.
“Filibuster” is the on the nose political commentary that the show doesn’t often approach. When Parks and Recreation ordinarily discusses politics, it’s usually on large political themes like the importance of community project and government corruption. But this episode verges on the ripped from the headlines plotlines that Law and Order SVU is so famous, taking from both Davis’s famous filibuster and the new voter ID laws that are designed to take away voting rights from poorer and younger people.
In Pawnee, just a short while away from the recall election that exists to get rid of Leslie, Councilman Jamm and his allies wish to take away the voting rights of everyone without a Pawnee address on their license. The new mandate would mean that nobody from the newly merged Eagleton, which Leslie just saved from financial ruin, would be able to vote. In an effort to save the votes that would surely be hers, Leslie decides to filibuster the meeting, while missing her husband’s early 90s-themed birthday party and on roller skates.
Just like Davis’s GOP adversaries, who came up with fake reasons to ding her, Jamm does his best to mess Leslie up. He dings her for taking off her skates, turns the heat up to 90, and pours water to make Leslie want to pee. Jamm is not a compelling villain to me, but it seems that the show’s love affair with him isn’t over. He’s so boring and predictable that it’s barely fun to watch him lose (which he does.)
Unfortunately for Leslie, the voting rights she tries so hard to save will surely screw her over. The citizens of Eagleton have decided to back Ingrid (Kristen Bell) so that somebody from Eagleton will have a council seat. Leslie has a moment of conflict where she can either fight for their rights or get rid of the votes that will definitely be against her. She, of course, chooses to fight for their rights. Leslie Knope is a fantasy politician that the world could only dream of having on their side.
- Leslie’s story wasn’t the only plot, but it was the most interesting. Other plots included Andy coming back from London for a pep talk from April, Tom and Nadia being super cute together before she goes to Rawanda, and Ron being terrible at a video game.
- Jerry/Larry: “You look lovely.” April: “I’m going to murder you a thousand times.”
- Jerry/Larry: “This is so sweet. Just like the old days.” Andy: “Take a hike, Jerry.” Larry: “It’s Larry now.” Andy: “Okay, take a hike, Larry.”
- Ben is obsessed with the early 90s, but his rant about liking “women in skates… a lot” was beyond creepy.
- “I would walk 5000 miles… to Ben’s birthday party” sign
- Ann dresses like Blossom, Tom like Kriss Kross, Leslie has overalls, and a jean jacket for Chris. Ron dresses the same, which seems about right.
- Ron :“I’m not a sore loser. I just want to win and when I don’t I get furious.”
- “This is like a crazy sex fantasy for me”- Ben on Leslie filibustering on roller skates.
- Leslie: “How long have I been talking? 3 hours. No, eight minutes.”
- Nadia somehow manages to make Tom really likeable. That’s an incredible feat.
- Andy: “Just remember, every time you look up at the moon, I too will be looking at the moon. Not the same moon, obviously. That’s not possible.”
- Donna and Ron laughing about getting a night hunting license was everything.
- “Why are you covered in blood?” Donna: “Don’t worry, it’s not human.”
- Leslie needs to pee so she dances like a Peanuts character. Very cute visual gag.
- Nadia: “Together we truly did steal a toy from your pregnant friend”
- Ron puts “Ass” in the high score like a true gamer.
Well that was anticlimactic. The vote to recall Leslie, which has been built up all season, is completed in the first ten minutes. There is no fight to get a last swarm of votes, no voting controversies, or nervous anticipation like when Leslie was first elected. Leslie is recalled, leaving the rest of the episode open to wallowing.
It’s an interesting choice for the show to make. Maybe they didn’t want the episode to be too close to the classic election episode from two seasons ago. However, it doesn’t really work. Did the recall vote, Halloween party, and Leslie trying to come to terms with her recall really have to happen in one episode? Hopefully the rushed storyline means there’s something more important in the pipeline.
Leslie has 30 days left in office to make all her plans come to fruition. Likely there will be tons of complications to come out of that. What I really want to know is where does Leslie go from here? Is her political career over? Will she have a big goal to accomplish over the course of the season? How will Leslie be able to stand taking a step back in her career as just a member of the Parks and Recreation staff? I wish more of those questions would have been addressed during the episode, rather than drunken exploits.
Tom is also left in the lurch when it comes to his future plans. Jean Raphael’s dad is relentless when it comes to buying out Rent A Swag. When Ron’s handcrafted chairs end up in Bloosh, Tom sees his opportunity to save his business and become a ultra-fashionable brand. (Basically, it’s like every Tom-plot ever.) Bloosh is a Goop-like fashion email newsletter sent out by Annabel Porter, whose claim to fame is being a phone book model and once sleeping in Kate Bosworth’s pool house.
Tom and Ron’s plot ends exactly as you’d expect. Ron rejects the Bloosh connection, Annabel isn’t at all interested in helping Rent A Swag, and Tom ends up selling his business. Now he has the money he needs to start up another business that will surely fail. Another episode, another recycled Tom-plot. Enough.
With all these endings, it’s tough to tell where the series is going. “Recall Vote” fails in this respect. Parks and Rec has always been a show that looks to the future, but this episode completely halts any progress that’s been made.
- Jerry/Larry actually voted this time and Leslie lost. Coincidence? No way.
- The Leslie Knope Emotional Support Task Force is committed to showing Leslie videos of turtles and birds becoming friends, giving back rubs, and hanging fake Lilith Fair posters.
- Leslie: “Ann you’re a genius. Your brain is almost as perfect as your face.”
- “I regret everything”- Ron about agreeing to help Tom
- Leslie’s depression manifests itself in a Garfield “I Hate Monday’s” t-shirt, Uggs, and a disgusting Paunch Burger.
- Leslie: “Eat my shorts, jabronis” “I’m gonna go fall asleep on a bench.”
- Leslie is not even impressed Lil Sebastian, so you know things are bad.
- Ben and Leslie are dressed like Princess Bride characters, Buttercup and Wesley. So cute.
- Joan: “I love your hair. “ Annabel “Thank you. It’s genetic and unattainable.”
- I’m surprised they didn’t make mention of April’s flower costume.
- “This party is over. It nothing is. It was.”-Annabel
- While drunk, Leslie and Ben decide to get tattoos. Leslie wants on of Eleanor Roosevelt with a tattoo of Pat Benetar. “Scratch that. Just write Ben.”