'Parks and Recreation' - 'Ron & Tammys' Recap
I think Parks and Recreation handles comedic drunkenness better than any show on television right now. Last season, there was the snake juice dance off, with "Ron & Tammys" we see a good old fashioned prairie drink off between Leslie, Tammy 1 and Tammy Prime—Ron’s mother—with Ron’s soul riding on the outcome. It’s awesome.
This episode sees the full-fledged debut of Tammy 1, Ron's first wife, who blows into the parks department like an Antarctic wind, demoralizing everyone she comes across—weirdly, except April, who sees the skeletal woman as “the cold, distant mother she never had.” Last week, Tammy 1 sauntered into Ron’s office to drop the bombshell that she will be performing an audit on her ex-husband, which sends Ron frantically sorting through his "financial records”--basically a paper bag full of pictures and bits of scrap paper with cryptic messages like “I bought supplies, 2007” scrawled on them. In fact, the only actual receipts that Ron has are for guns that he buys for his mother annually.
This is bad news for Leslie. She needs Ron to intimidate the other departments in the Pawnee government’s annual budgetary battle royale, but Tammy 1 makes quick work of our lovably brash, mustachioed hero, transforming him into a friendly, pastel wearing goober without a hair on his face. Ron’s weakness for women isn’t new territory for the show, but even Tammy 2’s work on Ron, turning him into a sex craved maniac, wasn’t as jarring as seeing our man asking for permission to go out to lunch with Leslie.
Ron and Tammy 1’s history runs deep. She was the nurse that helped deliver him (ew!), they sparked a relationship when he was 15 (blech!), she taught him middle school math, Sunday school lessons, driver’s ed and (urp) the art of sex. Andy thought all these details were fascinating, Leslie, rightly, found them digusting--though, like most people, I suspect she wouldn't say that to Tammy 1.
Come to find out, Tammy 1’s audit is a fabrication, just an excuse she cooked up in order to get Ron back under her control. Desperate to regain Ron in time for budgetary thunderdome, Leslie overturns all the stones of Ron’s past, first going to Tammy 2 (“To beat Godzilla we need Mothra”), who is still afraid of Tammy 1 to take action. So they venture back even farther into Ron's past, the farthest we've seen yet, to Ron’s mother, Tammy Prime (played by former SNL writer Paula Pell).
And that’s how we get to the prarie drink off. Leslie brings Ron’s mother into save her son from Tammy’s frosty clutches (I’m starting to run out of cold adjectives here, she’s mean is the point I’m trying to make), but when Tammy Prime sets the stakes so that if she wins Ron will have to come back with her to the farm for good, Leslie throws herself into the match to keep Ron in Pawnee—despite Ron rather adamantly advising against her drinking from the jug of Swanson Family mash liquor, whose only legal use is to strip varnish off of speed boats (though it can also be used to burn the warts off of mules and to melt the shell off of a garden snail). Regardless of Ron’s warning, Leslie stands up for her friend, downing the first shot—and then instantly regretting it (“Poison! I made a mistake! I made a mistake!”)
When we cut back to the later rounds of the REAL battle royale, the pair of Tammys cooly stare one another down while Leslie sways in her chair quietly slurring to herself. Leslie is probably my favorite TV drunk, as alcohol seems to kick her emotions into high gear and transforms her into an all-out hurricane of sloppy destruction. The Swanson clan’s rotgut hasn’t been too kind to her either, as a few cut aways show her using the Pawnee city seal as a 300-esque shield and crying over a little doll or… toy, or something.
But it’s all for a good cause, as Leslie’s self-sacrifice is what finally brings Ron back from the brink. To stop the madness from going any further, Ron picks up the half-full jug and tosses back the whole thing—somehow without dying. It’s a nice scene, one that tightens the Leslie/Ron relationship even more than last weeks "Leslie F'n Knope" speech--it also weirdly mirrors the end of Return of the Jedi when you think about it. Best not dwell on that.
Elsewhere in Pawnee, Tom recruits resident numbers nerd Ben to look at the books of his and John Ralphio’s new, ill-defined entertainment business. So far, Tom’s efforts have amounted to a converting an airplane hanger into his own personal playground, complete with severely over-paid hotties and his own personal basketball players. Ben—or Angelo, Jello Shot or J-Shot; take your pick--is blown away by Tom’s recklessness, and throws a big bucket of cold water on the little guy’s dreams by suggesting that maaaybe he should consider trying to make some money before his business folds under the weight of its collossal overhead.
Then, down in the C-Plot, we have Chris and Anne trying to film a PSA against diabetes, a task that Chris takes on with gusto pretty much immediately. He takes dozens of takes while Anne stares on in amazement, wondering to the camera why she dated such a kook for so long. Coupled with the last episode, it seems like the show is really trying to paint Chris into being more of a frentic crazy-person than he was last season—what’s with his hair anyway? He looks like me… like, 6 months ago. The arc ends on a sweet note, however, when Chris earnestly thanks Anne for giving him the opportunity to star in the videos, reminding Anne about the charmer she dated for 5 months.
And that’s about it for this week. No mention of Leslie’s campaign or her and Ben’s relationship that drove last week's episode—in fact I’m not sure we even see them in the same room this week. But who needs it when we get to mine so much into the enigma that is Ron Swanson?
Don’t forget an iPad on your way out.
I love the way that Tammy 1 moves. She stalks around like a panther.
“Ron, your mustache fell off!”
Tom wears some badass panda shoes.
Need to install a party switch immediately.
The Swanson family firewater is so strong that it even makes Tammy 1 flinch.
Everybody pants now! Pants! Pants! Pants, pants, pants!
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