“…They are our neighbor and they sprained their ankle, and when your neighbor sprains his ankle you help him off the court.” –Leslie Knope
Even when that neighbor is the entire town of Eagleton, Indiana, Pawnee’s and Leslie Knope’s worst enemy. Pawnee and Eagleton’s intense and lengthy rivalry has been a magnificent source of comedic material for the show for the past five seasons. Every time we venture into the privileged and entitled town of Eagleton the writers come up with even more hilariously ridiculous examples of the town’s wealth and superiority. It is easy to understand why Leslie and the citizens of Pawnee are so hostile to their beautiful, shiny-haired neighbors. “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic” is an episode that benefits from the rivalry built up so diligently by the show and all the time spent on he towns’ history pays off wonderfully.
The episode begins with a familiar set-up, introducing the long-standing rivalry between the neighboring towns and giving us some great Eagleton-hate via Leslie: “…” When Eagleton’s financial troubles are revealed and Leslie’s uncontainable glee and smugness is quite satisfying to watch. For years we have witnessed how arrogant and irritating these people are and it is about time that they get their comeuppance. No one is happier than Leslie, of course, who just cannot resist her self-righteousness. That powerpoint presentation was genius. Leslie’s uncharacteristic and irrational hatred for Eagleton and its people is always fun to watch, precisely because of her almost perpetual positive and good-natured demeanor. Also never not funny are Eagleton’s ridiculously extravagant expenditures. Bottled water-filled swimming pools, HBO for everybody, Michael Buble on retainer, and Swarovski crystal oranges, yes please. I admit that if I were a resident of Pawnee I would probably be like Tom and publicly voice my disgust for the town while not so secretly wanting to live there. Seriously, brunch every day? When can I move?
Ultimately the rivalry between the towns is suspended (temporarily?) in order for Pawnee to help bail Eagleton out. Yes, the town of Eagleton will be absorbed by Pawnee, which will certainly bring up many issues for the future. If the scene in which the decision is announced is any indicator, it will not be a very peaceful merger. This definitely opens up the series for new conflicts and a new set of recurring characters that we can look forward to get to know.
The B and C stories were sufficiently amusing, I particularly enjoyed Ron’s quest to erase himself from the world. Ron’s growing sense of paranoia and loss of privacy coupled with Tom and Donna’s obsessions with all things social was a great combination. Tom and Donna are one of my favorite pairings on the show (Donna and anyone, really) their chemistry is great and they always bring on the laughs. It wasn’t as great as “Treat Yo’Self 2011” but nothing can really top that. Though Tom and Donna’s vine was quite good. Ann and April’s road trip was fine. As I’ve said before Ann is not the most interesting character so generally my interest wanes when she is on, but I like her interactions with April (probably because I would also deal with Ann in the most sarcastic and snarky way possible). There wasn’t anything exceptionally funny or great in their storyline and while I understand why the writers don’t want to ship April off to Bloomington, it is a little disappointing to see April dismiss her opportunity to go to school. While April may be staying in Pawnee, the seeds are planted for Chris and Ann’s departure. The writers seem to be handling this transition well, Ann’s decision feels true to the character and believable (certainly after her conversation with April).
The episode sets up things in motion that will pay off in the following episodes and will bring new elements to the series. After Leslie finally achieved her dream of serving in public office it was hard to see where the show was going to go, but the writers have deftly sustained the narrative with interesting conflicts. Development like Leslie facing opposition from the town, and now this merger, have kept up the level of interest in the story, along with the great presence of the supporting cast, if the writers keep it up there is a lot of potential for the new season.
Quotes & Observations:
- Kristen Bell, yay! Perfect casting for Ingrid de Forest. Hope we see more of her.
- “I’ve eaten a lot of food in a lot of restaurants. Why is everyone else so bad at eating?”
- Rob Lowe’s head bob when Ingrid says that they bought HBO for the entire town was such a great reaction shot. It was a very genuine look of surprise. “It’s not TV.”
- “I’m April Ludgate-Kevorkian.”
- “You just vined your first selfie, Ron!”
- “… look I hate Eagletonians just as much as you do, I hate their stupid beautiful faces and their stupid shiny hair”
- “ Eagleton is terrible. Why should I bail them out with the hard earned money from my unemployment check?” Oh, Pawnee weirdos, you’re awesome.