This opening episode of Parks and Recreation is a double one, so we get a nice long stretch of all our favorite characters. It's nice to see this show back - while it's not the most creative or innovative thing ever put on television, it always leaves a smile on my face.
Leslie is busy fighting against Pawnee's intentions to recall her. April had submitted Leslie's name in a contest for female politicians, and she won one of the five awards. The gang travels to London to accept it. While there, Leslie gets discouraged about how much the other politicians are loved by their hometowns. During her speech, she announces that the people of Pawnee are ungrateful and she sometimes really hates it there. Unfortunately, Jerry had organized a viewing party back in Pawnee, and the whole town saw what Leslie said.
Also in London, Ben and Andy work to get the support of a rich lord so that they can expand their nonprofit organization. While the lord has a lot of money at his disposal, he doesn't really know what he's doing. While Ben attempts to talk business, Andy ends up bonding with the guy by acting like a little kid. In the end, they get the funding, but the rich guy asks Andy to stay and help him get things going. After talking with April, Andy decides to take the opportunity.
Also in London is Ron. He is recently married to Diane, but his wife is at home pregnant. He's been instructed to come there and take pictures for her. I think Ron was probably my favorite part of the episode. His utter distaste for all things European was fantastic. Leslie, being her wonderful self, sends Ron on a very specific journey to some island off the coast of Scotland where he gets to see distilleries, and drink alone on the beautiful hillsides.
Back in Pawnee, a few other things were going on. Tom finally discovers who his competitor is: Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa's father! Apparently, he set up a store to compete with Rent-a-Swag because he believes that Tom has ruined the lives of his children. Jean-Ralphio then comes clean to his father and says that Tom didn't screw him out of the company. However, even with the truth revealed, he decides to keep the store open because it's making a profit. Tom is going to have to fight to keep his dream alive!
Chris and Ann are getting closer as Ann's pregnancy progresses. They go around telling everyone the good news, but they don't get the reactions they were hoping for, until Leslie gets home and treats it with her typical overblown excitement. Another highlight of the episode for me was when Jerry reacted to the news by telling Chris that when Gale was pregnant, he gained a lot of sympathy weight, and that he used to look a lot like Chris. Chris looked so horrified.
The episode ended on a really touching note. April knows that Leslie is having a really hard time being her usual chipper self in light of all the negative attention she has been getting in Pawnee. She reads out the letter she wrote to the committee for the award that Leslie won. In it, April talked about how much Leslie truly cares for everyone and how if you're lucky enough to be her friend, she spends her time thinking of ways to make your life better. It was an adorable note. April is adorable. The end.
This was a strong opening! I'm skeptical about Andy's story line in London, but I'm happy to see him advancing in life. In all, nothing in this premiere episode had me jumping for joy, but there were a lot of really sweet moments and some funny jokes as well.