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'Parks and Rec' recap: Two wonderful, chill-inducing moments

Season 7 | Episode 7 | “Donna and Joe” | Aired Feb 3, 2015

When last week’s episodes of Parks and Rec aired, I thought the show had almost nowhere left to go. Almost every loose end it had established had been tied up. Leslie had her national park. She and Ron had made up. Tom had won back his girl (at least for a date, which was a step in the right direction). Andy had negotiated a new, shiny contract for his Johnny Karate kids’ show. Things were looking good, nay, great in Pawnee. In fact, all that really seemed left to sort out was April’s return of Saturn moment and Donna’s wedding. Surely, the wedding would be the finale, I thought. What a perfect excuse to bring back Ann and Chris and end on a big, happy note.

I was wrong.

This week’s episode, “Donna and Joe,” centered on Donna’s nuptials, so we can officially check that off the Parks and Rec bucket list. Like most of this season, it was more or less pitch-perfect. Two moments in the episode actually gave me chills, the first for realizing a perfect moment I never realized I needed to see in the show, and the second for realizing one I’ve personally longed for but never believed I would see.

Chill 1: Ben Wyatt declares his candidacy.

A lot has happened since we left Pawnee in 2014. Leslie has proven herself as a leader in the National Parks Department. She’s also been courted by Jennifer Barkley, the political consultant, to run for office again. So when Jennifer asks for yet another meeting, she expects to have to tell her no once again. The twist: She’s there to court another member of the Knope family, Mr. Ben Wyatt.

It makes sense. Ben has been a successful city manager for Pawnee for five years. He helped bring the town prosperity through the Gryzzl contract and has improved the education system. Jennifer wants him to run for the House of Representatives and she thinks he can win it.

There’s a moment when Leslie looks a little shocked. Is she disappointed, you have to wonder, that Jennifer wasn’t there for her after all? Is she jealous of Ben? Is she upset by the prospect of having to split time between Pawnee and D.C. or spend months away from the love of her life?

If she is, it all takes a backseat to her love. She reveals in an interview segment that she’s incredibly proud of Ben and wants very badly for him to say yes to the opportunity, but she doesn’t want to push him too hard. Ben decides to spend the night before Donna’s wedding pretending he’s accepted the offer and the day of the wedding pretending he’s turned it down, to see which feels more right. The night before the big day leads to some classic drunken Ben and Leslie moments, and he leaves Jennifer several voice mails confirming his candidacy. It’s all over the news by morning.

Now that we’re up to speed, let’s get to the moment that gave me chills. Right before the wedding, Ben is hounded by a group of reporters looking for a quote about why he’s qualified to run for office, something he wondered himself when the idea was first proposed. In shooing them away, he gives a statement that makes me wish I were in his district so I could vote for him, even though that would make me a fictional person. I never realized that Ben Wyatt’s candidacy was the Parks and Recreation moment I’ve been waiting for, but it is. It so, so is.

Chill 2: Larry gets renamed.

Larry has had a lot of names over the course of Parks and Rec‘s seven seasons. He started as Jerry, but it was later revealed that his real name was Gary and no one had bothered to call him by his actual name. Later, he’s redubbed Terry, and by the time we return to Pawnee in 2017, he’s picked up Larry. As Johnny Karate’s sidekick on Andy’s TV show, he plays a mailman named Barry. He takes all of the errors and malicious jokes in stride, and as much as everyone in the Parks Department has always hated Jerry/Gary/Terry/Larry, I’ve loved him. I love him more the more he’s stepped on, so it makes my stomach turn a little when sweet, good Leslie Knope leads rallies against this good-hearted oaf.

At Donna’s wedding, Larry’s name plate is misspelled—as “Garry.” April and Andy lead the charge in mocking him and declaring that his new name is “Garry,” and Donna gives him a knowing wink. She wrote in his real name (albeit a misspelled version) on purpose, and it’s a rare, genuine act of kindness toward the character. I’m always hoping for a little Jerry/Gary/Terry/Larry/now Garry love, and this was more than I could have ever hoped for. Chills.

Parks and Recreation is almost out of plot to resolve, and I can’t say that I mind. I’m happy to be on the ride, and I trust the course they’ve set. I can’t wait to see where we end up, since I don’t think I can predict where that might be at this point.

Parks and Recreation airs Tuesdays at 8/7C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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