Parks and Recreation Coverage: Leslie vs. Ron

Episode Commentary: “Pawnee Rangers”

This young season of “Parks and Recreation” appears to be settling into a routine with ‘Pawnee Rangers.” This episode is a throwback to earlier seasons of the show, with a classic Leslie Knope-Ron Swanson stand-off.

Ron’s Pawnee Rangers head out for a weekend of roughing it in the way only Ron Swanson can rough it; Leslie takes out her own group, the Pawnee Goddesses, continuing Leslie’s long-running stand against patriarchy in all forms, and pitting her and Ron against each other as representatives of two different world views.

What is the most interesting about these Ron-Leslie confrontations is the even hand producers gives both sides. Ron is never presented as a bigot or a chauvinist, but merely as a man who revels in masculinity in a time when that is no longer the vogue. Leslie is never presented as a moralistic man-hater, but merely as a person who refuses to accept the traditional boundaries placed upon her gender.

While the stand-off between the two camps is funny, it is not enough to carry an episode at this point in the series. The classic Ron and Leslie dynamic is simply recapitulated, and not built on.

But, “Pawnee Rangers” provides a couple of surprises, coming from Donna (Detta) and Jerry (Jim O’Heir), two background characters who have not had many opportunities to shine this year. Both get solid subplots, showing us parts of their characters so far unrevealed. Donna convinces Tom to bring a depressed Ben along on their annual ‘Treat Yo Self” shopping spree, springboarding into a further development of the Ben-Tom relationship. Jerry introduces Chris Traeger to his daughter, Millicent, who turns out to be a smoking-hot female counterpart to Chris. What results is Jerry finally getting the love and acceptance he is due, and an interesting new relationship for Chris.

The strange plight of Ann Perkins continues, however. She seems to be developing into the butt of a lot of jokes, and doesn’t seem very well-liked by most of the characters, puzzling considering her long history with the show. In this episode, she makes a fool of herself a few times, talks about making a fool out of herself, and overall does not seem very happy. What’s up with Ann? With any luck, the answer will soon reveal itself.

“Pawnee Rangers” is solid, but not great, a decent marking of time, but far from a classic.

About Justin Mitchell 48 Articles
Justin Mitchell is a freelance multi-media journalist and writer working in New York. In addition to his work at Review Fix, Justin has written for Latitude News, The New York Daily News, and Feet in 2 Worlds. Follow him on twitter: @mittinjuschell

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