Season Three! This is such a great season: it’s the beginning of Leslie and Ben’s relationship, Mark is gone, Ann goes through her dating-as-many-men-as-possible phase, April and Andy finally get together, the Harvest Festival happens … Things really start to shake up in these 20-something episodes, with Leslie deciding to run for city council, Tom leaving his government job to become an entrepreneur, and Ann taking a position at city hall. And while every episode is absolutely excellent, there is only one that will reign supreme: “The Fight.”
Recap! The episode opens up brilliantly with Ron setting up the rest of the parks crew for a fight about a broken coffee machine (that he punched himself when it burned him) because it was “getting a bit chummy” in the office. After the credits roll, we find out the PR director for the public health department has come up for grabs, and Leslie wants Ann to interview for it. Ann isn’t too sure about leaving her nursing career behind and, despite (or possibly because of) the sheer volume of information Leslie gives her to review prior to the interview, she decides to go to Tom’s Snake Juice release party at the Snakehole Lounge. The titular fight happens inside the bar, where both women – and the rest of the crowd, save Chris and Donna (who is on a cleanse) – are drunk on the new alcoholic beverage.
Pause for quick gif party:
Anyway, what I love most about this episode is Ann and Leslie confronting each other (drunkenly, but still) and then being able to reconcile like adults afterward. Leslie is definitely frustrated with her inability to date Ben because of Chris’ rule against interdepartmental dating and is jealous of Ann’s freedom to date whomever she chooses, and Ann is aware, at least on some level, that her constant parade of new men isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing for her. But the important thing is that they’re friends who are willing to say the things that needed to be said, even if they hurt.
This is also a great example of what a steamroller Leslie is. I know that this storyline was meant to bring Ann to city hall so she could be involved in future stories more believably, but it sets up the later episode in Season Four, “Smallest Park,” in which Leslie finally realizes that her very energetic, stubborn way of pushing people can have serious consequences to her relationships with them. Leslie is a very passionate person, which is one of the things that both Ben and Ann love about her, but it can also bring about more conflict than Leslie intends. Hence, “The Fight.”
Second, Tom’s entrepreneurial attempt here is one of my favorites pre-Rent-A-Swag, partly because of his guerrilla marketing strategy. I do feel bad for him when he has to sell his shares in the Snakehole Lounge – again, a Chris rule that I disagree with – but this very thing is what starts him down the path to embracing who he is. He’s a capable business man with big ideas, and he feels rightfully stifled by his role in the government. Without this setback, though, he probably wouldn’t have been pushed to leave.
Third, April and Andy’s role-playing game is absolutely amazing and is basically Couple Goals for me. Their relationship should not work, considering they’re both basically children, but somehow, they manage to keep their relationship strong and supportive.
This is definitely one of the episodes I show people to get the into the Parks and Rec, mainly because of the above gif of Ron dancing with April’s hat on his head, and is easily one of the strongest episodes the show ever did. All of the characters’ stories connected in interesting ways – even Donna’s cleanse – and it is legitimately hilarious, so that of course means I’m going to go watch it now.
Runners-Up: “Flu Season,” “Harvest Festival” and “Andy and April’s Fancy Party”