‘Parks and Rec’: Ben Makes a Sacrifice for Leslie


Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) on trial in "Parks and Recreation" (NBC)

While last night’s “Parks and Recreation” wasn’t the funniest episode of the season, it was the sweetest. And that’s saying something, especially given how sweet things have gotten between Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott).

It was a bit of a game-changer; with Ben and Leslie’s relationship now out in the open, Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) opened an ethics investigation. The episode was about “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” and it revealed that a) You can actually train yourself to be a reasonably decent litigator by watching two hundred or so episodes of “Law & Order,” and b) that even good people can do bad things. As the ever-wise Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) said to Leslie, “they own up to it, they try to learn something from it, and they move on.”

Which is what Ben did, even as Leslie was ready to fall on her sword for bribing that town maintenance guy who saw them kiss during the Li’l Sebastian memorial service. This is part of the game-changing aspect of the show: Ben decided to resign in order to spare Leslie. The intercutting of court stenographer Ethel Beavers reading Ben’s testimony with the actual meeting Ben had with Chris and the ethics board was very well-done; only Ben and Leslie would profess their love for each other via the official Pawnee record. Oh, that’s the third game changer, and the kiss the two of them shared after these declarations had as much of an “awwww!” factor as any kiss we’ve seen this year.

So, what does that mean for Leslie and Ben? Well, there may be some blowback on her city council campaign — we’re sure another defensive interview on “Pawnee Today” is in Leslie’s future — but the more interesting factor is where Ben will go. He and Chris have been a team for many years; how does Chris, who takes handfuls of herbal supplements just to keep himself from getting depressed, going to handle not having Ben there to keep him on an even keel? And what will Ben, who’s as much of a wonk as you can get, satisfy his jones to balance a budget?

We already know a bunch of things about upcoming episodes: Louis C.K. is coming back as Leslie’s former boyfriend, and, as Adam Scott has mentioned, the friendship between Chris and Ben will be examined a bit more. Both will make things interesting. But this new direction will be a fun one to explore.

Oh, and we also love the fact that Tammy II (Megan Mullally) testified, fully ready to give false evidence against Leslie, and that Jerry (Jim O’Heir) was such a get-along guy that he never corrected people at the office when they called him “Jerry” instead of his real name, Gary, thrty-something years ago.

Watch the latest episode of “Parks and Recreation”:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/Parks-and-Recreation/100562/2172887287/The-Trial-of-Leslie-Knope/embed 580 476]

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