I was already pretty much in the can for Ron "Fucking" Swanson before tonight's episode (excuse me, that's Ron "Freakin'" Swanson), but "Ron And Tammy" definitely proved to me that Nick Offerman is the best guy for the job, hands down. It was chock full of the straight-up shocking lines Swanson's delivered in the past so well, but also showed the man projecting a surprising range of emotions, albeit comical ones. The center of the story is the library, which the parks department hates with undying passion; they're just the worst people in the world, everyone claims, simply despicable. This hate—which I enjoyed because a) it's fun to watch characters agree on something preposterous and play around with it, and b) it made me think, "Huh, maybe people in government really do hate these guys"—drives Leslie to the main Pawnee library branch when she learns the muscle over there is trying to steal the lot for its own arcane purposes.
It just so happens that the person in charge is Tammy, Ron's exwife (played by Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman's real-life wife; mind-swirlz!), and Leslie's been given her fair share of warnings from Ron. But Leslie's surprised to find out that Tammy's actually pretty nice, and is willing to give back the lot because, as she says, government girls stick together. And with minimal convincing, Leslie now thinks Tammy's swell. It wouldn't be a Parks & Rec episode if Leslie didn't quickly start loving something she hated based on one experience, and this time it serves the plot by convincing Leslie that she needs to get Ron and Tammy back together.
Well, turns out Tammy's just as manipulative and evil as Ron claimed: She seduces Ron after the most tense lunch of all time, brings him back to a motel in a hurry (it also wouldn't be an episode of P&R if there wasn't a fair amount of trou-dropping), makes him feel like he's "doing peyote and sneezing, slowly, for six hours," then whispers sweet nothings into his ear about, hey, that lot. And how nice it would be as a library branch. Ron, for the first time showing signs of wear and tear, is helpless to refuse, and even starts to take back things he said earlier in the episode. It's sad to watch him fall so hard, but it gives Nick Offerman a lot to play with, and sows the seeds for Leslie to take charge of the situation.
Leslie is clearly working from a skewed version of social graces (she prides herself on her ability to meddle in other people's business), but to Amy Poehler's credit, that obliviousness pays off in spades when she decides to take drastic action. She steps in to rescue Ron and break up with Tammy, and doesn't think twice about demanding he sit in the room, making no eye contact and not speaking. It's Leslie at her best, and it makes for an amazing reveal once the camera pans over to a blurry-eyed Ron staring straight ahead. And as evidenced by this episode, the show is getting better at fleshing out the supporting characters—they've given them plenty to do this season, but it was nice to focus exclusively on one character for an entire episode, throw him into a corner, and watch him comedically get his way out.
As usual, though, the rest of the cast helped things along. Andy stole a few more scenes with his eagerness to be a shoeshiner, get on Deal Or No Deal by ripping apart a fish, and win Ann back (those posters he made… how creepy). But I loved how actors like Aziz Ansari, with only a handful of lines, were able to take over focus ever so briefly; his bit to the camera about advising others to take the high road so he can have the low road, followed by his sad little dance, got me. My one complaint is that both Ann and Mark were just way too… normal. I'm excited for each of them to get the Ron "Fucking" Swanson treatment down the line.
- "Ann, hi. It's me. It's Andy."
- Ron talking to Leslie, pauses. Looks up. "She's here, isn't she?"
- "Everyone has weaknesses." "Not machines."