Parks and Recreation recap: “Harvest Festival”
The event of all events is taking place tomorrow in Pawnee, Indiana. And Li’l Sebastian is the guest of honor, yo! So get ready for some fried dough and sidle up to Leslie Knope’s poor, cursed All-American (complete with atrocities) baby: the Pawnee Harvest Festival.
Episode: “Harvest Festival” (air date: March 17, 2011)
Ron Swanson slowly rolls his eyes as Leslie gathers her crack team of festival executors for a signature Harvest Fest Eve pep talk. As usual, no one’s as excited about the latest Parks Department endeavor as Leslie is. Until, that is, a special guest is led in: the legendary pony—er, mini horse—named Li’l Sebastian, who is making his triumphant return (as is the festival) after a 20-plus-year absence.
Everyone goes happy-bonkers. Even Ron looks as giddy as a 7-year-old on Christmas morning. And no wonder—not only is Li’l Sebastian an international, albeit aging, celebrity (he and his festival “caretaker” Jerry are on the same diabetes medication), but he holds an honorary degree from Notre Dame.
Not impressed by Li’l Sebastian is Ben, who makes the mistake of intimating that he doesn’t get what all the fuss is about, prompting Leslie to banish him from the meeting.
Leslie explains to camera how the Harvest Festival is the biggest thing in her career and if it fails the Parks Department will be eliminated. Dun dun dun!
She, Ben, and Tom discuss the nerdiness vs/ non-nerdiness of Star Wars (Tom and Leslie: nerdy; Ben: not-nerdy) while they wait for Ken, the leader of the Wamapoke tribe, who is sporting a slicked-back ponytail, a bolo tie and a festival-related grievance. Tom gets in a “Dope bolo” before Leslie addresses Ken in his native language. But this does little to assuage Ken’s grievance: the “carnival” is being held on the site of the Battle of Indian Hill, and its shooting galleries and fried dough stands need to be moved.
Leslie holds her ground—literally—going to the Map of Pawnee Settler Atrocities Against the Wamapoke (99% blue with “atrocities” in blue) for backup for the fact that given its history, Pawnee has a hard time not being offensive. Ken resignedly leaves, throwing a “I just hope that the souls of my ancestors don’t put a curse on this festival…” over his shoulder, then tells camera in confidence that white peoples’ fear of curses is equal only to their love of Matchbox 20.
Let’s get to the burial ground fairgrounds, shall we? A clipboard-clutching Ben is sucking up to Leslie, prompting them to perform an elaborate secret handshake in front of Tom, who (naturally) shouts, “Get a room!”
Leslie delivers yet another pep talk to her Festival posse, ending with a cheery, “If one thing goes wrong we’re all gonna lose our jobs.”
Ann and Donna are manning the first aid tent. Which, of course, means they are discussing Ann’s love life. The “Bionic Man” is out of the picture and Ann has been defining what it means to be ragingly single: shopping online for scented candles from Anthropoligie, looking at dog adoption websites, and boring her mailman with her sob story. Donna’s advice: bottle that shit up. Funny, that’s what the mailman suggested, too.
Joan (played by the very funny former MAD TV cast member Mo Collins), the never-impressed TV hostesses of all TV hostesses is prepping for her big Festival Story—at Leslie’s expense. We learn that carnival-goers will enjoy Indiana’s largest corn maze, a beautiful ferris wheel (Joan prefers to call it a “giant wheel of death”), and autographs from Larry Bird’s 84-year-old aunt Tilda. And Li’l Sebastian of course! Joan goes crazy. Tom hits on her so hard that Ben’s delicate sensibilities are offended.
Cut to April and Andy being ridiculously cute by the carnival games, bantering about how many millions of teddy bears he’s going to win her. They kiss, and then…April drops the L-bomb. And Andy responds, not shockingly, with, “Dude, shut up! That is awesome sauce!” and a high five. Doghouse, anyone? It’s a good thing Andy is used to living in a pit by himself.
As Tom explains how he’s using Li’l Sebastian as an advertising opportunity for his club, aka, draping him in a Snakehole-logoed mini horse blanket, the star of the festival escapes his pen through an unlocked gate. Just then, Jan catches wind of the “curse” and Li’l Sebastian’s disappearance and orders her cameraman to get some shots of “chipped paint and crying babies” for her new intro.
An emergency meeting is called. As Ron devises the mini horse recovery mission, April hurls the first of many passive-aggressive anti-Andy comments. The news of the curse spreads throughout the fairgrounds: Ann’s “beefy dude” patient is talking about it; Ken Hotate’s on the news talking about it; the Tawainese animators were inspired enough by the drama to create one of their masterpieces! The end screen of which is a representation of Leslie’s head turning into a skull with flaming red eyes.
April and Andy “look” for Li’l Sebastian in the corn maze. She’s so pissed that she tells camera that she “awesome sauce Andy.” Ann examines her “beefy dude” who basically offers her his dick in a box. She’s repelled at the suggestion, but rethinks her stance after hearing Donna’s advice to “use him, abuse him, lose him.”
Ron rethinks his tactics—the ground mission has failed, and it’s time for an air strike. He, April, Andy, Tom and Jerry mount the beautiful spinning beast. Meanwhile, the news media has flocked to the fairgrounds. Leslie addresses the ravenous crowd, clearing up rumors like a Roomba clears up so many dust bunnies (“At no time was any parks department worker quote feasting on petting zoo animals”), offering concessions to the Wamapoke tribe, and dismissing claims of a curse. Cue the grounds-wide power outage. Crap on a spatula.
Team Airstrike is trapped on the Ferris Wheel. Ron mediates the fights between Tom and Jerry and April and Andy and gets everyone to apologize to each other. Andy tells April he loves her, and that’s “what makes the sauce so awesome.” Then Jerry farts.
Leslie learns that the generator is shot because the TV crews plugged in and overloaded it. Guess who has the only nearby generator? The Wamapoke casino. Leslie successfully barters with Ken, who lifts the “curse” on camera via a “sacred ceremony” crowned by the nonsense words “Doobee doobee do.” The oblivious white crowd goes wild. And guess who has been found? Li’l
Sebastian! Wearing his Snakehole promo blanket of course. Order has been restored to Pawnee, and thereby, America. And love.
“Harvest Festival” offered plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and the sweet non-aggressive fighting between Andy and April was sweeter than a Sweetum product. This week I felt like Adam Scott was underused, or perhaps just too understated to add anything worthwhile, as was Rashida Jones, but Aziz Ansari and Mo Collins outshone themselves. And Amy Poehler, well, she’s always the bees knees. Honk if you’ve got a mini-horse stiffy for the Snakehole!
Parks and Recreation airs Thursday nights at 9:30 EST on NBC. And it was just renewed for a fourth season. Squeee!