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Recap / Parks And Recreation S 03 E 01

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Leslie: Look, we're not just pencil-pushers. We are a reflection of the community. And we believe that we can strengthen that community. Because in the end, the reason why we're all here is to bring people together.

The government of Pawnee finally restarts after having been shut down for three months. Leslie rounds up her crew, but with the city operating on a shoestring budget, most of the park services have been slashed. Ben tells the department their only work will be maintenance on existing parks. He adds that they must also set up a youth basketball league due to popular demand, though they only have money for two teams.


Leslie laments to Ann that the Parks and Rec Department used to do big things, like the Winter Jamboree and the Harvest Festival. The ever-persistent and optimistic Chris tries again to ask Ann out while Leslie is rude to Ben. Ann refuses, as she finds Chris a little too intense for her liking and she's still reeling from her break-up with Mark, but later Leslie has an idea: Ann can go out with Chris to convince him to help the Parks Department recover its budget.

Ron coaches one basketball team and Andy coaches the other. Ron is strict and disciplined with his players, while Andy is laid back and lets the kids go wild. Tom, who has no knowledge of basketball, referees the first game between Ron and Andy's teams. Wendy, who is dating Ron, shows up. Tom, despite having his girlfriend Lucy at the game, gets jealous and starts to call false fouls on Ron's players until all of them are benched. When Ron and Wendy get angry, Tom ejects them from the game and declares it a forfeit. Andy's team wins by default.


Leslie coaches Ann in what to wear, how to act, and what to say on her date with Chris. During their dinner, Ann starts to genuinely enjoy herself. She learns from Chris that his positive attitude comes from the fact that he was born with a rare blood disorder and wasn't expected to live beyond three weeks, so he feels fortunate to be alive every day.

Leslie shows up at the restaurant and joins Chris and Ann. She tries to speak about the Parks Department when Ben shows up as well, having suspected that Leslie set up Ann to date Chris for her own scheme. Chris invites them to join him and Ann. Leslie still tries to bring up the budget and Ben suggests the two of them leave. Instead, the four go to The Bulge. A patron tries to hit on Chris, and he politely declines but buys drinks for several other guys. Ann realizes she likes Chris. At the bar, Leslie tells Ben about the time she married two gay penguins. He tells her that his time as mayor was such a fiasco that he has tried since then to show he's responsible.


Leslie gets Chris to consider increasing the Parks Department's budget, and Leslie inadvertently says, "Mission accomplished." Chris leaves, hurt that Ann had an ulterior motive for going out with him.

As Andy is working at the shoeshine stand, he finally sees April, who was in Venezuela for the last three months. She claims she isn't mad about him kissing Ann, then she introduces him to Eduardo, her new boyfriend from Venezuela.

Ann meets with Chris, explaining that she was initially doing Leslie a favor, but she likes him a lot and wants to go out with him again. Chris happily agrees.

Andy tells Leslie what happened with April. Leslie encourages him by saying he should "go big or go home." Leslie decides to take her own advice: she wants to bring back the Harvest Festival, which was once a Pawnee tradition until it was eliminated by past budget cuts. Leslie and the other parks employees agree that if it is not a success, the state auditors can shut down the parks department. Impressed by their enthusiasm, Chris and Ben agree to the idea.

Andy gives April lots of flowers and tells her he'll keep asking her out until she says yes.


  • Betty and Veronica: April is the Archie for her new boyfriend Eduardo's Veronica and Andy's Betty.
  • Blood Knight: Ron trains his team to be this.
    Ron: Destroy them, gentlemen. Feel no sympathy.
  • Brick Joke: In "94 Meetings", Andy hopes the Pawnee frisbee team is named the "Lightning". In this episode, his basketball team is named "Lightning".
  • Chekhov's Gun: Leslie mentions the big events the Parks Department used to do, including the Harvest Festival. She decides to go with the festival as a way of building the Parks Department back up.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Andy tries to get in touch with April:
      Andy: This is like the 200th message I've left you without a response. So if you're trying to tell me something, I do not know what it is because you won't call me back.
    • Andy again, when Leslie tries to encourage him:
      Leslie: You go big or you go home. And you don't seem like the kind of guy who goes home.
      Andy: I'm not. I don't even really have a home.
  • Continuity Nod: Leslie mentions the events of "Pawnee Zoo" and The Bulge gay bar makes another appearance.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Even after getting into a new relationship, Tom is still jealous of seeing Ron with Wendy. Andy, on the other hand, is a bit more downplayed, dedicating himself to winning April back but not being outwardly mean to Eduardo.
  • Food Porn: Parodied - Leslie believes Ann should use "sexy food" like asparagus and turkey chili to attract Chris.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: By pausing, you can read the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.
  • Full-Name Basis: Chris' way of talking to everyone, lampshaded by Ann.
  • Honeytrap: Leslie attempts to use Ann to attract Chris so they can get money for the Parks Department.
    Leslie: Would you be cool doing the things a prostitute does? Minus the money.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: For all of Ron's training for his team, ultimately, he loses the game because of Tom's pettiness.
  • Manly Tears: Invoked by Ron - his pyramid states that crying is only acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.
    • Chris is so moved by Leslie's plea for bringing the Harvest Festival back, he sheds tears.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Chris, at the gay bar. At least one patron expresses interest in him and Chris politely turns him down, but still buys him a drink and befriends him.
  • Nice Guy: Chris is so ridiculously and intensely nice that he intimidates Ann slightly.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The episode starts with Leslie going around getting everybody from the Parks Department back on board.
  • Rated M for Manly: The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness is a pretty macho way of living.
  • Real Men Eat Meat: The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness includes places for Cow, Pig, Chicken and Deer Protein. It also includes fishing, but only for sport, because "fish is practically a vegetable."
  • Shout-Out: Ron throwing a chair across the court at the basketball game references the incident where Bob Knight did the same thing at a 1985 game against Purdue University. Ron's team even had the same colors (red and white) as Knight's Indiana University Hoosiers.
  • Skewed Priorities: Tom believes the top priority of the Parks Department should be creating the world's biggest pizza.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    Ron: Capitalism: God's way of determining who is smart, and who is poor.
  • Shout-Out: The background music that plays during the Parks Department's presentation to Ben and Chris asking to bring the Harvest Festival back is the theme song from Chariots of Fire.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Tom's job during the three months when the government shut-down was selling tennis shoes and sportswear at a store in the mall. When Leslie gets Tom back on board, he loudly quits.
    Tom: Jeremy, suck it! By the way, I've been giving away free sports bras to the girls at Hot Dog on a Stick.
  • Title Drop: Leslie tells Andy that, to get April, he needs to "Go big or go home".
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Subverted. Ron says he's not the kind of person who gives speeches... and then leaves.
  • Workaholic: Leslie wouldn't wish the three months without anything to do on her worst enemy. She actually continued working with her idea binders.

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