Posted October 6, 2012 by Chris Vanjonack in Movies & TV

Parks and Recreation Review: "How A Bill Becomes A Law"

Review: Parks and Recreation, Season 5, Episode 3, “How A Bill Becomes A Law”


If the first two episodes back from hiatus were about Leslie coming to grips with her new role  as a City Councilwoman, this week’s episode, “How A Bill Becomes a Law” was all about how Leslie deals with her new colleagues. After being approached by a children’s swim team, Leslie creates the Fun-in-the-Sun Bill in an attempt to keep the public pools open for an extra few weeks. The bulk of the episode concerns Leslie’s attempts to secure the votes she needs to pass it into becoming a law. To do this, she must win over one of two other Councilmen: Jam, the bathroom obsessed dentist who opposes the bill simply because he wants Leslie’s office, and Milton, a decrepit former Dixie-crate who’s been in office for over half a century. Convincing both men turns out to be harder than Leslie expected: Jam because he’s childish and petty, and Milton because he ends up hospitalized after an aborted attempt to come-on to her. (“You remind me of a young, beautiful Strom Thurmond,” he tells Leslie).


Though this week’s A-Story lacked a bit in overall laughs, (The whole business with the perm seemed pretty broad and groan inducing to me) the storyline was redeemed by what is said about the characters. For one thing, it’s always nice to see Leslie and Tom paired up together, something the show has strayed away from in recent seasons. The two play-off of each other nicely, and it’s always fun to see the contrast between them. For the majority of the series, Leslie has been the optimistic one, always singing the praises of local government and its possibilities, while Tom has been more cynical and disillusioned by the lack of respect he gets for his position, even briefly leaving the Parks Department early last season. Twice in “How a Bill Becomes a Law” however, Tom goes out of his way to help Leslie maintain her ideological perspective. First convincing her that she does not in fact hate politics, and then again later by tackling Councilman Jam into the pool to prevent him from revealing to a group of impressionable youngsters just how exactly Leslie got the bill passed. It was a heartwarming, understated moment for Tom, who sometimes has a tendency to go over-the-top a little.


Meanwhile, Andy and Ron help a woman named Diane (Lucy Lawless, of Battlestar Galactica, among other things) fill a pot-hole in front of her house, and as Ron reassures Chris towards the end of the episode, that’s definitely not a euphemism for anything. Despite the conspicuous lack of euphemisms however, Ron does develop feelings for her, obviously attracted to her frank demeanor and curt attitude. “I’m a middle school vice-principle. I don’t screw around. Does that freak you out?” She asks him, and then the two agree to go out on a date sometime. The comedic highlight of this subplot, and the episode, was bar none the interactions between Andy and Diane’s two children. It’s not exactly surprising that Andy would immediately indulge in a game of fairy princess, but it’s hilarious nonetheless. The interplay between Andy and Ron during this sequence was just delightful, and I will never stop being amused by Ron’s insistence on calling Andy, “Andrew”.

Meanwhile, in D.C., April and Ben attempt to road trip to Pawnee for the weekend to visit their respective significant others. It’s a slight but amusing subplot, as April and Ben are forced to bond a little bit. It’s funny to me that we haven’t gotten a storyline like this yet, seeing as how the two have been roommates since the middle of season three. Watching April’s increasing exasperation as the heights of Ben’s geekiness came to light was a thing to behold. “I will murder you.” She tells him, after he subjects her to his a piece of his Star Trek fan fiction.


Other Thoughts

Leslie Knope: Ashamed Councilwoman.

April on why she and Ben should go to Pawnee for the weekend: “I miss Andy and you probably miss your lover, Chris.”

Hey! Leslie is still cleaning up that river like she said she would in the premiere. I was wondering if it would be a one-off type of thing or not, but it looks like Leslie’s quest to clean the Pawnee river will continue throughout at least the first few episodes of this season.

April is like the little sister Ben never had, “Because the little sister I do have is normal and not terrifying,” Ben clarifies.

“That large boy is my colleague. We’re from the parks department.”

Councilman Dexhart was notably absent from this episode, but his nameplate is onscreen for a few seconds during the voting scene. One can only assume that he’s off getting into hilariously over the top sex scandals.

Tom, smoking a cigar for the first time: “I do not like this.”

What did you all think of “How A Bill Becomes a Law”? Comment below.

By Chris Vanjonack

Visit the Official Parks & Recreation site.

Chris Vanjonack