Halloween in Pawnee – also known as Trick or Treat Yo Self – was a grab bag of sorts, with most of the goodies inside “Meet N Greet” turning out to be quite tasty: A sweet-filled moment here, a switcheroo there, and, of course, a genuine horror show (at least for Jerry). Let’s get those salty fingers scrolling down the screen and break down the fifth episode of this season.
It was bound to happen. Tom Haverford was headed for a fall: No douche who thinks he has it in the bag is going to get what he wants without a lot of T-Pain and suffering. As we remember, the cartoonish Tom suddenly became real, redeemable, and vulnerable when his green card marriage fell apart. And here again, as he came to terms with the fact that he’d run his dream media business, E720, into the ground, his humanity bubbled to the surface of the hot tub. (Holy crap was that a long limo.)
Of course, he went down kicking and scheming. At the beginning of the episode, he received bad news – bad enough to make the sadly-absent Jean-Ralphio weep on the other end of the phone line — but we were not privy to the blow: E720 was tripping a C11! (Chapter 11? Come on!) Instead of facing reality, though, Tom transformed Leslie’s meet-and-greet – her big opportunity to woo the business community as part of her campaign to run for city council – into an glammy, tone-deaf E720 infoseminarmercial, complete with Warholian diptychs of Tom hanging on the wall. (Did Mr. Business himself, Martin Kerston, of Kerston Rubber Nipples, look a little like Warhol but with worse hair? And, oh, how I reveled in the reveal of each Pawnee business owners, tiny captains of industry who ran Enormous Kenny’s Fried Dough Stand and Mobile Phone Emporium, Smooth Operator Bikini Waxes and Jeff’s Savings and Loan.)
After alienating everyone – the hotted-up E720 Mailing List Divas were the final straw – Tom was left to cool off in the mobile jacuzzi, where Leslie confronted/semi-drowned him before he poured his heart out about failing as a tycoon-in-training. (How soon until he gets his old job back? Or will he get new responsibilities?) Tom further redeemed himself not just by groveling to Martin — and bribing him with grooming implements — to give Leslie another shot, but by also using his skillz to make a heartfelt political ad that championed Leslie in all the right ways. (“The year was 1975. It was a time of trouble. Watergate, Vietnam. Peter Gabriel leaves Genesis. But then: A ray of hope. Leslie Barbara Knope…”) Tears streaming down her face, Leslie was typically lovable. Referencing film legend Mary Pickford, she smartly noted: “This thing we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down. Tom won’t be down for long.”
Tom wasn’t the only one down in this episode. If there were an LFMAO song to sum up Ben’s frame of mind in this episode, it might be called, “Party Pout is in the House Tonight.” Still reeling from the loss of his lovely Leslie, Ben returned to his apartment that he shares with April and Andy (for reasons that make for better comedy than logic), and he was accosted by a skeleton and the discovery that his roomies were planning a Halloween party. Without telling him. And so he would boycott his own party, bah-humbugging his way around the place, tending to printer/fax-based duties while everyone else celebrated. (The Best Use of a Costume goes to April, for what she did with Jerry’s Mr. Potato Head outfit — more on that later — while the scariest costume goes to Orin, who lurked as himself. It was a little disappointing not to see Tom in a costume, though you could argue that we pretty much get that every week.)
April, as a Biggest Loser-winning sumo wrestler, and Andy, as UFC legend Chuck Liddell, tag-team taunted Ben for a bit before Andy made it his mission to figure out what was bugging the party pooper. Raised by parents who dealt with their problems by hinting at them before winding up divorced, though, the emotionally constipated Ben wasn’t talking. So the emotionally stunted Andy employed his own family method of communication — wrestle it out — and dragged Ben around in a headlock, which he vowed not to release until Ben started spilling. (The Ben-Andy dynamic is not entirely dissimilar from the Ben-Tom dynamic — it’s lower-energy rationality versus amped-up absurdity, common sense versus nonsense — but it still finds its own delightful rhythms.) Only when Ben finally fought back and broke Andy’s nose did the blood and feelings flow. Ben had his carthasis in a batsuit two weeks ago; at the hospital, he unloaded a bit on Andy, telling him to respect his boundaries and not use his bedroom as a “common space.” Andy took it all well; in fact, he even referred to Ben as his brother and asked him for $5600 to pay for some Mouse Rat studio time.
NEXT: Jerry becomes one sad potato