Credit: Mitch Haddad/NBC
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. on NBC Stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari What to expect: Leslie (Poehler) heads to…

Damnit, Chris Traeger! Your stupid office romance ban is ruining lives — specifically, Leslie’s and Ben’s. Those two wildflower mural-loving nerdburgers are meant to be, but Chris’s pesky policy is keeping them apart. (Where was it last week when Andy and April got married? I suppose shoe shinists aren’t under Chris’s purview.) Ah well; after all, the course of true love never did run smooth.

That’s the main takeaway from tonight’s installment of Parks and Rec, in which Leslie dipped a toe into the online dating pool after being rejected without explanation by Ben. After good ol’ Ann helped her BFF make her profile appealing rather than man-repelling (“Yellow-haired female likes waffles and news” became “Sexy, well-read blonde loves the sweeter things in life”), Knope was in business. The good news? Soon enough, they found that someone on the Indiana-centric dating site —; nice work, punsters! — was a 98 percent match for Leslie. The bad news? That person was the last person Leslie would ever want to go on a date with, besides Chris the MRI technician: Tom Haverford.

So, after warily observing Tom yell at a customer service rep over some unsatisfying under-eye cream, Leslie took him to lunch, promising that she’d even spring for apps and ‘zerts. (More on those later.) The meal didn’t go as well as she was hoping, of course; though the site’s algorithm found Tom and Leslie to be a virtual perfect match, in reality, they proved to be about as compatible as Ron Swanson and a slice of veggie bacon. Then Leslie made the fatal mistake of telling Tom why she had asked him to lunch, and he proceeded to tease her mercilessly… until she figured out how to shut him up for good. I think I could watch the moment when Leslie planted one on Tom and told him he “should be so lucky” to be dating her over and over again. (GIFers, on your marks — get set — GO!)

As Leslie was trying to escape her romantic rut, Ron and Chris were locked in an epic battle to prove once and for all what tastes better: health food or hamburgers. It should not be difficult to guess which ended up winning, since this is Pawnee, the fourth most obese city in the nation. (Though on the whole, the citizens we’ve seen tend to be pretty trim; if the show really wants us to believe Pawnee’s actually a fat town, they’re going to have to start casting some overweight background actors.) Ron’s jaunt to the health food store was amusing, but it also seemed a little too easy. We get that Ron f—in’ Swanson is a man’s man who loves animal flesh and hates vegetables; now it’s time to make some jokes about different facets of him before his character grows stale.

In all, “Soulmates” was a little too disjointed for me, especially since the two plots barely intersected with one another. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t find plenty of highlights in this episode, such as:

– Tom’s litany of weird names for things was so epic that I want to memorize it. Here it is, in its entirety: “‘Zerts are what I call desserts. Tray-trays are entrees. I call sandwiches sammies, sandoozles, or Adam Sandlers. Air conditioners are cool-blasterz, with a z. I don’t know where that came from. I call cakes big ol’ cookies. I call noodles long-ass rice. Fried chicken is fri-fri chicky-chick. Chicken parm is chicky chicky parm parm. Chicken cacciatore? Chicky catch. I call eggs pre-birds, or future birds. Root beer is super water. Tortillas are bean blankies. And I call forks…. Food rakes.” Be still, my heart!

– Chris asks Ron if he’s ever had a turkeyburger. Ron’s response: “Is that a fried turkey leg inside a grilled hamburger? If so, yes. Delicious.”

– Chris: “What do I get if I win?” Ron: “The rarest jewel of all: Victory over me. Ron Swanson.”

– Leslie loves dogs, cats, and fish, but isn’t big on turtles. “They’re condescending.”

– Andy reveals that his favorite food is Skittles mashed between two Starbursts. “I call it Andy’s Mouth Surprise.”

– Ron buys all of his food, and most of his stuff, at Food ‘n Stuff.

– Chris, who catches Leslie kissing Tom, lets her know that she could get suspended if she can’t “keep [her] mouth to [her]self.”

– Oh, hello there, Kyle! Andy’s favorite shoe shine stand punching bag shows up as a judge of Chris and Ron’s cookoff. When he says that he enjoys the “umami flavor” of Chris’s turkeyburger, Jerry snaps, “Stop being so pretentious.” Does that mean that Kyle is Jerry’s Jerry?

– Turns out the only reason Tom and Leslie were a match is because Tom has a whopping 26 profiles on Leslie got paired with Tom N. Haverford; the “n” stands for “nerd.” As Tom explains, “I never even check that one because no one ever responds to it. Tom N. Haverford, collects globes! His favorite movie is books!”

How did you like “Soulmates,” PopWatchers?

Episode Recaps

Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. on NBC Stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari What to expect: Leslie (Poehler) heads to…
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