Parks and Recreation: “Donna & Joe” Season 7 Episode 7 Review

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Donna’s wedding may have been the backdrop for this episode, but the true story was about Ben’s future.

The show is on something of a streak now it seems, with the seventh season finally finding its footing and taking our characters to some interesting places. But first, let’s talk about Donna’s wedding.

April’s role as Maid of Honor was great for a lot of gags, as Donna put her in charge of keeping her temperamental family in order. As for the actual ceremony, Donna’s love life has hardly been explored enough to justify a big cheesy ceremony. So we got a cheesy little ceremony that broke the Parks and Rec. tradition of surprise weddings. Since Donna is hardly a Leslie or a Ron, that’s fine, this whole ceremony can be subdued. I can’t help but feel like we got to know Joe a little better beforehand though.

That said, the focus of “Donna & Joe” was hardly the newlyweds. Jen Barkley returned to offer Ben a campaign for Congress. Unsure what to do, Leslie tells him to spend the night before the wedding acting as if he’s going to run, and the day after as if he isn’t.

This leads to a very drunk Ben making people feel important and making toasts at the party the night before, with a very drunk Leslie supporting him all the way. Parks and Rec. might not be better than when its characters are drunk. The morning after, they find out Ben drunkenly called Jen the night before and said he would like to run. The rest of the episode deals with him coming to terms with that decision, and eventually welcoming it, much to Leslie’s delight.

So “Donna & Joe” ended up being about a lot more than a wedding. Ben’s run for Congress will make for an interesting back-half of this farewell season. Parks and Rec. feels like it has direction again, and that is something to be excited about as we head ever-closer to the final episode. Grade: A-

 

Other Notes from the Pawnee Newsletter:

– Ron’s storyline with Tom and Lucy was surprisingly effective. This felt like a previously unexplored romantic issue on the series, making for a fun new challenge for Tom.

– We finally saw Leslie and Ben acting as parents, with some help from SNL alum Rachel Dratch. I appreciate how little of the triplets we’ve seen this season, but these scenes were honestly pretty hysterical.

– Kathryn Hahn continues to be amazing as Jen Barkley.

– “Eight, six, seven, five, three, oh, ni-eyine!”

 

By Matt Dougherty

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