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'Parks and Recreation': Goodbye, Rob Lowe?

rob-lowe_320.jpg Image Credit: Danny Feld/NBCA moment of silence, please, for the power couple that was Chris and Ann. Sure, they weren’t the show’s best-loved union – that honor goes to April and Andy, though Ben and Leslie might take it when they finally hook up – but those crazy kids really did seem to make sense together.

Their split came as the result of Chris finally moving back to Indianapolis. Since Chris is no longer living in Pawnee – and since he’s no longer attached to Ann – this seems to imply that Rob Lowe’s stint on Parks and Rec has come to an end. (At the very least, it’s going to be difficult to integrate his character into the show after this point; he’s apparently not in “Harvest Festival,” P&R’s next episode.) I’m not sure how to feel about this. Chris certainly isn’t an essential character, but he’s a lot of fun to have around. I think I’m going to end up missing his particular brand of crazy if he’s gone for awhile. [Update: Mea culpa: Lowe was added as a series regular after this episode was shot, so I guess he’s not actually going anywhere. So how will his return be explained? Speculate below!]

At least the breakup brought with it plenty of painful laughs. Let’s let Leslie explain the situation: “Sweet and beautiful Ann has never been dumped before, and Chris is such a positive person when he broke up with her she just didn’t realize it. It’s kind of understandable. Although it does kinda make you wonder how good of a nurse she is.” Well, that plus the fact that she’s always hanging around City Hall instead of making rounds at the hospital. Even the most fervent Ann-hater must have had some sympathy for her tonight. How could you not feel for someone who figured out far too late that she had been dumped… and that everyone knew that but her?

While Ann was learning that she no longer had a boyfriend, Tom, Ben, April, Andy, and Donna were having an eventful evening at The Snakehole Lounge. I loved that this storyline revolved heavily around Dennis Feinstein, the scentmaster whose fragrances Yearning and Attack were previously mentioned in a few Season 2 episodes. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the olfactory wizard of Pawnee is kind of a dick; when Tom approaches him with his homemade perfume, “Tommy Fresh,” Feinstein dismissively tells him it smells ” like somebody spilled Chinese food in a birdcage.” Tom, who dreams of becoming a studly entrepreneur like Dennis, is crushed – until a sympathetic Ben gives him a melon-tini and some encouragement. It’s great to see the show pair Ben with characters besides Leslie, revealing how he relates to other core members of the cast. Soon it’ll be difficult to remember that he only joined Parks and Rec at the end of last season.

The episode’s other subplots – April and Andy compete to get free stuff from the bar; Ron eagerly anticipates eating at his favorite Indianapolis steakhouse, only to find that it’s closed – resonated less. They were funny, but a little flimsy. All in all, putting aside the Chris/Ann developments, I could say the same for “Indianapolis” as a whole. Maybe I just feel that way because it’d be difficult for anything to approach the highs of “Ron and Tammy: Part 2” or “Media Blitz.” Still, since the show’s about to take a three-week break (the next new episode won’t air until March 17), I wish this episode had had a little more punch.

But enough about what I think. Here are some highlights from tonight:

- “February ’96. The steak? Ribeye. The whiskey? Lagavulin 16. The lady next to me? A bitch.”

- Leslie, convincing Tom to invite Ben to the “antihistamine party”: “Come on, Tom. Take him under your tiny little wing.” Thankfully, Tom’s invitation may have prevented Ben from being murdered by the owner of the motel he’s living in.

- “I want to treat April like a queen, and queens deserve flowers… and massages. Chocolate. Booze. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds. Them treasure chests, full of scarves. Different kinds of lubes that warm up when you rub ‘em on stuff!”

- Awkward Ben Moment of the Evening: Tom says, “Hey, champ!” B replies, “Hey, champ…ion.” Also, that “his drink” is a Miller Lite.

- Leslie wants Ron to stop on the way to Indianapolis so they can see Dame Gervin’s Misshapen Celebrity Castle. “It’s where Madame Toussaud’s sends all of its failed wax figures, and if you can figure out who it is, you can take it home!”

- At the Snake Hole, Andy orders a Pawnee Sunrise for April. What do you think is in one of those?

- Ron wonders, agonized, what happened to the steaks that were in Mulligan’s when it was closed down: “Do you think they got eaten?”

-  More on Dennis Feinstein: His other fragrances include Thickening, Itch, Coma, and SideBoob. All day, people pitch scents to him, like one called Sluts. His real name is Dante Fiero, but he changed it because Dennis Feinstein is much more exotic in Pawnee.

- April snags an entire tray of pigs in a blanket by telling a waiter that she’s suffering from a pork deficiency. Later, she pretends to be a waitress to get tips, telling the bartender that her dad owns the place and her name is Janet Snakehole.

- “You know what’s funny about Ann? She’s my best friend. And anyone who hurt her is someone I would murder probably.”

- Leslie’s montage of horrifying breakup stories was also pure gold. My favorite: “Skywriting isn’t always positive.”

What did you think of the episode, Pawneeans?

Originally posted February 25 2011 — 1:00 AM EST

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