This post discusses plot points from the October 25 episode of Parks and Recreation.
I got to see this episode of Parks and Recreation last week, which gave me a chance to go back and watch “The Master Plan,” the episode where Leslie met Ben when he first arrived in Pawnee as a state auditor. I’d remembered the basics of their inauspicious introduction: Ben arrived just in time to interrupt Leslie’s chance to fight for her department’s budget, and with the ominous news that she might even have to cut jobs. What I’d forgotten was how quickly he found himself compelled to reach out to her, and how well he read Leslie, even when she was angry at him. “Do you want a beer?” he came into her office to ask her. “You look like you could use a beer.”
Almost three seasons later, I cried at my desk watching Ben go down on his knee in the house Leslie thought she’d have to give up to let him pursue his dreams. “What are you doing?” Leslie asked him, overwhelmed. “I’m thinking about my future,” Ben told her. His touching proposal elicited some of the absolute best acting Amy Poehler and Adam Scott have done during Parks and Recreation‘s impressive run, but it was more than Leslie telling Ben ” I need another second, please. I need to remember every little thing about how perfect my life is right now, at this exact moment,” as she glanced around the empty house, that brought me to tears. Leslie and Ben are one of the most unusual couples on television, and they represent an archetype that touches me deeply: a pair where the man consistently makes sacrifices to help the woman in his life achieve everything she’s capable of, and where their relationship doesn’t always call for the woman to make symmetrical sacrifices.
Almost from their first meeting, Ben’s been deeply concerned with Leslie’s happiness. In their second episode together, he paid to keep her prized Freddie Spaghetti concert going even in the face of looming cuts to the department. When the exposure of their relationship threatened Leslie’s campaign for City Council, Ben sacrificed his job so she could keep hers and continue her run unimpeded by scandal. He devoted himself to running her campaign. And now, even with the great, amoral Jennifer telling Ben “There aren’t a lot of people that can manage a campaign. But you, Ben Wyatt, are one of them,” Ben is choosing Leslie.