'Parks and Recreation' Season 4 Episode Guide

Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt and Amy Poehler in the episode 'I'm Leslie Knope' from 'Parks and Recreation' Season 4
Photo courtesy of NBC

The third season of "Parks and Recreation" featured new city employees Chris and Ben settling into Pawnee, the wedding of April and Andy, and Leslie’s entry into the local city council race. In the fourth season, Leslie struggles with being unable to date Ben because of her political career, Ron confronts his first ex-wife, and Tom attempts to launch his own company.

Episode 1
“I’m Leslie Knope”
Original Airdate: September 22, 2011

Leslie hasn’t yet told Ben that she’s going to run for office, and she doesn’t know if she can bring herself to do it. Ron has been missing for weeks after running into his first ex-wife, Tammy One (Patricia Clarkson). Leslie tracks Ron down at his remote cabin, and they both decide to return to face their problems. Leslie and Ben break up, and she announces her candidacy for city council. Ron confronts Tammy One, who tells him he’s being audited by the IRS. Ron hires Andy to be Leslie’s new assistant.

Episode 2
“Ron & Tammys”
Original Airdate: September 29, 2011

Leslie tries to help Ron prepare for his IRS audit, but Tammy One arrives to take over Ron’s life. She changes him into an entirely different person because she wants him back (and has invented the whole audit). Leslie enlists Tammy Two and Ron’s mom (also named Tammy) to retrieve Ron from Tammy One’s clutches. Ann asks Chris to star in a public service announcement for the Health Department, which turns into a disaster. Tom gets Ben to look over the paperwork for his company Entertainment 720.

Episode 3
“Born & Raised”
Original Airdate: October 6, 2011

Leslie writes a book about the history of Pawnee and desperately wants it to be picked for the book club of local TV personality Joan Calamezzo. But Joan asserts that Leslie wasn’t actually born in Pawnee, and the rumor quickly spreads throughout the town. Leslie gets her birth certificate and discovers that she was actually born in Eagleton, which sends her into a crisis. She comes clean on Joan’s show and gets the book into the book club.

Episode 4
“Pawnee Rangers”
Original Airdate: October 13, 2011

Ron takes his Boy Scouts-like group the Pawnee Rangers on a camping trip, and Leslie takes her girls-only group the Pawnee Goddesses as well. The Rangers are jealous of the Goddesses’ fun camp activities since Ron only wants to teach them wilderness survival. The boys all defect to the Goddesses, but Leslie comes up with a new hardcore group for Ron to run so he can impart his wisdom. Tom and Donna take Ben along on their day of pampering because he is depressed about having broken up with Leslie. Chris meets Jerry’s gorgeous daughter and starts dating her.

Episode 5
“Meet ’n’ Greet”
Original Airdate: October 27, 2011

April and Andy throw a Halloween party at their house, and Ben is upset that they didn’t warn him. At the party, Ron spends his time fixing things around the house, and Jerry feels more and more uncomfortable seeing Chris with his daughter. Leslie hires Tom to put on a reception for her to meet business leaders as part of her campaign, but he hijacks the event to promote his company. She gets mad at him, and he reveals that Entertainment 720 is bankrupt.

Episode 6
“End of the World”
Original Airdate: November 3, 2011

Pawnee’s local cult declares that the world is ending at dawn, and spends the night holding a vigil in a local park. Leslie, Ron, Chris, Ann, and Ben all show up to keep an eye on the cult members. Leslie freaks out when a cute reporter hits on Ben, and she realizes she has to let go of their relationship. April and Andy spend the night trying to do as many things on Andy’s “bucket list” as possible, including driving to the Grand Canyon. Tom and Jean-Ralphio use the last of their Entertainment 720 money to throw a huge party before vacating their building.

Episode 7
“The Treaty”
Original Airdate: November 10, 2011

Leslie gets put in charge of the Model U.N. at Pawnee Central High School and enlists Ben, April, and Andy to help. Leslie and Ben allow their personal issues to overshadow the club’s efforts and are forced to come to an agreement about being friends. Chris worries that his budding relationship with Jerry’s daughter is falling apart, and he tries to get to the bottom of the problem with Ann’s help. Ron convinces Tom to return to his old job after the demise of Entertainment 720.

Episode 8
“Smallest Park”
Original Airdate: November 17, 2011

Leslie and Ben put together a new park that will be the smallest in Indiana, and Ben decides that following that project he’ll try to work less with the Parks Department. Leslie tries to drag out the process so that she can continue to spend time with Ben, but it just makes things harder. Finally she and Ben decide that they have to be together no matter what. Chris assigns Tom and Jerry to come up with a new logo for the department. Andy decides to take a college class, and Ron agrees to pay for his education.

Episode 9
“The Trial of Leslie Knope”
Original Airdate: December 1, 2011

When Ben and Leslie confess their relationship to Chris, he opens up an official ethics investigation. Leslie believes that she can refute all of Chris’s evidence of potential wrongdoing beyond the simple fact of the relationship, but Chris is able to find a maintenance worker who caught Leslie and Ben kissing and was bribed to keep it to himself. Leslie is worried that she’ll lose her job, but Ben takes responsibility for the whole incident and resigns, leaving her with just a two-week paid suspension.

Episode 10
“Citizen Knope”
Original Airdate: December 8, 2011

During her suspension, Leslie is going crazy with nothing to do, since her advisors want her to wait for opinion polls before going back to campaigning. She ends up polling at just one percent, so her advisors quit and her campaign appears to be over. While Leslie is away, her co-workers try to create a perfect Christmas present for her. They make a gingerbread replica of the office, and also offer to run her campaign so she doesn’t have to quit. Ben interviews for various private-sector jobs, but decides to instead take time to figure out what he really wants to do.

Episode 11
 “The Comeback Kid”
Original Airdate: January 12, 2012

Leslie relaunches her campaign with Ann as her campaign manager and the rest of her co-workers as her campaign team. Ann tries to convince a former high-school basketball star to re-create his famous slam dunk at Leslie’s campaign rally. The preparation for Leslie’s rally is a complete failure. Chris tries to help Ben cheer up instead of wallowing in his depression at home. After the disastrous rally, Leslie hires Ben to be her new campaign manager.

Episode 12
 “Campaign Ad”
Original Airdate: January 19, 2012

Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd), the moronic heir to the Sweetums fortune, is running for city council against Leslie and is way ahead in the polls. Ben proposes a negative campaign ad, but Leslie wants her campaign to stay positive. Ben creates a more balanced ad, which attracts attention online. Leslie and Ben meet with a whiny Bobby Newport and strengthen their resolve to beat him. Andy and April discover health insurance and go to the doctor for the first time in years.

Episode 13
 “Bowling for Votes”
Original Airdate: January 26, 2012

After a member of a focus group says that Leslie doesn’t seem like someone he would go bowling with, she decides she needs to prove that she’s fun. The campaign hosts a bowling night for Leslie to interact with the public, but she’s obsessed with winning over the guy from the focus group. When the guy acts like a jerk, Ben punches him. Jerry, Chris, April, Andy, and Donna compete to raise the most money for Leslie during a phone drive. Jerry’s daughter arrives and breaks up with Chris.

Episode 14
 “Operation Ann”
Original Airdate: February 2, 2012

Leslie decides that she needs to help Ann find a man for Valentine’s Day. At the Parks Department’s Valentine’s Day dance, Chris (heartbroken over his breakup with Jerry’s daughter) DJs and plays horribly depressing music, while Ann meets a parade of pathetic suitors. Leslie sends Ben on a crazy scavenger hunt to find out where their Valentine’s Day date is, and he enlists Andy and Ron to help him. Ann secretly ends up on a date with Tom.

Episode 15
 “Dave Returns”
Original Airdate: February 16, 2012

After his date with Ann, Tom gets overly enthusiastic about their budding relationship, and it drives Ann crazy. Andy writes a theme song for Leslie’s campaign and enlists everyone in the department to sing on the recording. Leslie meets with the police chief to try to get his endorsement and runs into her ex-boyfriend Dave (Louis C.K.), who’s in town for the chief’s retirement party. At dinner with Leslie and Ben, Dave tells Leslie he’s still in love with her, and she has to fend him off.

Episode 16
 “Sweet Sixteen”
Original Airdate: February 23, 2012

Ron tells Leslie that she needs to take a leave of absence to work on her campaign, but Leslie insists that she can take care of her job duties and her campaign. She attempts to plan a surprise birthday party for Jerry, which turns into a disaster. She finally agrees to cut back to 10 hours a week at work while still campaigning. Tom and Ann fight over a bunch of silly things and keep complaining to April about each other, and she inadvertently helps them become closer. Chris bonds with Andy and April’s dog Champion.

Episode 17
 “Campaign Shake-Up”
Original Airdate: March 1, 2012

While he’s off cavorting with women in Spain, Bobby Newport hires a tough, experienced new campaign manager (Kathryn Hahn) who undermines Leslie’s ideas and humiliates her in the media, causing Leslie and Ben to worry that their comeback in the polls will be short-lived. Chris wants to hire a new employee to pick up the slack from Leslie cutting back on her hours, but Ron resists. Ron gets the department to pull off a major project to prove they don’t need help, and April steps up to lead. Ron convinces her to take on some of Leslie’s duties so Chris doesn’t need to hire anyone.

Episode 18
Original Airdate: March 8, 2012

Leslie lands a big interview on an important Indianapolis talk show, but she has to do it right after she’s been out drinking with Ann and Tom. She gets into a fight with the condescending host (Sean Hayes) and tries to get him not to air the segment. The footage gets lost at the airport, though, so it can’t be aired. After passing his women’s studies class, Andy invites his professor out for dinner with him, April, Ron, and Chris. April tries to set the lonely Chris up with the professor, but the professor hooks up with Ron instead.

Episode 19
 “Live Ammo”
Original Airdate: April 19, 2012

Leslie convinces a city councilor to cancel budget cuts to the Parks Department, but the cuts end up causing the closure of an animal shelter instead. When Leslie’s alternative solution leads to Ann’s job being slated for elimination, Leslie convinces Bobby Newport’s campaign manager to have Bobby use his personal fortune to save the animal shelter. As part of the vetting process for being promoted to the assistant city manager, Ron has to go with Chris to a meditation center. Chris offers Ron the promotion, but then Chris learns that if Bobby Newport is elected, Chris will lose his job.

Episode 20
 “The Debate”
Original Airdate: April 26, 2012

Leslie gets ready for her debate with Bobby Newport and the other city council candidates. Ann and Tom break up, and Chris decides to move in on Ann. She rebuffs his advances and leaves the door open to getting back together with Tom. April and Andy host a debate-watching party for Leslie's biggest donors at their house, but they can't watch the debate because Andy forgot to pay the cable bill. At the debate, Bobby says that if Leslie wins, Sweetums may leave Pawnee, but Leslie crushes him with her closing statement.

Episode 21
 “Bus Tour”
Original Airdate: May 3, 2012

Leslie takes a bus tour of Pawnee for one final campaign push. When Bobby Newport’s father dies, his campaign manager calls for Leslie to suspend her campaign, but Leslie pushes forward. She’s branded insensitive by the media, but after meeting with Bobby, she ends up with his endorsement. Chris tries to find things to do to distract himself from his depression. Tom, Donna, and Ron negotiate with an inconsiderate business owner to get the vans that the campaign has rented for election day.

Episode 22
 “Win, Lose or Draw”
Original Airdate: May 10, 2012

On Election Day, the vote comes down to the wire, with Bobby Newport at first winning by 21 votes, and then Leslie winning by the same margin. She’s declared the final winner and will be seated on the city council. Bobby Newport’s campaign manager offers Ben a job in Washington, D.C., and at first, he declines, but Leslie tells him he needs to follow his dreams, so he goes for it. Ron turns down the promotion to the assistant city manager. April accidentally deletes all the computer files at the Parks Department when she’s left in charge, but Donna retrieves them.