In this episode, we finally saw the return of Bobby Newport to Pawnee as well as the resurfacing of a few of the other (hilarious) fringe candidates that haven’t been seen for several episodes, all of whom go head to head with Leslie in televised debate.

The campaign team is broken down into two groups: Ann, Tom, and Chris are the “spin team” who’s responsible for handling questions from reporters while Ron, April, Andy, and Donna are to throw a dinner for the campaign donors to eat while watching the debate on TV.

It soon becomes clear that this might not be the best idea since the “spin team” is also comprised of the awkward office love triangle that has been hinted at thus far with cutaway camera shots. Tom and Ann have broken up (for reals this time) and Tom spends the first five minutes of the episode pouting adorably in the corner.

Chris sees this breakup as a chance to ask Ann out again. He unfortunately does this just as Tom appears with an apologetic bouquet of flowers and an intention to take April’s advice and explain his feelings to Ann in a non-Tom way.

Meanwhile, back at April and Andy’s, they turn on the TV to tune into the debate, but find that Andy hasn’t paid the cable bill. Andy starts regaling the guests by acting scenes from his favorite movies to keep them entertained while Ron climbs the poles outside to steal a cable feed.

As April and co. are waiting, the debate begins with a reintroduction to some of the other candidates besides Bobby Newport that are running for city council as well.

There’s this guy (who owns the most brilliantly named gun emporium ever):

This gal, who hilariously draws parallels between herself and Leslie throughout the debate (right down to dressing like her):

And this guy:

Yeah, there’s a reason these have been the fringe candidates. Anyways, not only are the fringe candidates’ open mouth, insert foot answers to the questions amusing, many other small jokes such as the moderator’s comment about questions from Twitter (“Apparently that’s something that happens now”), Bobby’s “I’m against crime and not ashamed to admit it” spiel à la Rick Perry and promise to have a fully functional mall on Jupiter by 2016, and streams of irrelevant questions and empty rhetoric are all great ways to make fun of the absurdities that have occurred in the current GOP elections this year. The moderators’ mix of obvious bias and incompetence also make the entire debate scene the best scene of the season.

My favorite moment is when Brandi Maxxxx propositions her fellow candidates to be costars in her next film and Leslie’s face looks like this:

And we cut to Bobby’s face, which looks like this:

Midway through the debate, we cut back to the spin room where Tom’s aggressive apathy is not helping. Ann confronts him and Tom finally breaks down and tells her the truth behind his swag-tastically overcompensating behavior.

The debate is going well until Bobby drops the bombshell that the Sweetums factory, to which Bobby is the heir, might move out of Pawnee to Mexico unless he can convince them to stay. Leslie finally gives a stirring closing statement, accusing Bobby of holding Pawnee hostage, that drives the audience into thunderous applause that even Bobby joins in on.

At the end, Ann turns down Chris but doesn’t get back together with Tom either, bringing the triangle to an end. I’m actually happy with this development because it is hinted that we might see Tom trying to approach the relationship with Ann in a more serious way, which I think will be interesting to see. Overall, I adored the episode. It was one of the most enjoyable episodes of the season and got me re-excited about the campaign storyline.

If you have seen the episode, what did you think? How are you feeling about the Tom/Ann/Chris situation? Did you enjoy the debate? What was your favorite reenactment by Andy?