In “Bowling for Votes,” Leslie’s team tests Leslie’s campaign ad on a focus group, asking them whether they would vote for her or not. You’d think a lot of people would want to vote for Leslie, since she’s so positive about improving Pawnee and helping other people. Yet, she doesn’t get the best reviews. One person comments that he probably isn’t going to vote for her, as she seems “uptight” and isn’t someone he’d want to go bowling with. The bowling comment is a real blow to Leslie, and Ben attempts to reassure Leslie by telling her that she just needs to show the public that she can have fun. And with that, Leslie decides to organize a bowling event to promote her campaign.
At the bowling alley, Tom shows up in an outfit that seems to be channeling Ryan Gosling’s jacket from Drive and Jay-Z and Kanye West (“what’s Louis, my killa?”). Ron is also at the bowling alley, too, as it apparently has his “favorite restaurant in Pawnee.” Although this life choice is something that most people would question, you have to remember that Ron Swanson isn’t “most people.” It obviously doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Ron is also good at bowling. What does come as a surprise, though, is the level of skill Tom has, especially considering the technique that he uses.
The others—Jerry, Donna, Andy, April, and Chris—are calling Pawnee citizens to contribute to Leslie’s campaign. Jerry is in charge of this endeavor, and he decides to turn it into a competition, with the person who raises the most money by the end of the night winning two movie tickets (which, honestly, would be more than enough incentive for me to work hard on anything). No one’s really responding to the incentive, though, except Chris, who always works hard on everything anyways. Chris’ enthusiasm for the job prompts April to want to win, because she wants “his happiness to go away,” which actually seems like it’ll happen soon, as apparently Jerry’s daughter Millie is planning on breaking up with Chris.
Back at the bowling alley, Leslie finds Derek—the one who said that he wouldn’t want to go bowling with Leslie—and tries to warm up to him by referencing all the things that he likes (i.e. Ice Road Truckers). While Leslie uses her charm on Derek, Ben tries to tell her that she shouldn’t just be focusing on one voter, but should try to appeal to as many people as possible. He actually uses a clever bowling metaphor by telling Leslie that she should be aiming for a strike and not just one pin.
After letting Derek win a round of bowling, Leslie asks him if he’s going to vote for her, to which he still says that he won’t. When she asks why, he flat out says that he just doesn’t like Leslie (which is completely rude of him). Leslie and Derek start to get into an argument, which gets out of hand really fast when he says that he’ll just “write in bitch” on the voting ballot, at which point Ben punches him. It’s a pretty awesome moment for Ben, actually, and Leslie thinks so too as she gives him a kiss. Unfortunately the paparazzi think the kissing is great, too, which results in Leslie apologizing at a press conference for her behavior at the bowling alley.
The best part, though, is when Leslie realizes that she isn’t sorry, because Derek was the one who was being a total jerk. Leslie then concludes the press conference by boldly declaring that, “If you do not vote for me, my boyfriend might beat you up.” This new, tough Leslie actually goes over well with the focus group, who now seem more willing to vote for her.
For the first time ever in Parks and Recreation history, Chris is sad, and April isn’t all that happy about it. In fact, we finally get a glimpse of the soft heart that she really has, when she offers Chris not two, but three, movie tickets, saying that she, Andy, and Chris should all go to the movies together sometime. It really was an “awww” worthy moment.
It definitely seems like Leslie isn’t going to have an easy campaign, what with Bobby Newport showing up and all the punching in bowling alleys that’s happening. Hopefully things will start looking up for Leslie soon, because Pawnee will definitely fall apart if Bobby Newport wins the election.