I loved him. He's a total pushover. Odd guy, though. He's like a goofy, spineless jellyfish. Why do you ask, sweetheart?
Marlene Griggs-Knope

"The Bubble" is the fifteenth episode of season 3 of the NBC television series Parks and Recreation. It originally aired on May 19, 2011 to 4.27 million viewers.

Storyline Edit

The Parks Department welcomes Ann Perkins to her new office at Pawnee City Hall and fills it with balloons, much to the chagrin of her cranky officemate Stuart. Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt are dating, but they are keeping their relationship a secret due to a no-dating policy at work. They are enjoying what Leslie calls "the bubble", or the beginning of a relationship when everything is simple and fun. It is suddenly threatened, however, when Ben has a meeting with Leslie's mother Marlene Griggs-Knope, a notoriously tough politician in the Pawnee school system, who wants Ben to approve the purchase of four new school buses despite a difficult budget season. Afraid of ruining the bubble, Leslie initially tells Ben she is not related to Marlene. Right before Ben's meeting, however, Leslie admits Marlene is her mother, making him nervous and causing him to capitulate to all of her demands during the meeting. Marlene considers Ben weak, so Leslie becomes determined to prove that he is a tough boss to impress Marlene.

Meanwhile, Chris Traeger has enacted numerous changes to the Parks Department: he promotes Jerry Gergich to Public Relations Director, appoints April Ludgate as everyone's assistant, places Tom Haverford on the nightmarish fourth floor with Andy Dwyer as his temporary assistant, and makes Ron Swanson sit in the middle of a circular desk after the removal of his office, to force him to interact with people. Ron believes everything will eventually go back to normal as it has with past city managers that implemented drastic changes. However, Donna Meagle is concerned the overly-determined Chris will not do so and demands that Ron talk to him. On the fourth floor, Tom's attempts to charm some of the elderly women, including Ethel Beavers and Muriel into doing his work but fails miserably, as they ignore him and all adore Andy and April.

Leslie trains Ben for his next meeting with her mother. He impresses Marlene so much with his tough negotiation skills that she becomes flirtatious with him. An uncomfortable Ben tells Leslie they should tell her about their relationship, but Leslie does not want to lose the bubble. Fed up, Ben storms into Marlene's office and tells her that he is dating her daughter and asks her to keep it secret. Marlene laughs off the situation and tells Leslie that she approves of Ben. Meanwhile, Ron tells Chris the changes do not play to his staff's strengths and decides to compromise: if Chris returns everything to the way it was, he will remain in the desk for another week. Chris complies. Nevertheless, Tom is frustrated with the experience and begins to contemplate leaving his City Hall job to pursue his own entrepreneurial interests.


Leslie: And you have an officemate, his name is Stewart. And he's kind of a grouch.
Ann: I have an officemate?

Stewart: Get these f***ing balloons out of here.

Leslie: You know what I should do? I should get my mother a one way ticket to London, leaving today. That way Ben never has to meet her and I could visit her in London. Everybody wins.

Chris: Jerry, I believe you are capable of much more.

Jerry: I'm not.

Ron: This is my favorite part about having a new city manager. They always try to shake things up and their ideas are terrible and it brings city hall to a grinding halt. I just grab a few donuts, sit back, and enjoy the show.

Andy: (gasps) Chris! I wasn't super paying attention to what you just said we would be doing, but I will give it 110%! As soon as you repeat yourself in a more interesting way.

Tom: There's a whole room on the fourth floor where they store the knives they've confiscated from people who went to the fourth floor to stab someone.

Tom: Well, well, well, if it isn't Ethel Beavers! What's up, beautiful? Julianne Moore just called, she wants her hair back.

Ethel Beavers: Here's your nametags.
Tom: Ethel, this shirt is from Theory. Nametags make holes. I'm not wearing this. [throws nametag on ground]
Ethel Beavers: Do what you want.
Andy: [laughing] Bye, Ethel!
Tom: Remind me to ask her next time where she was when Lincoln got shot.
Andy: [writing] Remind...Tom...ask...something... You got it, boss!

Ben: Should we talk about how you claimed your mom was a Filipino woman you've never met?

Leslie: Should we? I was just trying to delay the inevitable. If this turns into something real, then we're going to have to deal with Chris' rule, and parents and annoying flossing habits and a lot of un-fun stuff. But not yet. I just want to enjoy the bubble for a little while. I'm sorry. Everything's good?
Ben: No, it's not. I was completely flustered. I came off like an idiot. At one point, for no reason, I just took off my shoes. And held them in my hand.
Leslie: I'm going to go ask her how it went and I bet she loved you.
Marlene: I loved him. He's a total pushover. Odd guy, though. He's like a goofy, spineless jellyfish. Why do you ask, sweetheart?
Leslie: No reason.

Leslie: When I first met you, I thought you were a fascist hard ass.
Ben: What?

Chris: Ron Swanson!
Ron: Chris, you have come up with a plan so spectacularly horrible that it might ruin the entire department.
Chris: Now wait a minute...
Ron: I mean that as a compliment. So it pains me to say this: my department has to go back to the way it was.
Chris: Give them time. They'll adjust.
Ron: No they won't. They're miserable. Tom only performs when there's someone to impress, so marooning him on freak island isn't helping anyone. And you made April assistant to everyone? You know who April hates? Everyone. And Jerry can only function if no one is looking. You shine a light on him and he shrinks up faster than an eskimo's scrotum.
Chris: That's very perceptive, Ron. And very graphic.

Andy: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I read that once, on a can of lemonade. I like to think it applies to... life.