Amy Poehler wrote and directed "The Debate", her second stint as writer and first in the director's chair. Her previous script, "The Fight" is one of the best Parks and Recreation episodes ever, so I had no trepidation about seeing another episode from her. And for the most part, "The Debate" was a very strong showing. I was a little put off by the obvious flaw in Newport's debate "surprise" (the idea of Sweetums moving seemed so obviously like a threat that Leslie's response seemed more like an inevitability than a stroke of genius) but all was forgiven during Leslie's sincerely moving closing statement, and I was too busy laughing my ass off at Bobby Newport's reaction (Holy sh*t, Leslie, that was great!) to care whether it was plausible that a killer campaign manager like Kathryn Hahn's character would've ever lobbed such a softball Leslie's way. (Only really believable if you think a. she was trying to throw the election b. she thought the people of Pawnee were such rubes she could get away with it c. it's a TV show, you can't act like internal politics are supposed to make sense.)
Poehler's scripted debate was quite good at placing Lesie in uncomfortable positions, especially with Adult Film Star Brandi Maxxxx trying to establish similarities between the two of them. I also loved the long sequence where we just saw the candidates answers to questions we hadn't heard, especially for Bobby Newport apparently flip-flopping on the issue of the best James Bond.
As for the other plots, I didn't get much out of the Tom-Ann-Chris love triangle, but I appreciated that it seemed to wrap up some of it by the end of the half-hour. I especially appreciated that while Ann was moved by Tom's confession of how he really feels, she didn't take him back right away. Tom's behavior was jerky enough, especially at the debate where he could've hurt Leslie's campaign, that he needed to be put in place.
Much more fun was to be found at April and Andy's party for Leslie's big donors, from Andy trying to fit in with Pawnee's moneyed class to his stalling for time by acting out Road House. And any time Ron Swanson sings it's bound to be great.
Michael Schur has insisted that Leslie could either win or lose this election, but it's hard to imagine her losing after a performance like that.