Posted by Sage
Everyone, just stop. Stop what you’re doing. No more progress, please. I cannot look forward to a future where Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson aren’t friends.
Yes, it’s 2017 in the Parks universe, and a lot of things have changed. But some haven’t. Despite her relative power, Leslie is still waging battles with Goliath-sized opponents. Her big challenge in this final (gulp) season presented itself within a few short minutes after she and Ben exited the elevator they got onto at the end of last year’s “Moving Up.” The Newport Group has decided to sell off a tasty chunk of pristine land. Leslie wants it for her legacy: a National Park right in Pawnee. Gryzzl, the booming tech company now based there, wants it for their new campus. It’s the federal government vs. be-flanneled gamer techie bros, and guess who’s got the cash to keep Jessica Wicks in Chanel skirt suits.
Of course, Leslie’s motivations aren’t all professional. In besting Gryzzl, she’s also seeking to crush Ron, “former strange person that I used to friend” and the company’s “normcore” developer. The reveal of the Knope/Swanson rift really threw a bucket of ice water on my joy at having my show back. I know it will be corrected – Parks and Rec leads with its optimism. But for now it just feels wrong. What’s worse is that the feud has been apparently going on for the majority of these unseen years. “Morningstar” – a word that shouldn’t be said out loud, “like Voldemort or Ron” – is the “Budapest” of Parks. What the hell happened there? Natasha? Clint? Anybody?
Whatever went down, it was painful enough to break up Pawnee’s premier mentor/mentee pair. To no one’s surprise, Leslie assigns all the blame to Ron and continues to hold grudges like a motherfucker. There’s no room in her interpretation of events for practical differences of opinion or going down different roads. Ron abandoned her and their friendship; he is now a bad guy; and her righteous fury must be satisfied. This is going to be a fun season.
Personal divisions aside, all of our friends are doing pretty great. Ben and Leslie are kiiiiiind of the first couple of Pawnee. Donna and Tom are getting that paper via their real estate and restaurant empires, respectively. Andy and April did not get a divorce just for funsies, much to my relief. We worried after this time jump that the premiere would find someone living with his or her failure. What we didn’t expect is what we got. And what we got is far more devastating. Some of them just sort of…lost touch.
So this finale season will be about Leslie’s bid for immortality. But it’ll also be about our original group finding their way back to each other. And in some instances, back to themselves. Andy and April are now both gainfully employed, the Knope-Wyatts’ go-to responsible babysitters, and fond of a nice brisket. The good news is that the chance of one of them contracting hepatitis is way down. The bad news is that they’ve surrendered their individuality for comfort. (As much as the star of a karate-themed kids show and his wife can, at least.) April isn’t having it, and Andy will do whatever he has to to make his lady happy.
After they try and fail to shake up the bicentennial gala (and here’s where I point out how BANGIN’ Aubrey Plaza looked in that slinky red gown), Andy and April stumble into their destiny on the way to get renters’ insurance. The news of Werner Herzog’s cameo was leaked in the fall, but not his character. And if there’s a better use of Werner Herzog than as the long-time owner and caretaker of the nightmare house that used to be home to the people who went insane on the doll head factory assembly line, I’d like to know what is it. (“After 47 years living here, I decided to move to Orlando to be closer to Disney World.”) And bless fine and simple Andy for knowing why we kill ourselves to be self-sufficient: so we can do what we want and make each other happy. (“We are responsible adults. You know what that means. We have money, and we are going to buy the fuck out of this house.”)
Meanwhile, Tom’s flash and sentimentality are still waging war inside his own tiny body. Ben thinks that Tom was asked to introduce him at the gala, but the truth is that Tom actually made the request. Once he’s up on stage, the self-promoter in Tom takes over. (“One great man came along and he lifted all of us up…and that man was me.”) Ben is so used to being thrown over, it barely even bothers him. (“When’s Tommy ever let you down?” “Constantly.”) But it bothers Tom, because he’d intended to use the opportunity to really honor his friend and to thank him for his support. I’ve postulated in past recaps that Ben still feels the teensiest bit like an outsider in Pawnee. So Tom’s speech, even though no one else heard it, reminded him again that he’s home. And it made him do this:
- Being that I believe kids on sitcoms should be barely seen nor heard, I’m glad that the first order of business with the triplets was to explain their absence. I won’t say no to some cute dad scenes with Adam Scott though.
- They could have waited a few seconds to play Ben off-stage, considering he was the only person receiving an award that night.
- My head canon says that Tom and Donna purposely coordinated their gala outfits.
- “My son sells them on Etsy. He is a huge disappointment.” Ken! Welcome back. Keep on shaming the white man.
- “Should I take the Zantac?” “Yeah, you always feel better when you do….ugh, I hate us.”
- “Who doesn’t bake a back-up cake?”
- “Thank you, Jessica. I love you, too. I love your skin. Give me your skin.”
- Chris Pratt is still looking awfully Star-Lord. I like the way he fills out a Land Ho shirt.
So, NBC has decided to burn off the final, precious episodes of Parks and Rec. That means that each week until the finale, we’ll be getting two consecutive episodes. SO, for the first time ever, Kim and I will be splitting Parks recap duty! This is really exciting, because we’re going to get some new perspective and also because I won’t die. Her recap of “Ron and Jammy” is coming your way soon. In the meantime, leave your thoughts on the season 7 premiere in the comments!