Despite all odds that have stacked against the show for years, Parks and Recreation is about to hit its milestone 100th episode when it returns next week. However, before the big day, several changes have been set up for the show’s future in the four episodes that were broadcast in the middle of November. It does feel a bit unfair to try and describe them all in a brief review or recap, so I’d like to go by character to try and encapsulate what happened to them in four episodes.
Leslie Knope – Leslie by far is the one who goes through the biggest changes in the episode because despite her hard work for Pawnee and a last minute Wendy Davis-esque filibuster to protect the voting rights of the former Eagleton residents instead of going to Ben’s skating party, Leslie is recalled and is set to be replaced by Ingrid De Forest (Kristen Bell). After a depressive drunken Halloween bender with her and Ben dressed as Buttercup and Westley nearly getting tattooes from the creepy guy who runs the pawn shop, Ann reminds Leslie of who she is and she gets to work on getting some last pieces of legislation passed, including a fight to get fluoride in the drinking water that ultimately gets Ben fired from Sweetums and a last ditch effort to appeal to Jamm in order to get the money to break ground on the park by Ann’s house so she can convince Ann to stay. Luckily, Leslie gets the money with Chris’s help and prepares herself for a future without Ann and not being on the city council.
Ben Wyatt – Yeah, Ben gets fired because Leslie speaks out against Sweetums in her bender to get fluoride in the drinking water, but as Leslie sets out to apologize to get his job back, Ben decides that it isn’t worth it to go back to a company that will only use their charity department to clean up their messes. Which is awesome considering how much Ben was lamenting that he peaked at 18 during the drunken Halloween bender. He picks up a job at the accounting firm that keeps trying to hire Ben (after spending a week unemployed creating the world’s best Catan knockoff known as The Cones of Dunshire) and really seems to enjoy himself, but has to quit after Chris offers him the job as CITY MANAGER. REDEMPTION, THY NAME IS BEN WYATT. Also, Ben has a thing for women in roller skates, and Leslie filibustering in roller skates is apparently a crazy sex fantasy for him. Never change, Wyatt.
Tom Haverford – After a last ditch effort to save his business by appealing to Pawnee socialite and Bloosh curator Annabel Porter, Tom ends up selling Rent-A-Swag to Dr. Saperstein, but isn’t feeling too down on himself because he manages to finagle enough seed money from the deal for his next business venture. I love seeing Tom learn from his mistakes with Entertainment 720. He also helps Leslie convince the town that they need fluoride in their drinking water as well as attempts to help Ron sell his cabin while managing to be cute with his two week girlfriend Nadia (played by Tatiana Maslany). It may not seem like it sometimes, but I feel like Tom in season 6 has really grown from Tom in season 1.
April Ludgate – April doesn’t have a lot of major storylines in this set of episodes besides dealing with Andy being away on Halloween (and admitting that Chris and Ann are cute), telling Andy that no one really has anything figured out, and subtly making fun of hipsters who want to buy Ron’s cabin. However, in a twist, she manages to buy Ron’s cabin from him for the contents of her purse as well as some of Jerry’s belongings. I’m wondering if that’s going to play into some episode in the future.
Andy Dwyer – Yes, Andy came back! Well, for an episode between Chris Pratt shooting scenes for Guardians of the Galaxy. He’ll be back permanently in the 100th episode. Anyway, he comes back to visit, but has a panic about his career when leaving to the point he jumps into a dumpster. He tells April that he has no idea what he’s doing, but April assures him that no one really knows what they’re doing and that everyone fakes it until it they do. Which is… weirdly reassuring for April, but also proves why they’re good for each other. It’s good to see Andy leave confidently, but I look forward to jetlagged Andy when he gets back.
Ann Perkins – Even as Ann preps to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan (BOOOOO!), she still manages to be the very best friend in existence to Leslie when she’s upset over getting recalled that she snaps her back to reality. Because you don’t send a husband to do a best friend’s job. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE, ANN. (Also, Tom and Nadia steal a giant teddy bear from her at one point and it’s hilariously terrible.)
Chris Traeger – As Ann preps to leave, Chris stays to finish up last minute things in Pawnee. Including helping Leslie get the money from Jamm to start construction on the Pawnee Commons, helping her come to terms with the fact Ann is leaving, offering the City Manager job to Ben, and building a crib with Ron. The crib building was a bit weird because he kept thinking Ron was trying to teach him lessons about parenting, but I don’t expect anything less from Chris. He also tries to cheer April up on Halloween, which gets April to admit that he is a good guy despite her grouchiness.
Ron Swanson – Ron continues to be awesome by:
- Bonding with Donna over deer hunting, both real and video game,
- Refusing to mass produce or market his chairs and not even being tempted by Annabel Porter’s money,
- Building a crib and giving it to Chris all while never realizing that Moby Dick is a giant metaphor,
- and selling his cabin to April and not the weirdo hipsters or the guy who wanted to use the cabin’s land for glamping.
I heart you forever, Ron.
Donna Meagle – Of course, Donna is the actual best forever for not giving a futz about Ron hunting at night, buying herself a leather jacket for Ron getting into Bloosh and geeking out over all the weird luxury stuff at the reception, bonding with April a little bit when April realizes that Donna isn’t the most like any dog but a cat, and helping Ron sell his cabin. Donna doesn’t need to change because she’s an actual queen.
Jerry Gergich – He’s still being called “Larry Gengurch” by the department. Accept it now. It’s his name forever.
Parks and Recreation comes back on January 9th with the 100th episode ‘Second Chunce.’ Are you ready for all the changes coming to Pawnee?