Synopsis of 7×03-04: Leslie continues her bid to win over the Newton land when a surprise about a past resident comes to light. Ron continues to work with Gryzzl to sabotage Leslie’s plans, and everyone else (literally everyone else) decides that enough is enough and lock the two in the place where it all began – the Parks and Rec Department.
While I was originally not too pleased to hear that Parks and Rec was going to be shown over the course of seven weeks and in back to back format so that they could end the 13 episode season as quick as they could, I’ve been pleased with how this actually helps in telling the story. This week was a perfect mix of what we love about the show – irreverent comedy and crazy characters that made a lasting impact. To be honest, if the show had ended like that, I wouldn’t have complained. The two stand out characters have always been Leslie and Ron and their nonsensical friendship, but the second episode of the night sealed how important it really is to the two of them.
“William Henry Harrison” was pure comedy from beginning to end. Leslie is trying to find a way to guarantee that the land becomes hers, when out of nowhere a man steps forward to let her know that there is something of interest there – William Harrison’s hunting lodge. Do you all remember elementary school history? He’s the president who died after being in office for 32 days after catching pneumonia at his own inauguration, but Leslie doesn’t care and she rushes out to see what could potentially be the coup she needs to win in her favor.
Ron, on the other hand, is busy working with Gryzzl’s VP of Cool New Shizz (a hilarious cameo by Jorma Taccone of Lonely Island) on a way to make their brand stand out over Leslie’s efforts. In a hilarious “douchebag to English” translation by way of Tom, they decided that they need to use someone with a complete in to Pawnee to make their name stand out. I find it hard that Gryzzl would be considered outsiders when they’ve been there three years and have completely infiltrated the city with their free wifi and tablets but I digress. Ron agrees and they begin to craft a plan to bomb Leslie’s presentation about the fact that WHH lived there (although it really wasn’t anything at all, and she couldn’t even get excited about it) and that’s when Tom and Donna realize that things have gone way out of control.
As Leslie and Ron go at it after the presentation (which included the aptly named “Somebody’s Daughters Dancers”), the two take digs at each other before Ron drops the fatal bomb of, “You’re not that good at scrap booking.”
The gang gets together, and with the smart thinking of Ben, lead Ron and Leslie back to the old office under the intention of notarizing some document, but the tables have turned when they end up locking the two of them in there until they settle their differences.
Thus begins the second episode of the night, and honest to God one of the best in the whole series. Nick Offerman has always been written off as nothing more than libertarian Ron Swanson, a man who likes pretty brunettes and breakfast food, but this episode proves that he is so much more than a dry delivery of a punchline. In a perfect bottle episode, where they never leave their former home, Leslie and Ron are left to air their grievances and make amends with one another.
But things aren’t happy the entire time. As the two continue to go at it, we finally figure out just what it was that made Ron leave Parks and Rec for his construction company, and how Leslie essentially was the one who sealed the nail in the coffin for him. After Leslie rambles off ridiculous reasons that Ron would have left the department, we see in flashbacks to just how lonely Ron was once everyone left. It wasn’t just April, it wasn’t just Leslie, it was the honest to goodness fact that everyone moved on with their lives, and that the crazy and fun days of worrying about parks being built and tribute concerts were over. Here’s where Nick truly shines – showing us that there was nothing more that Ron wanted than to go back to those days, go back to the people who he had let get close to him, and go back to just being together. Ron always insisted that everyone was nothing more than a “workplace proximity associate,” but it wasn’t clear until now how close he connected with everyone.
Even to the point that he was going to ask Leslie for a job with the federal government, but she stood him up. Let that sink in – Ron Swanson was going to go and ask Leslie for a job with the federal government.
Leslie had been so harpy and stubborn up until this point, that she never once considered why Ron would have been upset by that, and she slowly starts to realize. And when the debacle that is the Morningstar incident is revealed, we get even deeper. Morningstar is an apartment complex built where Ann’s house was. Ron had torn down Ann’s house to build apartments – the place where Leslie ran to whenever there was a problem. His reasoning is simple, “People wanted to live next to your park,” but the emotional reveal still hurts.
The ending of the episode couldn’t be any happier though, when the crew finally comes in to see if the two are still alive and only end up discovering them singing incredibly wrong Billy Joel lyrics, drunk as a skunk on whiskey, and wailing on a miraculously discovered saxophone.They let them out, and they find their way to JJ’s, where the breakfast food flows. Along with my tears.
A wonderful way to wrap up a major story point in four episodes, and I can’t wait for what else is to come!