Workplace Proximity Associates
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The initial decision by NBC to air the final season of Parks and Recreation was an odd one. Perhaps it was to allow scheduling room for a new arrival or they did so to boost ratings. But the second duology of the season, for lack of a better phrase, gives the best example yet of why the strategy probably works. I don’t know if it was necessary for every installment to follow this path, but tonight’s pairing of episodes three and four was perfectly done. The “To be continued… right now” title card was in and of itself hilarious, probably done on purpose to cloak the second half of the night that encapsulated what was definitely one of the most emotional stories the show has ever done. Harrison and Leslie and Ron function far better together, with the emotional payoff in the latter arguably coming from the former’s heated standoffs. The feud between Leslie and Ron came to a massive standstill before erupting like a massive volcano this week. It was these two at their absolute ugliest, derailing each other with little compassion that we saw last week when they teamed up to help Jamm escape the clutches of Tammy Two. Then they were locked in their office by their friends, allowing for the most emotional material the show has tackled since the departure of Ann and Chris halfway through season six.
The first half was the lesser of the two, hampered by somewhat inconsistent writing and sequences that felt that they were being stretched for the sake of filling a time slot. The jokes also don’t always land, although finding William Henry Harrison, the famous President of the United States who died just a few weeks after his election because he hadn’t worn enough proper clothing in the terrible cold when he gave his inaugural address, was pretty inspired. That his museum had to fill in a bunch of random material just to make sure they had enough stuff to somehow justify charging fourteen dollars a pop was fantastic. The highlight, however, was Leslie finding the president’s last living descendant and trying to use a ruin of his former cabin as grounds (pun intended) to stop Ron’s future building project. Unfortunately for Leslie, the descendant was kind of an idiot so she just begins to ramble off a plethora of platitudes about the former president. Ron interrupts the show, with Tom’s dancers stealing the spotlight. An ugly feud erupts and the lock occurs.
The real gem of knowing these characters for so many years comes after the title card at the interval. Leslie and Ron is one of those seminal episodes of any show that brings tears to your eyes within moments without even really trying. It just allows its characters to speak and come into their own in ways that surprise even several years in. For seven seasons we have seen Leslie be the caring one and sometimes to an annoying extent and beyond. Leslie’s that one person everyone knows who is so unbelievably kind and generous that you inevitably feel like a far inferior human being. It’s difficult to get mad at Leslie since she is so unbelievably sincere, but that sincerity ultimately took a backseat to her job. Leslie is finally at a federal position she’s always wanted, a secure platform from which she could launch future bids for higher office. But it took time to get there and certainly no small amount of patience, dedication, and hard work. Leslie became so engrossed within her work that she lost sight of one of the people who is one of the dearest to her in the whole wide world. It’s totally within character for her to beam when Ron visits her National Park office yet it’s equally disconcerting when he’s left alone in the elevator, shut off.
Ron has never been an emotional man. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have an emotional core, he certainly does. We know that he’s a true friend and despite being on the complete opposite end of the political spectrum, Leslie is one of the people whom he cherishes the most in his life. His stoic, macho demeanor has oddly been what endeared him to the audience, which only made the cracks within him all the more impactful. At the premiere of this season, his switching over to the private sector wasn’t all that surprising. Leslie had left the Parks & Rec department to go over to the National Parks unit and taken most of the old team with her. Everyone else went over to their own private sector jobs and considering Ron’s philosophy, it only seemed to be a matter of time that he left his own office for the capitalist market. But he didn’t want to go. This was the real kicker of the episode, when Ron looked outside of his office and saw a bunch of strangers, none of whom he knew or remotely cared about. Everyone was gone. He had gone to request a job in the government from Leslie because deep down, more than anything else, he wanted those special people to be there with him. And our hearts broke. Perhaps it was the only thing that could save our hearts again, but Ron and Leslie dancing off to Willie Nelson’s “Buddy” in sweatpants and yoga clothes certainly did the trick. The icing of the cake, however? “Why would anyone eat anything but breakfast food?” “People are idiots, Ron.” Sniffles.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (William Henry Harrison):
+Zorp comes back
+Chick-fil-a and Elton John
+Tom translating for Rom
+“One day, Magnus, I will wear you as a jacket.”
+“You’re asking a notary to lie!”
+“Somebody’s Daughters Dancers”
+Ron’s signature is not in cursive
+The Annabel Porter
+“You’re not that good at scrapbooking.”
+The simultaneous “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Leslie and Ron):
+In the Parks and Rec universe, Game of Thrones will end with Khaleesi marrying Jack Sparrow. Leslie’s response of “That show has really gone off the rails” in that case is appropriate. Although everyone would probably die at that wedding, anyway.
+Donna standing up for Ben
+“Damn it, Terry!”
+Ron thinks Whole Foods is called Complete Foods
+The claymore mine being full of explosive fun – as in party favors
+Parks and Rec’s strong belief in the intelligence of its audience: “Left of Leon Trotsky, we’ll murder each other… Hire her.”
+“Those brownies were damn good.”
+Ron is a quarter French
+Last week I mentioned that Morningstar sounded nefarious. It’s a residential complex. Make out of that what you will.
+“You were tough, honest, stood up for what you believed in despite the risk
+Ron’s friendship with April being the strongest reason for him to leave
+“I didn’t recognize anyone.”
+Leslie stood up Ron
+Ron regretting the tearing down of Ann’s house
+Ron turning Ann’s front door into a frame
Title: William Henry Harrison/Leslie and Ron
Written By: Megan Amram/Michael Schur
Directed By: Tom Magill/Beth McCarthy-Miller
Image Courtesy: NBC