Waiting for Waffles
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
After the emotional high note that was Leslie and Ron, Parks & Rec smartly took a slight foot off the fas pedal, opting instead for a more knowing comic look that continues a solid final season that brings back many of our old favorites (come on, who didn’t want to see Dennis Feinstein one more time?) for another beat. There’s flaws, specifically relating to certain characters and some of the dialogue, but even a standard installment of the show is eons above so much of its competition. The central thematic story of the two-parter tonight was Leslie’s continued efforts to save the Sweetums-owned land from Gryzzl and turn it into a National Park. Simultaneously Dennis Feinstein makes a return appearance as the new evil landlord of JJ’s Diner. Without a moment to spare, he refuses to negotiate JJ’s lease and plans for the diner to be shut down. If Leslie cares about one thing above her loved ones and career, it is the waffles and whipped cream from JJ’s and she’s not going down without a fight. For the longest time it seemed that Leslie would be able to do both, but then Jessica sells the land for a whopping $125 million. At first Leslie loses all hope, but in great Parks and Rec fashion, there’s that glimmer of hope scooped up at the end that isn’t the solution everyone was after, but hey, everyone got something.
The land deal was a nice move in the end, not in the simplest of fashions nor being dragged our beyond a reasonable length for a narrative structure. Pawnee has progressed a significant amount in the three years the show has jumped but as usual, progress always has been a double-edged sword. The parts of Pawnee that were neglected in the path for progress deteriorated just as fast as the rest of the town grew. Covered in graffiti and left in complete disrepair, it was as if no one cared about the part of town that in this hour became Leslie’s savior. Dennis Feinstein wouldn’t budge to save JJ’s Diner as expected and after the Sweetums sale, there was little hope left. Then Leslie had an idea. “It’s cleaning up one part of Pawnee and preserving the other,” she implores. It’s that sort of persistence and ingenuity that has endeared us to Leslie for so long and it certainly is part of why Leslie is able to sell the dilapidated parts of Pawnee to Gryzzl. What’s the biggest success story for a company in the midst of a public relations disaster relating to privacy impeachment that even makes the public at the Pawnee town hall meetings make sense – a company in the middle of a beautiful park or a company that takes a dilapidated part of town and rebuilds it into something new and donates their expensive land for a national park? She even manages to save JJ’s Diner, a great package of success that lands in front of her in the form of Ron Swanson and whiskey. Is there a better combination to receive good news? I don’t think so.
April comes to an understanding of her own in this double-header. For all that April says that she despises, the simple reality of how fortunate she really has been hits her quite hard in the form of Craig. There are new interns that arrive for Craig, forming an immediate mirror to April’s beginning on this show. Her dissatisfaction with her own life begins to seep ion this development. Scaring off the interns gives her some satisfaction, but it’s quickly shattered when Craig arrives onto the scene. In his typical demeanor, he tells her off for being so supremely selfish and rightfully so. “That internship was the best thing to have ever happened to you,” he essentially snarls and as he walks away, that realization begins to dawn on April. Craig has a point – no matter how dissatisfied April feels professionally at that moment, there is little denying that the best parts of her life came as a result of that internship and she has no right denying anyone else that same experience. It feels like that final hurdle that has to be crossed for April to truly grow up and it’s pertinent that it appears during the show’s final run.
2017’s finest offering so far (outside of Leslie and Ron jamming out to Willie Nelson) is the return of Treat Yo Self: The Beverly Hills edition. As April does in this hour, Tom also accrues a decent amount of maturity, struggling in coping with his feelings towards Lucy. He tries to ignore those feelings by acting as Andy’s agent and getting him a five-fold raise at his television show. Despite his success as Andy’s agent, the feelings remain and are brought into focus by the great romance mogul Donna Meagle. As her bachelorette swan song, Donna is taken to Beverly Hills in a swank limousine by Tom. Amidst a dinner of celebrity fish and Josh Groban, she breaks down her friend’s attraction only in a way that a true friend is able to do. Perhaps the thing with Lucy won’t work out or perhaps it will. But until Tom doesn’t even bother trying to give their relationship a chance, there won’t be anything at all. It’s the best gift in the form of awesome advice from your absolute best friend. That, and the shoes worn by Will Smith’s son in Hitch 2: Son of a Hitch.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Gryzzlbox):
+I continue to love the futuristic hologram iPad-things
+Drones delivering gifts
+Tom trying to do crunches
+“Yeah, they were adorable.”
+The return of Dr. Richard Nygard and April’s reaction
+“You’re all going to die in here!”
+“We’re not against you on this.”
+Leslie’s love story with Ben the intern that sent shockwaves everywhere
+“Yeah, we’re developing with Starbucks.”
+The tablet skateboard
+The Perdple’s Court
+“Public humiliation by live television.”
+The footnotes noting that Perd Hapley, is not, in fact, an actual judge
+Ben incurring a loss because of the opening day of Star Wars: Episode VII
+“Is Star Wars the one with the little wizard boy?”
+“Les. Les Vegetables.”
+The Invisible Gavel
+Tom using the old super crying trick to get Andy the rights to Johnny Karate
+“You just have to believe that it’s going to work out.”
+The shot of Ron with dark, booming thunder is one of the greatest shots in television period, history
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Save JJ’s):
+Wedding cake testing
+Butler in honor
+Kale in my milkshake
+Was it Voldemort Putin?
+“Oh hell yeah, it’s blimp time.”
+Leslie and Ron’s high fives
+“Jonathan Karate is the serious older brother of Johnny Karate.”
+The return of raccoons
+“Oh my God, where did you come from?”
+“I’m happy with my reign and the decisions I made, including those I fired.”
+“Is this paper?”
+Leslie, Ron, and whiskey
+Leslie and Ron’s hug: “I do not approve of this.”; “Don’t care.”
Great (for both)
Title: Gryzzlbox/Save JJ’s
Written By: Donick Cary/Joe Mande
Directed By: Amy Poehler/Ken Whittingham
Image Courtesy: Cinema Bite @ Twitter