Things have changed in Pawnee, Indiana — but only so much in artifice. Tom’s still the tastemaker; Donna’s still a boss; Ron will always hate the government, and Ben is riding high and nerdy; April and Andy are still April and Andy, and Leslie’s running the show. The team’s all functioning independently, just on a larger level. And thank goodness for those local politics, they’re all still working together. The final season of NBC’s Parks and Recreation is bigger, with higher stakes, but it’s still the same series at its heart. If this is what 2017 looks like, I think we’re going to be alright.
Oh yeah and by the way — this is a recap, which means spoilers. So stop reading now if you’re adverse to knowing things.
That isn’t to say everything is right and rosy in this brave new world. Oh no. Sure, the gadgets are cooler — though if you’re not careful the interface may try to harvest your skin — but the tensions are running hot. Ron and Leslie hate each other. Like defcon Voldemort levels of hatred are at play (on both sides! Even though Ron Swanson would swear he has absolutely no knowledge of this Voldemort character of which we speak). The duo’s epic falling out is far and away the biggest change to Pawnee (outside of its now-booming social networking economy? Is Indiana the new tech hotbed? The Silicorn Field? I’m trademarking that don’t steal it), and all we know for certain is its relation the vague term “Morningstar.”
What does it all mean? Who was involved? And what the heck happened? Did it have to do with Ron leaving the Parks department (something he did two years ago to start the Very Good Building & Development Co.)? Did Dumb Jon Hamm do it? And why has it caused an end to the odd couple-y friendship between he and our dear Lady Knope? Doesn’t he know her blind ambition and do-goodness is at its best when tempered by his curmudgeonly pragmatism? Or was he blinded by Ben Wyatt’s burning papier-mâché effigy at the Man of the Year Award ceremony just-barely thrown in Mr. Leslie Knope’s honor?
Whatever the case, the two are squaring off in a battle for a parcel of land — Leslie on the side of turning into a national park, and Ron as the developer hired by tech company Grizzl to turn it into their new “campus” (technobabble for “big office”). April, still being an employee of Leslie’s remains staunchly on the Team Knope side (along with her husband and star of The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show). So does Ben, still plugging away in city government. Over on Team Swanson are the businessfolk: Donna and Tom, who both have financial gains at play with Ron’s Grizzl deal. Now all that’s left is to pitch the greatest park (business or national) Jessica Wicks-Newport has ever seen — and convince her that either a $90 million or $0 million deal is worth making. That’s where the end of the first episode left us.
The second half of the evening, though — “Ron and Jammy” — saw these now-enemies join forces against a greater evil: Tammy. Ron’s evilest ex (and in the alternate reality we call real life, Nick Offerman’s real-time wife) had sunk her sex-crazed claws into Councilman Jamm, and both opponents needed him as an ally. Jamm was the swing vote in a proposition to make the aforementioned Newport land zoned for commercial use. Leslie was obviously against this while Ron was for it. But to get the vote, they had to exorcise a now Ron Swanson-ized Jamm, and it was not pretty.
As for the rest of the gang, their crises were of the more mental variety. April realized — thanks to the narcissistic soybean husk that is Joan Callamezzo, “professional” delusional TV trainwreck — that she wants to be fulfilled with what she does in life, sending her and Ben on a tour of potential trades, including mortician. This proved ill-fated (badumching), but indicates much of April’s time will be spent figuring out what in the heck she wants to do with her life.
Andy and Tom, on the other hand, are on a quest to make a slew of rash life decisions in the name of finding the latter a bit o’ love. This included getting very drunk, reading a message from Lucy (Tom’s old crush), taking a cab to Chicago, and showing up at her place of work. Eight hundred and thirty some-odd dollars and a job offer to Lucy later, things seem to be heading in the smoochy-smooch direction for these two crazy kids at long last (if for nothing more than Natalie Morales’ character being a return to the series) even if she has a boyfriend at the moment. Details! Pish posh.
Back on planet Tammy, Ron and Leslie are forced to deprogram Jamm as best they can (hey, that was fun to write). Tammy’s manipulation tactics and brazen nudity were a tough match for Ron’s backpack full of methodology and hand-made deflection protocols, but magically, they worked. Although all it left the two with was Jamm’s abstention from voting so as to not mess up the best friendship he believes the three to share. (This man’s life is so sad. I feel like he’s going to need to “eat, pray, get beat the hell up” his way out of this one.)
Jerry Larry Gary Barry Terry? He’s puttering around in there. Probably getting beat up by child ninjas.
– Farewell Ed (Dumb Jon Hamm), we hardly knew ye. “If anyone wants to hang, I will be at Subway!”
– Kevin James apparently killed it in his star turn during the Bourne movies.
– Shia LaBeouf designs wedding dresses now. [Insert your favorite stealing joke here.]
– My kingdom for more Werner Herzog appearances this season. Please?
– Everything about Grizzl is ridiculous in the best way. Continue to have the tablets say weird things forever.
What’d you think of Parks return? Let us hear about it in the comments.