Leslie told us last episode that everything she and Ben had gone through had been leading to this moment: their pregnancy. The truth, though, is that everything had been leading to this moment: the end of Parks and Recreation’s sixth season, and its subsequent time-jump.
Season Six has been an experiment in pushing Leslie’s boundaries, and if “Moving Up” feels like an ending, that’s because it is. It’s an episode that so easily could have been a series finale, and I’m so glad that it did go that way, closing doors and opening others, because something needed to shift, in order for greater stories to rise in the upcoming season seven.
And “Moving Up” is a great ending- to Leslie’s life as a local government worker. The episode shifts her upwards and onwards onto better things, while still letting her base her life in Pawnee.
This episode was insanely busy: Leslie meets Mrs. Obama in San Francisco, Ben and Andy scout free wifi for the city (getting it thanks to Ben’s board game “The Cones of Dunshire”), Tom finishes setting up his Bistro back in Pawnee, and the day of the Unity Concert finally arrives – with star after star coming out to perform (including, naturally, a CGI Lil Sebastian).
When Leslie’s in San Francisco, speaking about Pawnee’s merger (“Merger she wrote”), she’s finally convinced to take the Regional Director’s job… Before coming home to Pawnee and being reminded of what she’ll be leaving behind.
“The only thing that I’m 100% positive on is that I want to stay and go.”
Considering her a modern founder of Pawnee, the Parks department build a new statue for the founders, Leslie’s name included, along with a quote that’s she’s uttered many a time: “Only a moron would ever live anywhere other than Pawnee, Indiana.” And there comes that doubt again, Leslie unable to leave yet desperately wanting to, because this job, being a regional director of the National Parks Service… That’s what everything has been leading to. The report she left in Washington, the thankless work she consistently did in Pawnee, all of those successes as a councilor that were seen as failures by the public… We’ve watched Leslie struggle to make her town a better place for six years, and finally, she’s thanked for it.
Not by the town, never the town, because Leslie’s a politician and as Mike Schur has made sure to point out, Pawnee isn’t full of rational citizens and never will be. But she has been and is recognized by the National Parks Service now, and she has to take that opportunity.
…But she won’t take it if it’s in Chicago, realizing, when Ron tells her at the end of the episode that she can’t have it all, that of course she can.
Leslie’s life hasn’t been leading to triplets, and she was never waiting for Ben to turn up in Pawnee. Her past didn’t set her up for a long-standing job as a Pawnee City Councillor, and it’s not leading to an eternal career with the National Parks Service, either. Leslie Knope’s life goes where she directs it, and in “Moving Up,” she makes sure to push it- and her new office- onto the third floor of Pawnee’s city council building.
Within minutes of packing up her office, we see Leslie’s new one, three years later, when it’s busy and humming (and occupied by Jon Hamm and Larry, whom Leslie calls ‘Terry’), a lingering long-take catching the minute or so that we see of 2017 smoothly, with April and Andy coming in with the Knope-Wyatt triplets (two boys in plaid-of course- and a mini-Leslie), while Ben is decked up in a tux, whisking Leslie away for a meeting downstairs, while she protests, calling it his big night.
It’s busy, exciting, and a little bit scary, too, the shift jarring, as flash-forwards can be.
But mostly, Parks’ shift is intriguing.
Parks and Recreation’s six season run ended tonight, and it did it so sweetly, the cameras zooming out over Andy and the reunited Mouse Rat to see Pawnee’s population watching. But it’s in those last few minutes that it created something new, with fresh stories and energy, and a new future for Park’s to explore in its seventh season.
“…You ready?” “Not at all. But that’s never stopped us before.”
Bring on 2017.
- Craig, as always, brings greatness: “From now on everyone call me Kristen! Because I am wiigging out right now!”
- Leslie meets Michelle Obama, and it’s pretty on point: “Well you know how I feel about Chicago.” “YOU’RE FROM CHICAGO SO YOU LIKE IT!”
- …Some of Tom’s dreams are coming true: “Despite what my pocket square says, I’m not a billionaire
- Craig meets Mona-Lisa and Jean-Ralphio and it’s as amazing as you thought it would be: “I like your energy, hombre: what do you say we go go-karting later?” “I WANNA GO HORSEBACK RIDING!”
- Ginuwine sings Pony. I mean, Lil Sebastian’s a minuture horse, but it’s still amazing. Amazing: “Damn, Donna! Why you gotta bring the quackson five into this!”
- EVEN TAMMY II WAS THERE: “I will defeat you. I will defeat you right into my pants.”
- Ben mouthing the words to Letters To Cleo’s performance in that t-shirt of his was priceless. Also priceless: Barney the accountant making a re-appearance, gifting Ben with the copyright to The Cones of Dunshire. In my mind he’s in that tux because the game has been picked up as a live-action HBO series, or something else ridiculous. But we’ll see.
- Joan Callamezzo turns up at Tom’s, thanks to Jean-Ralphio:“I’ll have the Joan! It’s a tumbler of gin, and it’s got crushed asprin around the rim!” Perd Hapley just wants an empty glass.
- And to finish? “Sometimes you have to make the hardest climb to see the most beautiful sunrise.” Perfection.