Amazing. Perfect. These are just a couple of words that come to mind as I reflect on the Parks and Recreation series finale that I just watched. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but what I got was more than I could have ever wanted or envisioned. You know when you go to see a really good movie and when it’s over you almost wish that they had done one of those final montages that let’s you know what happens to everyone after the movie? (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_FKP-rjhh4) Well, Parks did that and more. They didn’t just end the show in the present, they showed us even further into the future and gave us all ultimate closure. There was even a huge reveal about where possibly Leslie or Ben’s career goes. Let’s just say it’s assumed the Knope-Wyatt’s find their way to a big white house.
The episode opens up with Leslie holding her A Walk Down Memory Lane- A Journey Through Our Past seminar with the gang. And just when she is about to reenact the musical number her and Garry wrote about pod based coffee in 2005, a guy comes in and asks if the department could fix a broken swing in the park.
Donna lets him know that none of them actually work there and he would need to come back when the office opens in a couple of hours. Of course Leslie is having none of it. She sees it as the perfect opportunity for the whole gang to work together once more on a parks matter. It’s actually the perfect set up. Even though everyone has gone on their own paths, one last time they will all work together just like it was at the beginning.
The only issue is that none of them have access to the computers to start the process to get the swing fixed. Luckily, Donna has Leslie’s “Thanks Form The Memories” scrapbook on hand. They can do things the old fashioned way…on paper!
Leslie goes over and gives Donna a speech about how glad she was to have been able to work with her. We then flash forward to DONNA Seattle 2023. When they did this I literally got goose bumps because I knew where they were going with this. I instantly got excited to see where some of the others would be in the future as well. Donna’s a successful realtor, making enough money to go on Donna/Joe Adventure Quest Trips to places like the Amazon. Joe could really use a vacation too. Things are rough at school right now, they literally just cut math. No one is learning math anymore.
This gives Donna an idea. She calls April up for a visit. April is totally pregnant in this scene!!! Donna decided that she is going to use her commission money to fund after school programs for Joe’s school. The project is called Teach Yo Self. It’s great to see how far Donna has come. She has always been a giving person but to see her giving up a trip to the Amazon to help her husband find purpose is really noble.
2017- Craig comes into the office and signs the form that they need to get the swing project moving. Leslie goes up to say goodbye to Craig. She tells him that at first she was intrigued by his tenacity and intensity but then it turned into full on psychotic, but at the end of the day she is happy to leave the department in his hands. When they shake hands we flash forward once more, this time for Craig.
CRAIG 2019 and beyond- Craig is singing at Tom’s Bistro when Tom brings him over a glass of wine that a guy at the bar had bought him. Turns out the guy at the bar that bought him the drink is none other than Typhoon, Ron’s new hair stylist that we met last week. We move forward a little bit more to Typhoon and Craig’s wedding! Ron’s the best man! We flash forward once more to a very technology enhanced airplane. Typhoon and Craig are both old now and happily married! Good for you, Craig!
Back in 2017 Leslie, Andy, and April all head up to the 4th floor to file the form with Ethel. Andy reflects over the fact that what he’s going to miss the most from Pawnee is the food such as Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC and he will miss Leslie too. Leslie reminds him that he will have all of that in DC too. Leslie takes the time to say goodbye to them too. FLASH FORWARD!
Andy and April Halloween 2022- Andy and April are dressed up and playing around as Bert Maclkin and Janet Snakehole on Halloween. Champion is there too and they are living in a really nice house. After giving candy to the trick or treaters, Andy expresses to April that he is ready to have a kid. It’s clear that this is a conversation that they’ve had before.
April says she wouldn’t mind being pregnant and getting stretch marks and throwing up all day, but she isn’t quite sure that she wants the kid that comes after all of that. Bringing a baby into the world is gross. They pause the talk so that they can go over to Ben and Leslie’s for dinner.
Ben is dressed as the lamplighter from his successful board game sequel, Cones of Dunshire: Winds of Tremorrah. Leslie is dressed as a combination of Sandra Dee O’Connor.
When Ben tells Andy that the triplets are with friends in Georgetown he is actually visibly upset. Everyone notices his change in demeanor. Ben pulls him aside to talk to him about it, leaving April and Leslie to have a similar conversation. April says that she’s afraid having kids would ruin their perfect life and that they wouldn’t be cool and healthy like her and Andy. Leslie says she’s not sure if her and Andy should have kids, but she does know that they make a great team and it’s up to them if they want to add more team members.
April and Andy Halloween 2023- April’s having a Halloween baby! I guess that advice really hit home. She has on awesome zombie make up and demands that Andy put on her birthing song, “monster mash.” After the baby is born we are able to watch April and Andy come up with baby names. Some of the options are Bert Macklin Jr., Demon Spawn Baby Satan Dwyer,and the winner Bert Snakehole Ludgate Karate Dracula Macklin Demon Jack O’Lantern Dwyer…Jack for short. So, we’ve got baby Jack Dwyer who was unexpectedly born in Pawnee on Halloween Day 2023.
Back in Pawnee 2017, Leslie and Tom head down to maintenance just like old times. They run into Jean Ralphio on the way who is getting around in a wheelchair. Only catch is he’s not even injured, he’s just using it to get to the front of the lines at Six Flags. Leslie says that she hopes he lives a nice long life.
Jean Ralphio 2022, We are at Jean Ralphio’s funeral. I assumed that he was most likely faking it since before we flashed forward he was asking Leslie to participate in an insurance scam with him. The rabbi residing over the funeral says that Jean Ralphio requested that they play his favorite song, which is “Bend Ova” by Lil’ John and Tyga. Meanwhile, 50 feet away Jean Ralphio and Mona Lisa are celebrating his successful death faking and are off to open a new casino with the insurance money. Unfortunately, the funeral attendees notice them and chase after the two. His scam literally lasted 1 minute long. It’s nice to see that some things stayed the same after all that time.
We briefly head back to 2017 only for Tom and Leslie to see that maintenance is closed on Friday’s. Leslie takes this time to say goodbye to Tom and share how proud she is of him and all that he’s accomplished.
Tom’s flash forward starts out in 2019. He is talking with Ben, Ron, and Donna about the potential to expand Tom’s Bistro. He’s been doing so well with his current restaurant that they all three feel that it’s the best time for him to go ahead and take the risk and find more success!
I’m not entirely sure what the time jump is but we cut to Tom watching a homemade documentary about all of his failures after that day. The Tom’s Bistro expansion was a total failure and he lost everything. He made the documentary to remind himself of how his risks never work out. His wife Lucy reminds him that it’s not all entirely his fault, he couldn’t control the fact that the country ran out of beef. She also tells him that he’s the king of new ideas and that it’s time to start brainstorming a new one.
Flash forward a little more and Tom is now on a tour as the best selling author of Failure: An American Success Story. It’s all about how he was able to find success through his failures and gives others advice on how to do the same. He tells the audience, which includes most of the Parks gang, that in his book he details 7 types of successful people.
You’re either a:
- Andy: Loving, Exuberant, Open Hearted
- April: Individualistic, Intense, Intimidating
- Ben: Level headed, tactical, calm under pressure
- Leslie: Leader, Tireless, Optimistic
- Ron: Self-Reliant, Uncompromising, Inner Directed
- Donna: Mysterious, adventurous, Confident
- Tom: Brilliant, Trendsetting, Icon
There is however one person that you DO NOT want to be, and that’s a Garry. Garry is in the audience and he is thrilled!
In present day 2017, Leslie and Tom realize they need some help getting maintenance open. Who better than Mayor Gergich? He tells Leslie how happy he has been being Mayor and is sad that his interim term is ending. It’s now time for Garry’s flash forward and what was possibly the most AMAZING reveal in the entire episode.
Garry officially becomes major after winning in a landslide of written in ballots. He is sworn in by Brandi Maxx. Garry has clearly found his calling. We flash forward and he is being sworn in again and again. Garry lives the rest of his life being the Mayor of Pawnee and loving life.
We flash forward all the way to Garry’s 100th birthday! His wife Gale has literally not aged a day. Garry talks about how he has had the perfect life, marriage, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Then he dies.
We cut to his funeral where he is given the 21 stamp salute from the notaries. Ben and Leslie are at the funeral looking quite old themselves. They are talking about how they spelled Garry’s name wrong on his headstone. There are a bunch of security guards behind them, which I assumed was to honor the fallen Mayor.
BUT THEN!! One of the security guards leans forward and tells Ben and Leslie that it’s time to go. I instantly got chills here. Guys, I think that Leslie or Ben is President of the United States. Those weren’t security guards. They were secret service. It was literally the most important moment in the entire episode. Now granted they did lean forward and tell Ben that they had to leave first but the ambiguity of the scene leaves things open and I am filling it in with my own guess that Leslie is President! What did you all think about this scene?
Back in 2017, Leslie is pitching potential newspaper headlines at the Park while Ron is fixing the swing. The others are all hanging around as well. When she asks Ron what is plan is for the future he says that he will probably stick around Pawnee. She reaches for his hand and we are flashing forward!
Ron Swanson in 2022 is still the successful owner of Very Good Building Company, which has found success despite the financial crisis. Upon hearing this news Ron immediately resigns as chairperson and leaves the company. He goes to DC to find Leslie after making sure that all of his earnings were properly accounted for. He also invtested in the Lagaulin Distillery.
Ron tells Leslie that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life now, but he knows that he wants to feel useful. I thought that she was going to take him to see April as a career guide, but instead Leslie just vows to do whatever it takes to help him.
Well, she found him the perfect job. She has him meet her at the beautiful Pawnee National Park that we watched her fight for. Here he marvels at the beauty of it and she simply asks him if he wants to run it. It’s the perfect job for him and even though he struggles with the idea of working for the government he accepts. How could he not? All he has to do is walk around the park, talking to no one and keeping it clean.
We see Ron get in his canoe and paddle of with a huge smile on his face. Leslie has done it again.
We flashed back to Ron and Leslie on the swing set in 2017. Leslie’s unsure if she is ready to leave Pawnee that day. Ben tells her that it’s not really an option, but she still isn’t convinced. She looks around and loves that all of these people are in the same place at the same time. Ben tells her that all of these people will be together again, and yes, a lot of things will happen in the meantime, but they will all be great. They share a hug and here we go!
Leslie and Ben in Washington D.C. 2022. are at a dinner party with Joe Biden and some other couples. A rumor gets around to Leslie that the governor of Indiana isn’t running again and the people want Leslie to run. This is amazing news for Leslie as being Governor of Indiana is the dream job she wrote in her kindergarten dream journal.
Unbeknownst to Leslie, Jen Barkley is telling Ben the same exact thing and encouraging him to run. When they are in the car on the way home they both realize that they want to run for Governor and have to figure out a way to decide who gets to run. The duo are going to Pawnee in a week and hope that they can get some guidance from their friends there. We also got a quick glimpse at the triplets who run through the kitchen like a hurricane and wipe all of the food of the table.
One week later Ben reminds Leslie of what he said in 2017 that one day all of her favorite people would be in the same place at the same time. He has planned Leslie a welcome back party with all of the Parks gang. Leslie says that she’s not sure she could be any happier. Ben says, “wanna bet?”
Ann and Chris come out from around the corner! Awesome call and I am so glad that they agreed to come back. It’s always strange to me when the actors that leave a show don’t come back in the series finale.
We find out that Tom is writing a follow up novel, Failure 2.0: Failing to Fail. Donna’s Teach Yo Self has turned into a successful non profit. April is pregnant again. Anne has two kids named Oliver and Leslie and her and Chris are moving back to Pawnee. Which would be perfect because Ben realizes how important the Governor thing to Leslie is and announces to everyone that she is running. Ben will run her campaign too.
We get an adorable montage of Parks and Recreation through the years and it was perfect. I love watching the early days and seeing how far the show and the characters have all come. And if you look back on the pilot episode, Parks has come a phenomenally long way.
Indiana University 2035, Leslie is giving a speech while also receiving an honorary doctorate. She has served 2 terms as Governor and is looking forward to the challenges that await. She encourages everyone to find his or her team and get started. They also name the library after her and she is a little disgusted but still pleased.
The final minute of the show is upon us. We are back in 2017 as the group is leaving the park. Garry promised Gayle that he would take a picture. And in the final moments Ben asks Leslie if she is ready. She looks straight at the camera.
Well everybody, with that line the show is over. As I said before, I thought this finale was perfect and ranks pretty high in my book for series finales. Not only did we get to see closure in the present day but also closure for everyone in the future. It’s sad to say goodbye to Pawnee but luckily these days you don’t have to say goodbye forver…thanks Netflix!
It’s been fun recapping Parks and Rec and I will definitely miss it!
What did you all think of the finale?