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Parks and Recreation – Are you Better Off? Review: An Uncertain End to Another Great Season

Are you better off than you were a year ago? It’s a great question to ask of NBC’s most consistently funny comedy during its finale, and I think everyone would agree that this season has been another success. By treating the Town Hall as a mini-retrospective, not only for Leslie’s first year on the city council, but to honor the unique world of Pawnee and its citizens, which the writers have built up over the past five seasons, I feel safe knowing our Thursday nights will remain hilarious even without The Office and 30 Rock in the line-up. (Parks still hasn’t been renewed for a sixth season, but NBC would be stupid to let this gem of a show go, right?)

The aforementioned question lies at the center of this episode, but this week, NBC definitely pushed the “Who’s pregnant?” promo so I have to start there. All season long, we’ve seen Ann deal with her desire to have a baby, from trips to the sperm bank to finally deciding to ask Chris to father her child. As of late, we’ve also seen Ben and Leslie question whether it’s time to start their own family. So I thought I had a pretty good idea of who had a bun in the oven. And terribly overused clichés aside, I love how the writers came up with the perfect twist at episode’s end. And here I was thinking how woefully underused Ron was in the finale! Plus, aside from loving a good cliffhanger, I’m happy at the prospect of more Xena, I mean Lucy Lawless, as Diane. She’s a wonderful match for Ron, and now with a baby on the way?! I’m giddy at the thought of how Ron will deal with this new development. One thing we can reasonably guess: Ron will buy all the baby supplies from Food and Stuff.

But before we can get to that conclusion, it’s Burt Macklin, FBI, on the case. He’s built a Homeland-style web of suspects on the wall, and it makes me hope that they revisit the Andy as a Pawnee police officer storyline, especially now that April has gotten into veterinary school in Bloomington. Side note: kudos to that brief nod that this storyline seemingly came out of nowhere when Andy says that he’s only known about her dream to work with animals for the past 20 seconds. That’s exactly what I thought! Nevertheless, with April sure to have her own adventures at school, I’d like to see Andy try to make this Burt Macklin thing a reality because he’s not half bad at solving cases, save for asking Donna if he’s talking to one person or one and 1/9. Aren’t we glad it’s not April who’s pregnant?

It’s a foregone notion that one of the suspected pregnant ladies, Mona-Lisa, should never procreate. It’s for the sake of humanity! I mean, this is a girl who probably pokes holes into her gents’ condoms and has a signature brand of pregnancy test, “Womb There It Is.” But yes, I still think she’s a fantastically kooky character and want her back often, especially if it means she and Jean-Ralphio will continue to harmonize on random phrases. I also love that Tom does the responsible thing when he thinks she may be pregnant, even offering to sell Rent-a-Swag when Diddy Jay-Z some unknown potential investor makes an offer for controlling interest in the store. He may act like a man-child (while wearing child-sized clothing), but that was a nice show of responsibility. 

As for Leslie, she now has a potential recall to deal with thanks to people coming forward with their issues during the Founder’s Week public forum. From Leslie’s perspective, it must have hurt to hear criticism about the things she worked so hard to implement over the past year, especially since she tends to takes things very personally. But as a fan, I loved seeing memorable minor characters from this season -- Dewey from the sanitation department, conservative activists Marshall and Marcia Langman, the two fired stoners from Animal Control, and porn star extraordinaire Brandi Maxxxx, to name just a few. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Parks knows how to utilize their guest stars. Each time I see someone familiar, even it’s just for a throwaway line, it’s like seeing an old friend who I never want to leave.

Unfortunately, it’s the end of the road for season 5, and we have to bid adieu to all our friends in Pawnee. Although it’s a bit of a change from the hope and excitement of winning the election in last year’s finale, Leslie takes the “Recall Knope!” chants like a champ and chooses to take the dissenters head-on. And let’s be real – did we expect anything less from Leslie? Bring it on.

Notes and Quotes

-- April on why Pawnee is the best city in the world: “Easy: most murders per capita. The guillotine was invented here. City Hall is run by the walrus mafia.”

-- Mona-Lisa: “I frenched my cousin one time. I might still be in love with him.”

-- Mona-Lisa: “Let’s go have sex in a tree. He’ll be back in eight minutes.” No one ever said Tom was an endurance man.

-- Donna: “I’m talking pedicures on pedicures on pedicures.” Can we please get another Treat Yourself episode next season?

-- Pawnee is now the 9th most obese city in America, down from 4th, after they lost an amount of weight equal to 800 pregnant manatees. Thanks to Google, I learned that it's possible for a pregnant manatee to weigh more than 1,000 pounds so I’ll let you do the math.

-- Ben, after seeing the Leslie Knope float: “Maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s Kate Upton.” That’s a good husband.

-- If Chris is the Nipple King, who's his queen?

-- One of these is not like the other: The Incredible Burt Wonderbone, A Good Guy to Lay Hard, Argo, and Our Goo.

-- Speaking of movies, I couldn’t stop laughing at Leslie’s list of dance movies during her press conference. And seriously, the Step Up franchise is cinematic genius.

-- Trevor Nelsson: “You are about to get a free lesson, only this lesson is going to cost you.”



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