Parks and Recreation – The Wall Review: A So-So Episode About Leslie’s Future
I have seen the future. Or at least, I foresee a potential ending for Parks and Rec
. Of course, it remains a mystery how many more literal and metaphorical punches Leslie can take to the face before she leaves Pawnee for a seemingly perfect job, but that’s just how dedicated she is to her beloved city.
Don’t get me wrong. While I’m certainly not ready for the show to end, we’ve seen Leslie give her all in service of Pawnee for years, sacrificing way too much of herself and her sanity only to have people fight her, call her names and recall her from office. I wanted to reach into my television and shake some sense into Leslie when she turned down—albeit in an adorably misleading way—the opportunity to run a branch of the National Park Service from a new office in Chicago. This was her chance to work in a place where people appreciate her efforts! I mean, how perfect was that moment when Grant Larsen (and not Elton John, as Andy first assumed) praised her legendary report about the Pawnee River cleanup as the “most thoroughly researched and passionate grant request he’s ever seen”? But aye, there’s the rub. This job in Chicago could be amazing, and she should take it without a second thought, but a Pawnee without Leslie Knope seems unthinkable…at least, right now.
It’s sweet that Ron functions as her spiritual advisor of sorts, but is his observation that “it’s an uphill battle, but you love the struggle” enough of a reason to not even explore her options? Or, I don’t know, discuss it with her husband? I’m hoping those scenes just didn’t make the final cut, but it would have been nice to see a little bit of Leslie and Ben time, especially given that it’s such an important decision to undertake. Anyhow, it’s highly convenient that the gears of the federal government grind slowly, giving her some time to make a final verdict about the job, but Grant isn’t going to wait forever. And more importantly, neither is the audience. I think we all want Leslie to get her happy ending—where she can work with purpose, be respected, and celebrate accomplishments with glitzy banners galore—but can she find her ultimate happiness as an unappreciated civil servant in Pawnee, or does her future lie in Chicago?
When Michael Scott (Steve Carell) left Dunder Mifflin at the end of the seventh season, The Office
never quite felt the same, but things were able to go on for a few more years with Dwight, Jim and Pam holding down the fort in Scranton. I fear that a Parks Department minus Leslie (and by the same token, Parks
without Amy Poehler) would not thrive. She is the heartbeat of the show, after all—as evidenced by that shiny Golden Globe statue she picked up earlier this year. So where do they go from here? Well, this job offer in Chicago seems like the perfect way out when the show has run its course. Over the end of this season and into the seventh, we’ll hopefully see a successful Unity Concert validate the merger between Pawnee and Eagleton, Pawnee Commons up and running, and a worthy successor to take over Leslie’s mantle. Ahem, April, anyone? She has been a great, if reluctant, apprentice to Leslie, and I’m happy they’ve been able to find a happy medium that allows her weirdness and deadpan humor to shine through as she utters a line like “sorry this town keeps being stupid and letting you down.” That’s the kind of stuff you want to hear from your heir apparent. Ultimately, whenever Leslie feels ready to leave Pawnee—when she finishes what she started and knows the town is going to be okay without her—I guess we’ll have to be ready, too.
Meanwhile, the side plot with Ben and Tom just didn’t work for me. Tom gets the opportunity of a lifetime to pitch one of his brilliant ideas to Mitch Savner—of Savner Bleaches and Chemicals, makers of the unisex Pearlies for Girlies teeth whitening strips—and all he can come up with is Tom’s Bistro, an Olive Garden knock-off? I expected more from a guy with Tom’s sparkle and passion. I mean, this is the guy who engineered the brilliant train wreck also known as Entertainment 720, although he does get kudos for turning Rent-a-Swag into a successful business. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the running joke of Tom’s distaste for Dork-asaurus
Ben. Has that always been a thing? If not, it should be because Aziz Ansari nailed every one of those “I’m sooooo bored” eye rolls.
Notes and Quotes
- I loved the cold open, which served to reaffirm both Leslie’s penchant for timely gift giving—Diane must be beside herself wondering where her gift from Leslie is—and Ron’s continued distrust of revealing more information than absolutely necessary. But anyway, welcome to the world, John [Redacted] Swanson! As Craig would say, “You are so freaking precious!”
- I desperately want to see Orin dislocate his shoulder to the music of Billy Joel. I don’t even care that the Pawnee Journal
called it “Why would anyone do this?”
- For the first time ever, I didn’t totally hate Jamm! I think it helped that he was the only Pawneean who got stung because he was laughing at the Eagletonians, but I appreciated him fighting Mike Patterson at the hospital. That guy was an even bigger jerk than Jamm!
- Andy, after hitting the wall with a thud: “The Kool-Aid guy makes it look so easy.” Oh, yeah!
- Leslie: “I am trying to fix my bee hole disaster.” Because butt hole. Puns!
- Who else but Ron would suggest doing the entire redo of the third floor by himself? And yes, in case you were wondering, his work will be flawless.
- Tom: “This is like listening to a Ted talk by the color beige.”
- Two words: bacon pillows.