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Parks and Recreation “Ann and Chris” Review (6×13)

30 Jan

b22c3ade977a4413c43ca2c5b5d5aaf1“Oh, Ann, you beautiful sunflower.”

Leslie Knope and Ann Perkins are friends. They’re two people who understand each other, make each other better people, and are inseparable. Yet, that’s exactly what happens tonight; Ann and Chris are leaving Pawnee, and it’s all tears and laughs and goodbyes in a heartwarming episode of Parks and Recreation.

I know the show gets a lot of criticism for an over-repetition of various character beats, but this is the kind of “staying true to the characters” situation that the show handles very well. Leslie is a person who wants to satisfy everyone, who’s spurred on by the thought of gaining new friendships and doing good for the community. She’s going to want to create the most elaborate goodbye party for Ann, and it’s always entertaining watching her desperately trying to please her best friend, that beautiful tropical fish.

Although it’s time for tropical fish and Chris to love, the show is still able to craft an emotionally satisfying 30 minutes that’s not just about Ann and Chris, but also about people like April; I love how the episode conveys that she’s grown to love Ann over the years, and even if she’s still fundamentally April, she’s changed a bit. Both Jones and Plaza do some fantastic work in that scene at Lot 48, which is followed by a sweet moment shared by Leslie and Ann in which they say farewell and reminisce.

It’s nice to see that throughout, the writers choose the gifts carefully, making sure to stay true to each and every character. I especially like Ben and co.’s box of memories–“Keep your tears in your eyes where they belong”–and the interactions between Chris and the rest of the guys. The show has a great handle on friendship and all its nuances, and I love seeing that portrayed on screen.

I also love how the episode takes us on a trip down memory lane with its various flashbacks to the pilot, emphasizing the bond shared between Leslie and her best friend. The show didn’t really have much more to say about Ann and Chris, but there’s no doubt they were integral parts of the series–the former a bit more so than the latter–earlier on and that they’ve had a profound effect on the other characters.

Of course, not everything is sad and emotional! It’s great that the episode still brings the humor to Leslie and Ann’s relationship, and seeing Ann headlock Kathryn Pinewood is a satisfying and hilarious moment. I’d also like to point out the moment when Ann and Jerry break down after Ron’s “I enjoyed some of the time I spent with you.” It’s funny, but it’s also rooted in a deeper emotional truth: Ron does care, and Ann does care that Ron cares.

So, at the end, when Ann and Chris head off into the sunset to the tune of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers”, we’re struck by just how big of an influence these two have had. Sure, the show will probably benefit by having them gone, but they’ve caused a fair amount of ripples in the lives of our characters. We move on, but we won’t ever forget those that have laughed with us, cried with us, and been there for us.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Pistol Pete and Orin come back.

-That final shot is gorgeous, and it’s not something you see on Parks very often. In fact, it seems almost like a series finale shot, and it’s reminiscent of “Harvest Festival”.

-“Holy mother of Malia…and Sasha. I love them both equally.”

-“Hands in, everybody! 1-2-3….”
-“Blammo!”
-“Let’s go!”
-“Dark forces arise!”

-The revelation that Perd and Ann dated is perfect. “The story of that appeal is that it was heartfelt, and, in response to that appeal, I respond, ‘Okay.’”

-I thought Mark Brendanowicz would show up. I’m not sure how I’d feel about that.

-“Ain’t no party like a Leslie Knope party because a Leslie Knope party is 30 parties.”

-Leslie can’t watch anything with Julie Andrews in it before bed time because it makes her too hyper.

-Well, we’re off for The Olympics. See you after the break!

Photo credit: NBC, Parks and Recreation

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