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Parks and Recreation “One Last Ride” Review (7×12/7×13)

24 Feb

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“Yes, I’m ready.”

After 7 years and 125 episodes, Parks and Recreation has finally come to a close. It’s been an up-and-down ride in recent years, but this final season brought the show back to its roots–back to what made it truly great–even as it was showing us where its characters were going in the future. In “One Last Ride”, we get one last look at these wonderful people that we’ve come to know and love, and we get to experience a moving and satisfying series finale to one of the funniest shows on television.

Of course, the show isn’t merely just laughs. It can be truly hilarious at times–see: Jean-Ralphio’s funeral song–but what makes it special is its unwavering commitment to teamwork, to helping others, to loving others. It’s not the kind of television we get very often these days, and it’s the kind of television that we sometimes need to see. Yes, real life is far from being all sunshine and flowers, but what television allows us to do is to escape for a while. Television allows us to enter a small town called Pawnee, Indiana, and television allows us to spend seven years with Leslie, Ben, Ron, April, Andy, and all the rest.

I’m not going to go into specifics about every little thing that happens in the finale, but there are several scenes and ideas I would like to highlight. There are a few common images that pop up throughout the hour, and I’m talking about the images of pairs and families. We get Donna and Joe, Craig marrying Typhoon, Jerry/Garry with all his children and grandchildren, Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole, Leslie and Ben with their kids, Ann with her kids, Tom and Lucy, and even Joe and Jill Biden. This all falls under the umbrella of the idea brought up when Leslie talks to Andy about having children: “You and Andy are a team. You’re just adding more people to your team.” Throughout the series, we’ve seen people at odds with each other, but what the show constantly returns to is the idea of teamwork, the idea that you can get anything done when you’re doing it with people you love. That is what makes work worth doing.

And so, it’s only fitting that Leslie’s wish is to see all these people in the same place at the same time. They’re all part of a team, and she understands and loves each and every one of them. That perhaps is displayed best in her final few scenes with Ron, which comes as no surprise because the Leslie-Ron scenes have frequently been the most poignant ones in the show. As they hold hands while sitting on a swing, we flashforward to see Ron as the new superintendent of Pawnee National Park, and his “Thank you” to Leslie carries the weight of a long and lovely history between the two. The most beautiful moment, however, comes right after that when we see Ron by himself in a canoe. The visuals are striking, Nick Offerman is fabulous, and the pure joy that emanates from that scene is infectious. I’ll miss you, Ron Swanson.

I’ll miss this show in general. I’ll miss the small incremental changes made by the Parks department every single day. I’ll miss seeing all these characters work hard at work worth doing. In the finale, Ron tells Leslie that he “wants to feel useful”, but as we’ve learned over these last seven years, “being useful” does not necessarily mean only working your butt off. It also means caring for others and being cared for, and it means recognizing your place in a community. It means finding the joy in life and in work and in family and in friends, and it means laughing and connecting and crying and living. Thanks for conveying that, Parks, and thanks for a great seven years.

Finally, thanks to all the people who worked on this show. You are all beautiful tropical fish.

GRADE: A-

SEASON GRADE: B+

SERIES GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-The look Leslie gives Ben after he announces that she’s running for governor is wonderful. Great, great moment for both Poehler and Scott there.

-Leslie pushing Ben out of the way to get to Ann. I would’ve expected nothing less. Also, “You look like a cartoon princess.” I will never get tired of Ann compliments.

– “Who could’ve predicted the country would run out of beef?”

– “Did you use an egg donor or give Ron a hall pass for a night?”

-So, we don’t get a definitive answer–and Sepinwall’s review has Schur stating that it’s the show’s Sopranos moment–but there is a suggestion that either Leslie or Ben is the President in 2048. After all, that would explain the bodyguards.

-April giving birth with that makeup on and “Monster Mash” playing in the background: perfect. Same goes for the April-Andy discussion afterward about what to name the baby.

-The ending song is the Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line”. Great choice to end the series with.

-Remember the good ‘ol days? You know, back when we had the Community/Parks/Office/30 Rock lineup on NBC Thursdays? Well, that’s over now. Enjoy The Night Shift or whatever the hell the network’s putting there now.

-Also, for anyone out there, can we please praise this finale without feeling the need to bash The Office? I’ve seen people doing so already, but let’s not forget: The Office was a brilliant show for a long time, and it’s the reason we even have Parks and Recreation.

-RIP, Harris Wittels.

-Favorite episodes? Favorite seasons? Least favorite seasons? Season 3 truly was the pinnacle of this show, and it was one of my favorite comedy seasons of all time.

Photo credit: NBC, Parks and Recreation

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8 Responses to “Parks and Recreation “One Last Ride” Review (7×12/7×13)”

  1. Marshall February 24, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    The gay penguin episode always has a special place in my heart since it was the episode that got me hooked on the show again.

  2. Hepburn3 February 25, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    This for me was one of the most satisfying show closings ever.
    It was funny and heartfelt. 🙂
    I loved it and for me the only thing that was missing is what happened to Tammy 2?
    I like to think that she is running a brothel/library somewhere.
    The best parts for me was the way that Ron and Leslie summed up their relationship and watching Ron in his canoe. So wonderful. 🙂
    Leslie and Ann’s reunion and how she pushed Ben aside to get to her cartoon princess bestie!
    The fact that Gerry had the BEST and most rounded and happy life out of all of them. I never really liked how they were all so mean to him, except for Donna in the end.
    The fact that Gail looked amazing after all these years.
    Jean-Ralphio, I adore him because “BASICALLY HE’S HOMELESS” and his funeral tune had me on the floor.
    I love that Leslie Knope showed what feminism really is and it is not about hating men as some might think.
    Leslie Knope is the type of friend that everyone would dream of having.

    Yes I too long for those days of Community/Parks/Office/30 Rock, they made for some very funny,talented and clever tv nights,and now egads who the dillio knows and understands what is on anymore. The funny and smart have gone. 😦
    And yes no to The Office bashing because without The Office we would have no Parks and Rec! 🙂

    As for my favourite episodes they were all the ones with Tammy 2 in them and any with Jean-Ralphio.

    Oh and it is Chris who is Ann’s husband not Ron. 🙂

    Nice review Polarbear I will miss this show too.

    • polarbears16 February 25, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

      Also missing: DJ Roomba! 🙂 And yes, the constant mean-spirited jabs at Garry/Jerry recently were starting to annoy me. I’m so glad for what they did for his character at the end of the series.

      Ooh, thanks for the catch. Accidentally typed Ron.

  3. Matthew Thompson February 25, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Good ending. It felt especially appropriate for this show as it became a bit more sentimental/heartfelt over the years. It wasn’t all that funny, but even then it had its moments. I particularly liked Leslie’s reaction to Ann and the stuff with Andy/April having a kid that you mentioned in the bullets.

    Season 3 (and I’d lump in the last stretch of Season 2 with it) was certainly the show at its peak and definitely some all-time great stuff as far as sitcoms go.

    It was a quality show, but a B+ seems about right for a grade overall. I think looking at the whole of it, it doesn’t feel top-tier all-time (for example, of that wave of NBC comedies I’d put 30 Rock in that top tier), but I always enjoyed it even in its less good seasons. I will certainly miss it, but am glad it ended when it did if that makes sense. Great review!

    • polarbears16 March 1, 2015 at 12:10 am #

      Yeah, I’d definitely put 30 Rock above this, and I prefer The Office (even given it had lower lows). Still a great show, though.

  4. Mel February 25, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    The level of Secret Service protection she has at Garry’s funeral suggest that she becomes president at some point. Or Supreme Court (Sandra Dee O’Connor). Good finale. It was like the Six Feet Under ending but for an entire episode. (I can just close my eyes and think about the last 10 minutes of Six Feet Under and I start crying… so good). This was a well done finale. Jean-Ralphio had be cracking up. I also liked that he told Leslie that he loves her. We all love her.

  5. Douchebag Batman February 26, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    I loved it. I’m also into sappy, “IN THE FUTURE” type endings. We also had Jean-Ralphio reveal his terminal case of get-me-to-the-front-of-the-line-at-Six-Flags. Hopefully he recovers.

    Hate to admit I welled up a bit at the message to Harris. Between that and this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! it’s been a week of comedic sadness. Yeah, we’ll call it that.

  6. abmuller87 October 14, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Ann *and Chris with *their kids

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