Thursday, April 24, 2014

REVIEW: 'Parks and Recreation' - Leslie Knope Makes a Decision About Her Future & the Unity Concert is a Success in 'Moving Up'

NBC's Parks and Recreation - Episode 6.21 Moving Up

Leslie, Ben and Andy head to San Francisco for a National Parks Conference. Tom opens his restaurant, Ron has another run-in with his ex-wife Tammy 2, Andy lives a rock and roll fantasy and Leslie makes a huge decision about her future.

The cost of being a perennial on-the-bubble show is having to craft a season finale that can also serve as series finale should the network fail to bring the series back. During its run, Parks and Recreation has done a couple of these finales. Ones that could function as the final episode of the series but also leave the world open to continue telling stories about these characters. Surprisingly enough, Parks and Recreation has already been renewed for a seventh season. And yet, "Moving Up" still functions like a series closer despite having one serious game changing final minute.

This season has been about these characters expanding their horizons and rediscovering themselves. Pawnee, Indiana is the setting of the show but this season took the time for trips to London, Paris and San Francisco. These people are ambitious and sooner or later their ambitions will outgrow the small pond they live in. Leslie's job offer for the National Parks Office in Chicago was a focus of moving on up in the world. She loves Pawnee. She has effected a lot of change to the town during her tenure in her various offices. She ultimately takes the job knowing that she's left this town much better the way she found it. And somehow she manages to get everything she wants. She gets the job and gets to stay in Pawnee too. It's a bittersweet moment. She's leaving the basic foundation of the show in order to do something that she would be perfect for. She's packing up her things - only to hang them up in a new office on the third floor.

But this season has also been about Leslie's biggest job ever for Pawnee - the merger with Eagleton. It's a story that had its bumps along the way. Annoying Leslie was heavily present in the beginning and that's a trait the show has done to death by now. The recurring citizens of Pawnee - especially Jamm - were just as loathsome as ever but nothing new really came from them. During the second half of the year, Leslie and the gang at Parks were working towards this Unity Concert. Its the event we're all expecting to happen in the finale. And it goes off triumphantly. Its successful in everything that Leslie set out for it to do. It was a wonderful celebration about all the unique and odd but really fun aspects of Pawnee.

So many characters ended the season in a happy place too. Tom's new restaurant is a success and he got to have the last laugh with Dr. Saperstein. Andy's happy performing as Johnny Karate but he also got to sing the Lil Sebastian song one more time with his band and everyone else at the Unity concert. Ron's relationship with Diane and his new family has changed him. But it's a change that he loves. He gets up on that stage to reveal himself as Duke Silver for his family and how proud they are of him. Lastly, Ben runs into The Cones of Dunshire again and even manages to get the rights to it.

And then, that final scene happened. The show jumped ahead in time three years. Leslie is the head of National Parks and the new office is busy and booming. Jon Hamm pops by for a cameo appearance as Ed, a bumbling worker worse than Garry/Jerry/Larry - who's now being called Terry. And of course, Leslie has had her triplets and they are now toddlers.

It's all a wonderful shakeup for the show. It heads into the seventh season - which everyone is assuming is going to be the final season - with excitement. It's still the same show. And yet, the characters will be different when next we see them. They all seem happy with their lives but it's so thrilling to see how this three year gap has changed them or what they are up to in their lives now. I can't wait.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Moving Up" was written by Aisha Muharrar & Alan Yang and directed by Michael Schur.
  • Michelle Obama also made a cameo appearance early in the finale which resulted in one of the best flustered and awkward Leslie Knope scenes ever. That high five!
  • Andy reacting to new surroundings is always a good thing. So bringing him along to San Francisco is just all kinds of wonderful. Especially when he sent that skateboard down the hill.
  • Destroying a chair he just made because it was too perfect really is the essence of Ron Swanson.
  • The time jump also skips over the awkward parts of Leslie and Ben starting their family. Them being sleep deprived over newborns would have been a stall and unfunny bit for them. The show will always be about these characters at the office in Pawnee but toddlers could be a better side note for them.
  • Well, that's it for now everyone. See you again in the fall for Season 7!