“Leslie, would you like to run a branch of the national parks service?” Two episodes after saying goodbye to Ann and Chris, Parks and Recreation sets up the foundation for Leslie’s departure as well- and quite possibly the show’s.
It seems like season six of Parks and Rec has existed so to break down Leslie’s life- at least the one that she lives in Pawnee, anyway. After her successful campaign to become a City Councillor, Leslie had her role revoked, coming back to the Parks department only to find that it had moved on without her. Season six has been running so smoothly because everyone is getting and doing things that they need and want. Except, of course, Leslie. April is helping animals, Andy is singing for children, Ben got his job as city manager back, Tom is achieving his dreams- and realizing that he has more than just one- and Ron, well, Ron just had a son.
John, middle name redacted, Swanson.
So while Leslie spends these episodes back at the Parks department, worrying about her merger and trying to turn a former piece of Eagleton into a national park… We all sense that it can’t last long.
Not because we don’t want to see Leslie in the Parks department, but because people move on, and Parks and Rec has fearlessly been showing us that this season.
Leslie gets a job offer instead of the approval she wanted to make a national park, but responds with a no… For now.
It’s massive at all really, that Leslie even considers an offer that would take her to Chicago. But that’s just what the writers have done this season: set up for this change. Katherine Hahn’s character told Leslie that she was too big for this town, and Pawnee is rejecting her, with more and more aggressiveness. And it’s not only that, but because of Leslie’s past actions, the important people in her live have also moved on.
If Leslie ever was going to leave Pawnee- an idea that she’s finally beginning to consider now seems like the time, everything pointing to her departure.
Seeing Leslie failing is beginning to feel tiring rather than funny, because Leslie herself is loosing faith in her actions as well. So when she’s offered the job, and we see the flashbacks of her posting her proposal at congress, when Ben was working in DC…. It feels good, yet bad- just utterly bittersweet, a moment of panic rising in me, because that felt exactly like what an ending might feel like.
One day Parks and Rec is going to end, and we’ll have to leave Leslie Knope behind. Maybe as the director of the Parks and Rec department, maybe as the mayor of Pawnee, maybe as a mother, or maybe, maybe, as something a little bit more, like a member of the national parks service, or even the President. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to Leslie Knope. And “The Wall” showed us- and Leslie- that her limit doesn’t necessarily have to exist in Pawnee.
Tom has a new business, April is a fully functioning member of government, Ron has a son now, and Ben, well, Ben’s going to follow Leslie anywhere.
With every ending comes a new beginning, maybe even one in Chicago.
(But not yet.)
- April helps to plan the Pawnee-Eagleton unity concert: “I think we should book Orin as a headliner. It’s a no brainer, he dislocates his shoulder to the music of Billy Joel.”
- Pulling down the Eagleton-Pawnee fence as part of a publicity stunt encounters some problems: “Leslie, it appears that most of the people stung by bees were eagletonians. How did you pull that off?”
- Ben (tries to) help Tom with his restaurant plans: “Ben stop! This is so boring! This is like listening to a Ted talk by the colour beige!”
- Why does Leslie get her job offer? Because of this: “You read my proposal to clean up the Pawnee River? I wrote this two years ago.” “This report is legendary.” After episodes of seeing Leslie underappreciated, god it feels good to see the opposite.
- “If I’m going to leave Pawnee, I need to know that it’s going to be ok without me.”