Parks and Recreation quickly solved some of the problems it set up for itself in last week's episode, but in its season finale, the show took a literal leap that makes certain that Pawnee's dedicated civil servants will face unfamiliar challenges in the upcoming season. Let's just say that, yes, Leslie Knope apparently can have it all.
Last night, the show aired an episode that felt like a series finale, which is not unusual for this show. Throughout the years, creator Mike Schur and his team have made sure that the season closers could stand on their own in case the show didn't get picked up for a following season. This episode, however, felt grand in its conclusiveness.
There were special guests: namely, Michelle Obama left Leslie speechless and a bunch of musicians popular in the '90s and early 2000s entertained the town. There were beloved guest stars: Megan Mullally made an appearance as Tammy 2, and Ben Schwartz and Jenny Slate showed up as the world's worst siblings, Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa Saperstein. There were callbacks to some of the show's classic bits: both Lil' Sebastian and Mouse Rat got shout outs. A big conflict was resolved. Instead of moving to Chicago to work for the National Parks Service, Leslie Knope moved the National Parks Service to Pawnee. And the episode ended with a jump forward in time. Now in the timeline of the show, three years have passed and Leslie is doing a fantastic job in her new gig, firing Jon Hamm, and shuffling off her adorable triplets to be babysat by April and Andy. Oh, and Ben is wearing a tux for some reason. It probably has to do with the Cones of Dunshire.
Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Schur and the show's staff decided to give Leslie triplets. That move felt like both a cheap gag—lol, so many babies!—and an impossible hole from which the show would eventually need to emerge. The revelations of this week’s episode in some ways don’t change my opinion about the pregnancy plot, even though they do solve the problem as to how the show would handle the nine months in which Leslie would be carrying the children. The fact that Leslie was having triplets was, for the most part, a one-episode joke because the leap forward at the end of the finale seemed to imply that Leslie very quickly figured out how to balance her career and her children.
The end of the sixth season certainly gives the series something to play with as we get to watch Leslie in her new gig with her three kids. But how different will the show actually be? The show has already explored Leslie taking on a job besides Deputy Director of Pawnee Parks and Recreation when she became a councilwoman; the show may not actually break that much new ground by showing her in her new position. Besides, not that much has changed. Larry’s still there messing up, only his name is Terry now. The next season may be the show’s last—even fans are arguing the show should wind down —and the change of tone, no matter how slight it may end up being, may be just the way for it to head out in style.