This week's two episodes served as triumphant exclamation points at the end of a strong season
And then we came to the end. Though NBC packaged the final two episodes of Parks and Recreation as a two-part finale, there's no more continuity between them than any other two consecutive episodes this season—but they are two standout episodes that serve as an ideal capper to a remarkably strong third season of the series.
The first of last night's episodes, "The Bubble," deals with the fallout from Ben and Leslie's kiss at the end of last week's "Road Trip." Ben and Leslie are in "the bubble"—that magical time, at the beginning of any relationship, when everything is "white wine, cuddling, and crazy amounts of History Channel documentaries."
Unfortunately for Leslie and Ben, the bubble has to pop sometime. Leslie is horrified to discover that Ben has a meeting with her mother, the legendarily ball-busting Marlene Griggs-Knope. Marlene—a Pawnee city employee herself—has requested four school buses, and Ben's immediate willingness to provide the funding leads Marlene to dismiss him as spineless.
We haven't seen Marlene since season 2's "Galentine's Day," and though the character has largely faded into the background, she's still clearly a major influence in Leslie's life. Leslie is so eager for her mother's approval that she coaches Ben on a list of Marlene's 100 favorite conversation topics. Unfortunately, Leslie's plan works a little too well; Marlene, impressed by Ben's newfound confidence (and his sudden, unexpected interest in both Andrew Carnegie and Calvin and Hobbes), makes a pass at him.