Parks and Rec Recap: Leslie vs. Ron
“Hail Zorp!” We’re back to regular-form episodes of Parks and Recreation now that last week’s shows have laid the groundwork for this final season. And in “William Henry Harrison,” we pick up with Team Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), which includes April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), in interviewing Pawnee residents in hopes of getting them to back their proposal to make the Newport land a national park.
After the credits roll, we join Team Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), anchored by Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna Meagle (Retta), as they meet with Roscoe (Jorma Taccone), the Vice President of Cool New Shiz at Gryzzl. In that meeting, the others try to persuade Ron that they need a local celebrity to serve as the face of their proposal, as Gryzzl is the outsider. But the sky is blue, and Ron is stubborn: “I prefer quality over flash. That’s why I refuse to write my signature in cursive.” Ron finally concedes (!) when he learns Leslie is also seeking local support for her proposal. Team Swanson then decides that local lifestyle expert/Gwyneth Paltrow knockoff Annabel Porter (Erinn Hayes), the owner of local vegan brand Bloosh, is the best choice to give good face to their proposal.
Upon meeting Annabel, we learn that “asymmetrical overalls, angora toothbrushes, and locally sourced Italian flip-flops” are in this season. Yep, that’s Ms. Porter in a nutshell.
Back at the national parks office, Andy tries to help April with her flagging career passions. Leslie meets with someone from the Pawnee Historical Society who shares that former U.S. president William Henry Harrison (WHH) had a previously unknown hunting lodge on the Newport land. Before ducking out to gather information on WHH, Leslie explains that Harrison didn’t wear a coat at his presidential inauguration, caught a cold, and died 32 days later. She proclaims him to be “an embarrassing footnote, but our embarrassing footnote.” Team Knope visits Grouseland, the WHH Home, which is “so lame” in April’s estimation because it doesn’t have enough WHH paraphernalia to fill the space. Even so, Team Knope manages to find enough info to present its proposal, including a large tin-and-paper ball rolled town-to-town and then to Washington, D.C., during WHH’s presidential campaign. (No, really.)
Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) leads the B plot of this episode, in which he and Terry (nee Barry, et al.; Jim O’Heir) embark on a quest to get point-of-sale documents signed and notarized by both Leslie and Ron. (Turns out Terry has fulfilled a lifelong goal of becoming a notary. Aim high, kids!) It’s a weak subplot necessary to keep the gang together, and it propels everyone into the Jermaine Jackson Memorial Ballroom (another nice touch by Parks and Rec). There, Team Swanson interrupts the end of Leslie’s presentation with its own, which proves to be much more boisterous and exciting with the aforementioned Porter accompanied by the Somebody’s Daughters Dancers. All this brings Leslie and Ron to verbal blows, with Leslie exclaiming, “I can’t even stand your stupid name. Ron. Ron. It’s not even a word!”
Finding her holed up in her office later, Ben offers Leslie the chance to rename their triplets Ruth, Bader, and Ginsburg if she commits to meet with Ron at a neutral site, which ends up being the old Pawnee Parks Department offices. We quickly see that the entire gang has set them up to lock them in the office until they make up—or until 8 a.m., whichever comes first.
Cue fade to black and that classic “To Be Continued …” wording. A couple seconds later: “… Right now.”
The ensuing episode, “Leslie and Ron,” starts out as expected with these two strong-willed individuals. “I would rather bleed out than sit here in this room and talk about my feelings for 10 hours,” Ron bellows.
We quickly learn that Craig (Billy Eichner) has taken over as Pawnee Parks’ new chieftain, and he’s changed all the decor therein.
Throughout the night, Leslie tries to torture Ron into speaking about their disagreement—by dripping water onto his moustache, blowing a fan in his face, covering his entire body in Post-Its, and playing Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” This leads to our favorite scene of the night:
Leslie finally wears down Ron, and we learn that Morningstar was the name of an apartment complex that his company set out to build right next to Pawnee Commons, the park that includes a perennial Parks and Rec location: the pit. Morningstar not only blocked the views from within Pawnee Commons but also catalyzed the demolition of Ann Perkins’s (Rashida Jones; or according to Ron, “the nurse”) home. Leslie succinctly describes this to Ron as “spitting on everything we did together at Parks.”
Through a series of flashbacks, one including the creepy Orin (Eric Isenhower), we learn Ron is at odds with Leslie because 1) she stood him up for lunch in the midst of a hectic workday, and 2) he had intended at that lunch to ask her for a (gulp) federal government job. The two old “work proximity associates” (read: friends) finally make amends, and then the complete Parks and Rec crew finds them the next morning. Leslie and Ron are once again at it with a rendition of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” only this time they are harmoniously out of sync:
We end this week’s dual-episode showing of Parks and Rec with Ron and Leslie walking out to get breakfast at the infamous JJ’s Diner. They echo their own sentiments shared several seasons back, only this time the lines are reversed. Ron: “Why does anybody in the world ever eat anything but breakfast food?” Leslie: “People are idiots, Ron.”
See our Parks and Recreation final-season recap blog and more coverage here. The show’s series finale airs February 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Going through withdrawal between episodes? More info is on the websites for the show and the (psst, fictional) Town of Pawnee.