Parks and Recreation Recap: Everybody’s Changing
“The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show”
Now to introduce this week’s episodes here is us, Joooooosh and Jonathan. (We all aspire to the same level of panache held by that lovably dim Perd Hapley, don’t we?)
Parks and Recreation has created such a deep universe of screwball characters that its creators feel they can put together an entire show-within-a-show for 22 minutes. That’s brave. Unfortunately, in this already shortened final season, one can’t help but feel slightly cheated out of another regular episode with our favorite residents of Pawnee, Indiana. Even so, instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s take advice from Johnny Karate and list our top five moments from this episode.
1. We should all try to be nice to someone every day. That said, cheers to the Reggie Wayne Colts jersey on the wall in the studio.
2. All of the faux–Pawnee-centric commercials. For one, Paunch Burger: “Put it in your body or you’re a nerd!”
3. Andy and Ben both get knighted by Andy’s old boss, His Royal Excellence Lord—now Sir—Edgar Darby Covington, the 14th Earl of Cornwall-Upon-Thames and the 29th Baron of Hartfordshire. Or, if you will, Eddie (Peter Serafinowicz).
4. The return of that ever-debonair special agent Burt Tyrannosaurus Macklin.
5. Everyone deserves to find their very own Verizon Chipotle Exxon, especially if it at all resembles the unconditional love that April and Andy exemplify:
“And that’s the Johnny Karate way!”
We find ourselves gazing at the show’s penultimate episode, and it’s soon obvious that the creators of our beloved Pawnee are pulling out all the stops to send us out with a proverbial bang. The episode starts with the gang discussing a few big-life decisions. As we know—or know now—April and Andy are moving to Washington, D.C.; Leslie and Ben will soon split their time between Pawnee and D.C.; Donna and Joe just closed on a house in Seattle; and Garry has decided to retire (again). Cue April: “This is about people who are moving, Garry. Not everything is about you.”
Pawnee’s fabled mayor, Walter Gunderson, is finally revealed as none other than the equally fabled Bill Murray! <gasp> And he is dead! <double gasp>
After taking in Mayor Gunderson’s
woefully wonderfully premeditated farewell message to the people of Pawnee, we learn that he carried on a torrid 46-year love affair with none other than cantankerous court stenographer Ethel Beavers (Helen Slayton-Hughes). “Grow up, you prudes. We’re all adults!” The death of Mayor Gunderson propels our beloved crew of Pawnee professionals through this episode.
Ben is on a mission to find an interim mayor—and, for some odd reason, asks April for her help choosing the best candidate.
Garry is also roped in, with the promise that he will get to notarize the interim mayor’s official documents. Ben and April begin interviewing potential candidates, which opens the door for a montage of Pawnee’s wacky recurring characters, all of whom appropriately decline the office. There’s Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd), who is, for a lofty price, heading into outer space soon; Joan Callamezzo, who notes she’s just 27 years young (as she opens a bottle of pills); Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler), who’s just too busy with both his practice and his “two horrible children,” including Mona-Lisa Saperstein (Jenny Slate), who says of the mayoral opening, “I will do John Mayer … again.”
And finally there’s The Douche (Nick Kroll), he of Crazy Ira and The Douche infamy, that shock-jock pair from 93.7 The Groove of Pawnee. He’s predictably inappropriate: “I’m gonna change my mayoral office into my oral office.” Ben finally concedes to April’s advice that he serve as interim mayor. Then again, being in the presence of The Douche would likely make any man realize a few healthy choices.
Meanwhile, Leslie works feverishly with Tom to create an over-the-top marriage proposal for Lucy. In that effort, they visit local banner shop Signtology and film a brief action sequence that features none other than Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz), Dr. Saperstein’s aforementioned Horrible Child No. 2. As Tom and Leslie wait at the airport for Lucy to arrive, Tom realizes that their plan isn’t right. He quickly asks Leslie grab three things, as well as Jean-Ralphio—and to meet him at the Snakehole Lounge.
Departure: Ron’s longtime barber Salvatore has passed, thus the episode’s second titular funeral. Donna and Andy work not only to comfort Ron but also to find him a new hairstylist. Through some trial and error, they finally find the perfect fit:
In true Parks fashion, each story line treads into unexpected territory: Ron befriends Typhoon over their shared hatred of “Euro-trash.” Lucy says yes to marrying Tom. And Ben taps Garry Gergech as Pawnee’s interim mayor. Leslie, always quick to think on her feet, turns Tom’s over-the-top marriage-proposal plan into Garry’s inauguration celebration. It’s replete with a red carpet, fireworks, hot-air balloon, and cameos by some members of the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus, who sing K-Ci and Jo-Jo’s “All My Life.” It’s a stellar sendoff for Garry, who ambles into that hot-air balloon. “I’m flying!” he says joyfully, presumably spiriting away to Oz.
Lil’ Sebastian Droppings
» “I don’t care, Batman. You work for me. Increase the perimeter!” Because of course Batman works for special agent Burt Macklin.
» Donna, on her own (im)mortality: “Before I die, I’m freezing my head like Ted Williams. Wait a thousand years, thaw it out, slap it on a robot, keep on rolling.”
» Ron, beside Sal’s casket: “The three most important people in a man’s life are his barber, his butcher, and his lover. I have lost one of those. Here’s a tenner, Sal. [puts $10 bill in casket] As you know, I don’t believe in tipping, so I will collect my change from your wife.”
» That tagline for Wamapoke Casino: “Slowly taking back our money from white people, one quarter at a time.”
» Duke Silver and Donna duet on Johnny Karate’s farewell show.
» Mouse Rat’s own Behind the Music–esque story:
» John Cena as a martial arts superstar
» Another gem of a nickname from Tom Haverford: “Leslie-gally Blonde.”
» If you missed it, Shia LeBeouf is, in the show’s year 2017, an accomplished jewelry designer.
» We finally learn why Jean-Ralphio is the way he is:
» Sam Elliott returns as the Bizarro World (to steal from another NBC sitcom) version of Ron.
Next week’s episode of Parks and Recreation will be its last. Who knows what dreams and squeamish moments may come?
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.