The bad news is that Parks and Recreation has officially ended. The good news? It gave us a completely amazing series finale.
As everyone prepares to part ways, they take on one last project at the Parks Department: to fix a swing. As they do, weâ€™re given a series of flash forwards to see what happens to each person over the next several years. Everyone, and I mean everyone, gets their happy ending.
Donna becomes incredibly successful, able to support a lavish lifestyle and a teaching foundation in honor of her husband (because, unfortunately, the future is showing that education has gone down-hill big time).
Thereâ€™s a struggle between Andy and April over whether or not to have kids, but April finally decides to go for it after asking Leslie for advice. Leslie doesnâ€™t tell her to have kids or not to, but she tells her that people have kids to add to their team. Flash forward again to a year later, and April is giving birth to their first. On Halloween. Cue first set of tears!
I love that even though weâ€™re shown the happy endings that everyone eventually comes to, we also see the struggles they have before they get there. Tomâ€™s Bistro fails, and we see Tom struggling with that disappointment. Then we see him become even more successful with his book about failing (of course).
Among my favorite endings is Garyâ€™s. His term as interim mayor leads to a lifetime career as mayor, and it looks like he couldnâ€™t be happier. Oh, and he lives to be 100 years old, celebrating his birthday with a large family and a wife who never seems to age. Leslie and Ben are at the party too, and it looks as though one of them is now President!
Ronâ€™s ending is pretty spectacular too. The first flash forward shows him leaving his building company. Then he goes to Leslie for help and advice, saying he once made the mistake of not coming to her at such a moment, and he wouldnâ€™t make that same mistake again. They talk on a bench in D.C., much like when Leslie helped April figure out her path a few episodes back.
Leslie, as usual, pulls through for Ron, having pulled some strings to get him the perfect job. Heâ€™ll be in charge of the national park just outside Pawnee (yay for the park!), which means he essentially gets to be outside all the time and live in the same town. His face as he gets in that canoe for his first day on the job? Priceless. Heâ€™s giddy, and itâ€™s amazing.
And finally, thereâ€™s the ending for Leslie and Ben. The couple is in D.C. and weâ€™ve watch as their children grow up. Then we see them in the home of Joe Biden both being approached to run for governor of Indiana. Both of them are excited to tell the other they want to run, and they realize they have to choose. Thereâ€™s a pro-con list (are you surprised?) but itâ€™s the same for each of them. They decide to wait until they visit Pawnee to make a decision.
Because Ben is maybe the sweetest guy ever, he plans a surprise for Leslie at the Parks Department. Sheâ€™s been saying all along that all she wants is for all of these people to be in the same place at the same time again. So thatâ€™s exactly what he makes happen, and that group even includes Ann and Chris! I think that all we wanted as an audience was the very same thing â€“ to see everyone together in that room one last time. Itâ€™s perfect.
Still, Ben and Leslie have to decide who will run for governor. Leslie, who we all know values careful planning, suggests they flip a coin. But the look on Benâ€™s face says it all. There will be no coin flipping today. Just as Leslie is about to announce that she and Ben have both been approached to run, Ben interrupts to tell them Leslie is running for governor. And the look on his face is one of complete love. Cure MORE tears.
We flash forward again to see that Leslie has become successful as governor, speaking at the university and earning an honorary doctorate. Oh, and she gets a library named after her, too.
I canâ€™t say enough about how much I loved this finale. It wrapped things up so well and left us with all those great, happy feelings. Even better, it was done with complete intention and without dragging on and on and on. The whole thing felt like a celebration of the show, and makes me want to go back and watch the entire series again from the start. In fact, I think I will!
Every episode of Parks and Rec is available on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.
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