‘Parks and Recreation’ Season Finale Review: “Moving Up Part 1 and 2″
'Parks and Recreation' brings season 6 to a close tonight with the two-part finale episode, in which Leslie, Ben and Andy head to San Francisco for the National Parks conference, Tom's restaurant opens, and Ron has yet another terrifying run-in with Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally). It's also about time for that big unity concert, right?
"Moving Up" could most definitely be a series finale, with how much time is spent in both parts neatly wrapping things up -- and it makes sense, given that 'Parks and Rec' has been teetering on the edge of cancellation for the last few seasons. Honestly, especially after this week's finale, it's probably for the best that they make season 7 their last, not because I don't want Leslie Knope in my life on a weekly basis, but because it just feels natural and right ... and when you start giving all your female characters babies, well, it seems like things are winding down.
Anyway! "Moving Up" is a really solid two-parter, and although much of it is obvious wrapping-up and audience-pleasing stuff, it's still damn great and entertaining wrapping-up and audience-pleasing stuff. The first half of the hour finds Leslie, Ben, and Andy heading off to San Francisco to attend the National Parks Conference, where Leslie is giving a speech ("Merger She Wrote" is the greatest and most Leslie-est speech title ever) and mulling over the job offer which would take her out of Pawnee and off to Chicago. A surprise encounter with MICHELLE OBAMA (all caps totally necessary) convinces Leslie to take the job, but various government workers who've overseen mergers in their own cities warn Leslie that leaving her post leaves Pawnee at risk.
The first half of the hour also brings the amazing return of the Cones of Dunshire, when Ben has to beat the employees at a tech firm at his own game in order to prove Pawnee worthy of free wi-fi -- it's one of the sillier plots of the season, but any plot contrived to bring back the Cones of Dunshire is okay by me.
It's difficult to talk about the episode in two parts because both parts really work together and are sort of seamless. There's the subplot with Tom struggling to get his bistro up and running, with hilarious conflicts and lots of screaming Crazy Craig and clumsy Larry, and this plot also allows for the return of Jean Ralphio and Mona Lisa, as well as their dad.
The second half also brings the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert, and as any 'Parks and Rec' fan knows, a major event/concert episode is going to be wonderful. If this had been the series finale, ending it with the Unity Concert would have been perfect, especially with that roster: The Decemberists (who also appeared on series producer Michael Schur's other show, 'The Office'), Wilco's Jeff Tweedy returning with fictional band Land Ho (is it just me, or does Tweedy look like a cooler Peter Jackson?), Ginuwine (who, if you'll recall, is Donna's cousin, and who also dedicates "Pony" to Lil Sebastian because of course he does), and Letters to Cleo because Ben is obsessed. But the closing of the concert is the best, with Mouse Rat reuniting and all the performers from all the groups coming out on stage to sing the Lil Sebastian anthem, including Duke friggin' Silver. It's at this point we're hilariously reminded that Leslie and Ben are pretty much the only ones who don't know anything about Ron's jazzy alter ego, so that was a pretty great reveal. And it's a testament to the show that, as ridiculous and over the top as this moment is, it's a moment that's just as much for the fans as it is for the characters and for the fictional town of Pawnee, that as much as I was laughing, I was also tearing up big time.
In the end, Leslie finds a way to make sure she can stay in Pawnee because of course she does -- this is where her heart is and she's not abandoning her city, ever, just like she'd never abandon her morals and her ideals, and the beautiful parks she's worked so hard to build. I've read some complaints this week about Leslie's pregnancy storyline and how it diminishes everything she's worked for in her career and everything she's been building for herself over the last six years -- I agree to an extent, if only because I wish pregnancy wasn't the way we wrapped up so many female stories on television. But seeing Leslie take this job and stay in the city with the people she loves makes me love her and believe in her even more.
Oh, and the three-year time jump is a little strange, but I think it also relieves some of the redundant cliches that come with characters having babies, and it will allow for better stories next season, keeping the kids more secondary to the plotting. Plus, Leslie just fired Jon Hamm, so that was pretty awesome and totally helped ease the weirdness of that time jump, right?