[Spoiler alert: The following contains details from Tuesday’s series finale of Parks and Recreation. Read at your own risk and, for optimal enjoyment, with some sweet Mouse Rat tunes playing in the background.]
Parks and Recreation‘s final ride turned into a journey through time that would make even Doc Brown jealous. In the NBC comedy’s final episode, Leslie, Ben, Ron, Tom, April, Andy, Donna and Garry meet up at their old stomping grounds to say bon voyage before Leslie, Ben, April, Andy and Donna leave Pawnee forever. However, a resident comes into the office complaining about a swing near his house that has been broken for three months. None of them work there, but of course they’re going to fix it, because this is Leslie Knope. The gang’s successful quest to fix the swing spans the entire hour, but it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds because the episode is littered with lengthy flash-forwards to many different years in the future. Read on to find out what the future holds for our favorite government employees:
Donna, 2023: Donna and Joe are living in Seattle – where they are building “space haystacks” around the Space Needle to make it less visible – and Donna is killing it as a real estate agent. She and Joe have reveled in her success by taking crazy trips around the world, including “Middle Korea,” but she decides to use her money for a better cause when Joe informs her that the math club, and math in general, has been axed at his school due to budget cuts. Donna calls in April to help set up a “Teach Yo Self” program through April’s foundation that will give money to Joe and his fellow teachers to set up after-school programs for art, math and whatever else. The best part of this flash-forward is, obviously, learning that Donna worked on a Nascar pit crew and came in ninth on Italy’s Got Talent.
Craig, 2019: Did we need this flash-forward? Not really, but it’s a sweet scene showing Craig and Typhoon, from Donna’s wedding, eventually getting hitched. Ron is the best man, and Horatio Sanz is officiating so no complaints here. The scene fast-forwards again to an indeterminable time in the future when the happy couple is on some sort of a see-through or glass spaceship drinking champagne to celebrate their anniversary. Typhoon says he has no regrets. Craig says he has “thousands,” natch.
April and Andy, 2022: Some things never change so when time jumps ahead, April is in full Janet Snakehole mode and Andy is dressed as Burt Macklin. It’s Halloween, and they head to Leslie and Ben’s house. Leslie is dressed as Sandra Dee O’Connor (it’s exactly what you think it is) and Ben as dressed as “The Lamp Lighter,” a character from his new board game, “Cones of Dunshire: Winds of Tramora.” April and Andy are very conflicted about whether to have kids. Andy wants them. A lot. April isn’t certain. But Leslie gives her the best pep talk ever. And a year later, on Halloween in 2023, April gives birth in full zombie makeup, to the tune of “Monster Mash,” in Pawnee and with the help of Dr. Saperstein. It’s a boy, and they name him Jack.
Jean-Ralphio, 2022 Nooooooo, cruel world! Jean-Ralphio cannot be dead! Although there are a group of mourners standing around his tombstone and, as per his final wishes, “Bend Ova” by Lil Jon feat. Tyga is playing in tribute, Jean-Ralphio is definitely alive and watching from behind a tree. Phew! Turns it out he’s just running an insurance scam with his equally bat-sh– crazy sister Mona-Lisa so that they use the money to open a casino.
Tom, 2019 Tom’s Bistro has the opportunity to expand to 20 restaurants across the country in the next five years. Tom assembles Ron, Donna, and Ben – who is now a Congressman!! – to decide what to do. They all say to go for it. Cut to: Tom on his couch watching a documentary about his failure, all narrated in one of Tom’s hilarious voices, that Tom himself made. Broke, destitute and “swaggerless,” Lucy urges him to come up with a new idea – he’s so good at that, after all. Cut to: Tom on a huge stage talking about his international bestseller Failure: An American Success Story. The best part is that Tom’s book outlines seven specific types of successful people: the Leslies, the Bens, the Rons, the Toms, the Aprils, the Andys and the Donnas. But he says no one should want to be a Garry.
Garry, 2048 A few weeks into 2017, Garry miraculously wins the Pawnee mayoral campaign thanks to a write-in campaign and goes on to hold the office for 10 terms. He lives to be 100, at which point he dies happily in his sleep. Amy and Ben attend his funeral, but suspiciously, a guard behind them in a dark suit tells them it’s time to go. Also, they misspelled Garry’s name on his tombstone. This guy can’t even catch a break in death!
Ron, 2022 Once Very Good is a successful business, Ron quits and asks Leslie what he should do next. She tells him to meet her at the national park Leslie built next to Pawnee and asks him to be superintendent for the park. Although this means he’ll have to work for the federal government, Ron accepts and is seen canoeing across the park’s lake to the tune of Willie Nelson’s “Buddy.”
Leslie and Ben, 2025 Famous politician alert! Leslie and Ben are officially in the big leagues, aka attending a dinner party at Vice President Joe Biden’s house where she challenges him to game of charades. The dinner turns serious when Leslie is approached by the DNC about running for Governor of Indiana. At the same dinner, Jen returns and approaches Congressman Ben about the same role. Completely conflicted about who should run, they assemble everyone in Pawnee at the old parks office to help them figure it out. Even Ann and Chris are there! They have two kids, and they are moving back so Chris can work at admissions for Indiana University. He is, obviously, still in perfect health. We also learn that April is pregnant with Baby No. 2. When Ben and Leslie approach the group with their dilemma, Ben interrupts and announces Leslie is running for governor, because it was in her childhood dream journal.
Leslie, 2035 Leslie is speaking at Indiana University, where she is receiving a honorary doctorate and the university is naming the library after her – ugh, libraries are the worst! – after her two successful terms as governor. She gives a great speech about the importance of hard work and a great time, and says that “soon, a new unknown challenge awaits me which to me even now is thrilling.”
The episode ends with a lot of wonderful outtakes and a note for longtime Parks and Rec writer and co-executive producer Harris Wittels, who died last week, saying “We love you, Harris” from the Parks crew.
So does this all mean Leslie Knope becomes President? Between her ominous speech and the Secret Service-like guard standing behind her and Ben at Garry’s funeral, it seems safe to assume. And this is Parks and Recreation after all! An optimistic show with an optimistic heroine, so let’s be optimistic and hope that Leslie someday gets to be the Commander-in-Chief. Let’s even go a step further and hope that Leslie does such a great job, they eventually carve her face into the side of a mountain at the national park she established Mount Rushmore-style. We’re totally putting that in our dream journal.
So what did you think of the Parks and Recreation series finale?
Parks and Recreation Video: See every time someone talks about Ben’s butt
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