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PARKS AND RECREATION Recap: Ron Versus Leslie

“Everything’s different!” Leslie Knope exclaimed in the second half of tonight’s double-header of Parks and Recreation. Which, yes, we all found fairly evident after last week’s premiere — but now we at least know what the heck all that hate was all about. We are of course referencing the relationship of Leslie and Ron, so embittered and confoundingly un-friendly in this distant Pawneean future. And in the first half of the hour, things were brought to a head.

In her scrambles to win the Newport land for a new national park, Leslie has gone full-Knope, frenzied to beat her mortal enemy and his company’s attempts to win it for Gryzzl. “Hold onto your straws, baby — cuz mama’s goin’ graspin’.” A few hail Zorps later, and the perfect opportunity presented itself: William Henry Harrison, the nation’s saddest Presidential blip, had a cabin on the land. As if scented like waffles, Leslie’s nose smelt the OPPORTUNITY! a mile away.

Even if it turned into a pile of rocks. Literally. Quality clearly out the window that no longer stood on the grounds, Leslie got even more desperate, throwing everything and the kitchen sink (that did not survive into the twentieth century, probably) into a press conference to show the vital importance of said hunting cabin in our nation’s history. Leslie, April, and Andy all went up to the William Henry Harrison Museum to sample its wares — including a giant tin-and-paper ball and a section of Other Famous Harrisons, because what else are you going to put into this guy’s museum? — in order to dazzle the media with a buncha shiny, distracting, hopefully-land-grabbing… stuff. Anything for the guy who refused to wear a coat to his snowy inauguration and died from that poor life decision 32 days later!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the whole of this Leslie vs. Ron fiasco is the effect it has had on Swanson himself. He’s become competitive and vindictive, not only going along with Gryzzl’s plan to land a celebrity and/or tastemaker to support their bid, but also planning a competitive press conference to announce said personality (that Bloosh guru lady) to out-do her. It was too much. Yelling and angry-meanness ensued, and it was not pretty.

So Ben and the gang did what any self-respecting buncha friends would do: locked the two in the old Parks offices without a viable exit option overnight. But Ron’s determination to stay silent were no match for Leslie’s steel trap of friendship (a.k.a. her mind) and purposefully bungle-y interpretation of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

But what came next was something different: the truth. Sure, we found out what Morningstar was — but that was only half the truth (Leslie’s truth, as it were). You see it all began way before that — it started when Leslie left. And then took Jerry Terry. Then April, his compadre in all things grumpy. From there, it was only a matter of time before Donna and Tom left to start their own ventures and suddenly Ron was alone.

And well, it seems our ol’ softy did not like going without his casual work acquaintances (better known as friends to the rest of us). So he scheduled a lunch with Leslie to do the unthinkable: as for a job with the federal government so that he could be back with his friends. Only — oh no! — Leslie stood Ron up because she had to go to DC for work. So instead Ron just quit the Parks Department and started up his business with Leslie none the wiser.

Which isn’t to say that Morningstar wasn’t nothing — Ron tearing down April’s old home (the memories!) and ruining the views of her flagship accomplishment, the Pawnee Commons park, in order to build luxury apartments without mentioning it to Leslie wasn’t great. In fact, “spitting on everything we did together at Parks” felt pretty spot-on emotionally, but ultimately it was just one thing in a long line of seemingly innocuous actions that sometimes pulls people who are friends but also fundamentally different, apart, when distance and time lingers. It’s life.

Thankfully, the one thing that Ron has always admired about Leslie, her integrity, is what saves them. Well, mostly her silliness, but her commitment to ideas — like drunkenly re-decorating the office to make it look like it once had. And I’ll be damned if a montage doesn’t solve absolutely everything (it works for me. Literally every time) between friends. And — oh thank goodness — Leslie and Ron are back together again. Aww shucks, don’t you just love it when everything is beautiful and nothing hurts?

Best Things:
– Sure do wish we got to see the media reaction to Elton John buying Chick-Fil-A. (What would PERD say?!)
– Terry’s “lifelong dream” of becoming a notary public. Of course.
– “Shall we discuss it in my yurt?”
– The Jug-Or-Nots
– Chris Pratt’s delivery of the line: “Zach! Camp Wamapoe, You had a boner! We’ll catch up later.”
– The Somebody’s Daughter Dancers
– Craig running the Parks department is exactly perfect.
– All of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was great but especially “Daddy ate a squirrel,” which felt like it was being sung by a grown-up Kaitlin. (RICK!)
– Please let the 3-minute key whittle become an event in the Swansolympics which are a thing I just made up right now that clearly needs to exist and feature competitions like mustache grooming, meat-carving, and whiskey drinking that declares one winner only known simply as “man.”

Hail Zorp!

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