This final season of Parks and Recreation has done a wonderful job of showcasing everything viewers love about this show, especially its heart, humor, and wholly uncynical celebration of friendship. So it felt absolutely perfect that this week’s second episode focused on Leslie and Ron, whose friendship has always been the heart of the show. It’s been tough to see what their relationship has become over the last three years, but after this beautiful episode of reconciliation, it all seemed worth it. There was so much to love here: Leslie annoying Ron into talking (as she has done, usually out of love, for the entire series), Ron’s quiet admittance as to why he left the Parks Department (played with heartbreaking realism by Nick Offerman), and finally, that perfect montage (set to Willie Nelson’s “Buddy” no less), where they put the Parks Department back to its rightful state. In a season that has introduced job changes, relationship developments, and friendships that have fallen to the wayside, it was a bit of sweet, well-earned relief to see this friendship mended and the Parks Department returned to the way it looked in the pilot.
The structure of this episode was also superb; with all of the action taking place in one room, it felt more like a play than an episode of television, which gave it a wonderful intimacy. It also showed the strength of the characters and their relationship that they could not only carry an entire episode like that, but also make it one of the most emotional in the show’s history. With the Newport vote still ahead of them, Ron and Leslie may never be on the same side again in their professional lives, but this episode proved that it hardly matters, as long as they are friends.