Parks and Recreation, Season 7, Episodes 1 and 2, “2017”/”Ron and Jammy”
January 13th, 2015, 8:00 PM, NBC
Welcome to the final season of Parks and Recreation! We rejoin Leslie and the gang on the other side of a three-year time jump, and the future’s got a lot of twists and turns in store for our Pawnee favorites. First and most prominently, Ron and Leslie have become mortal enemies; Ron founded the Very Good Building and Development Company and it’s been two years since he quit the Parks department over the currently-mysterious ‘Morning Star deal’, where he screwed Leslie over (according to Leslie). Elsewhere, Ben has become city manager, and he worries about the speech Tom is going to give at a gala being held in his name in celebration of him being named head of the Pawnee bicentennial celebration. Andy’s become the star of the ‘Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show”, a Saturday morning show co-starring Jerry/Terry/Garry as Barry the mailman – who constantly gets beaten up. Andy and April are battling complacency and lack of spontaneity and are freaked out when their attempts to be ridiculous and outrageous are quietly outdone, until they find salvation in an extremely quirky abandoned house; Donna’s marrying Joe and owns Regal Meagle Reality; Tom’s Bistro is still a huge hit and he’s successfully managed to open a chain of casual eateries, reaching his dream of being an entrepreneur.
Everything comes together and falls apart at the big dinner, after which the Parks team splits in half, with Andy, April and Jerry on Leslie’s side and everyone else working for Gryzzl and Ron.
In “Ron and Jammy,” Leslie has to go to still-Councilman Jeremy Jamm for support on the vote for the land parcel deal. She quickly discovers that Jamm has fallen under the sway of Tammy 2, and realizes she can use Tammy’s hatred of Ron to sway Jamm toward voting for her…but she ends up influencing the vote in the opposing way, leaving Leslie to figure out how to pry Jamm and Tammy apart. Meanwhile, Ben tries to help April discover her life’s work and passion when she experiences a crises while wrangling an out-of-it Joan Callamezzo during a Pawnee walk of fame ceremony – and their path leads to the mortuary; and Andy and Tom travel to Chicago so a lonely Tom can meet up with his old girlfriend Lucy.
Our big overarching plot ‘o the season features Leslie’s battle to score a large parcel of Newport Family-owned land for a national park, but she must scrimmage for it with Gryzzle, which has become an enormous tech company – and she also must scrounge up $90 million to do it.
I hate to say it – there’s a whiff of later-season Rosanne wafting through this start to Parks’ final season; it’s a bundle of wish fulfillment as everybody reaches for their ultimate goals and then finds them to be just a tad bit hollow. But little details keep pulling me out of the story. Does anyone buy that the gang would drift apart? That they’d all generally manage to nail their dreams in one fell swoop three years after Leslie ended up moving up to work for the country? Hell, that the calm and reasoned Ron would argue with his mentoree Leslie to the point of her going apoplectic at the mention of his name? Conflict is a necessary object for a final season, and we’re obviously building toward one final major victory for Leslie, but Parks has always been about minor victories followed by major failures; this week, all of the major woes fall on April’s shoulders as she suddenly experiences late twenties angst, fretting that she and Andy are boring, then worried that she’s missed her calling in the mortuary field. One is almost braced for them to deliver her into the arms of motherhood, just as Leslie had been last season (sidenoting: why did the show go to such lengths to give Ben and Leslie triplets if we’re never going to see them? It’s as if the writers felt ‘get pregnant’ was a required checkbox on the Big List of Things Couples Must Do Before They Die, no matter if it was organic to Ben and Leslie’s personalities).
But this doesn’t detract from the belly laughs that pile up throughout the episode. From Andy and April’s quest to shock the bourgeois to Werner Herzog as the owner of a macabre abandoned building to Leslie’s breathy Tammy 2 impression to the sight of Tammy 2 screaming invective stark naked in the middle of a library, there isn’t an inch of this episode that doesn’t spit fire when it comes to comedy. And ultimately, that’s what really counts. This season is clearly all about pleasing the fans, filled as it is with past-season in-jokes and character reappearances. And that’s how every long-running series should bow out.
- Leslie says she’s gonna work ‘til she’s 100. I believe it, too.
- John Hamm’s Ed makes another appearance.
- Tom owns Tom’s Bistro, two fast casual eateries and the Tommy Chopper (Chopped Salad served out of a decommissioned military helicopter).
- There’s a plethora of recurring characters from old episodes in this episode, including Ken Hotate, last seen in “Harvest Festival” (whose son sells Bolo ties on Etsy and is a complete disappointment); the Newports , from Multiple episodes; Lucy, last seen in season 3’s “Time Capsule”; and Joan Callamezzo, last seen in “Moving Up” (Who’s fallen off the deep end big time)
- Andy’s Johnny Karate personality was first forged in season five .
- Okay, Ben and Tom hugging and crying was pretty adorable.
- Gryzzl was introduced as a small-time company in season 6’s Moving Up.
- Also Leslie saying Jamm’s the human equivalent of gas station sushi is sort of perfect.
- The extremely cheerful mortician was hilarious, possibly my favorite part (but not as hilarious as the random Werner Herzog cameo).
- Donna Meagle has been banned from every riverboat in Germany. All by her late twenties, too.
- Ron’s infamous ex, Tammy Two, has reoccurred on the show since season three. She’s portrayed by Nick Offerman’s real-life wife, Megan Mullaly.
- Next Week: Leslie tries to strengthen her case for the land parcel to be turned into a park and Ron brings in a celebrity as a minority owner for the plot of land. Meanwhile, Leslie and Ron try to see eye to eye in “William Henry Harrison” and “Leslie and Ron”
While weak on the character logic front, this episode packs in some great jokes. A good watch.