Leslie Knope has a whole lot to clear off her plate before “Parks and Recreation” closes out its season.
The perennially upbeat Leslie (Amy Poehler) is still trailing Bobby Newport (guest star Paul Rudd) in her campaign for the Pawnee City Council, and she has only a few weeks to make up the ground. She’s also still doing her job at the parks department, and that puts her in a tough spot in Thursday’s (April 19) episode.
She lobbies a councilman (guest star Bradley Whitford) to keep her department’s budget intact, and he agrees. What feels like a win for Leslie, though, comes with some unintended consequences.
“This episode is about realizing she has to make tough choices,” Poehler tells Zap2it via e-mail. “If she wants to win she has to start thinking bigger. This might mean not being able to take care of her friends the way she used to.”
Which is not to say “Parks and Recreation” is suddenly becoming a political drama — though because of Whitford’s presence, there are a couple “West Wing” references in Thursday’s episode, “Live Ammo.” We also asked Poehler about the rest of the season and her forthcoming directorial debut with the April 26 episode, “The Debate.” Here’s what she had to say:
Zap2it: How “West Wing”-esque is this week’s episode? How much walking and talking is there?
Amy Poehler: There is only one walk and talk, but it’s with Bradley Whitford so it is a power-packed, star-studded “w and t” (that’s what we call it in the biz).
Aside from the climax of Leslie’s campaign, what else can we look forward to in the final episodes of the season?
Hilarious performances from Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn. Fighting, tears, pie and Ron Swanson [Nick Offerman] climbing a telephone pole. [Editor’s note: That bears repeating, in italics: Ron Swanson climbing a telephone pole.]
You shot two endings for this season. We don’t want to know which one will air, but do you think one played better than the other, or are they about equal?
They were totally different and both very emotional for us. It was really cool that win or lose, Leslie realized she was so grateful for her friends.
How was your experience directing “The Debate”? Did the fact that you also wrote the episode make the job any easier?
It was great fun and hard work. I made sure to have a lot of hushed arguments with myself in front of people just so people knew I was good at collaborating with myself.
“Parks and Rec” isn’t an especially guest star-driven show, but is there anyone you’d really like to get for next season?
Every night, I light a candle and whisper the name “Bill Murray” into my pillow. The Gods must do the rest.
“Parks and Rec” airs at 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC.