The hook for Thursday’s (Nov. 3) episode of “Parks and Recreation” was that the remnants of the cult that ran Pawnee in the ’70s was once again preparing for the end of the world. Seeing the followers of Zorp was a nice little addition to the canvas of Pawnee.
But what the cultists inspired everyone else to do — even though no one actually believed them — was really, really nice. The mix of really great comedy, including a vintage Leslie freakout, and sweetness makes “End of the World” my favorite episode of the season so far.
The show has touched on the lingering feelings Leslie and Ben have for one another a little this season, but it hasn’t dealt with them head-on until now. And Leslie clearly still wasn’t ready for it, pretty much going bananas when reporter Shauna Malwae-Tweep asks if Ben is single. In true Knope style, she comes up with a half-baked plan to avoid her own feelings/sabotage Shauna and Ben by taking him to an abandoned gas station she claims was owned by Mick Jagger.
As good at Leslie is at most things, she’s equally bad at being emotionally honest. It’s one of the more reliable sources of comedy on “Parks and Rec,” and in this case it also served to further a story that’s been in the background since the season premiere. Leslie and Ben are great together, and they broke up not because they had a falling out but because Ben didn’t want to stand in Leslie’s way of running for city council. So of course there are unresolved feelings on both sides, and it was only a matter of time before they spilled out.
And while they didn’t really resolve anything on their not-last night on Earth, they at least understand each other a little bit better. It’s a smart step for them to take, and as usual Amy Poehler and Adam Scott played the heck out of it. Leslie’s stammering “He’s a man, he’s a worker, and we’ve never discussed sex …” followed by her rant to Ann (“Just because I can’t go out with him, someone else can?!”) was pretty much pitch-perfect.
Meanwhile, Tom and Jean-Ralphio finally hit on the perfect business for Entertainment 720 … on the last night of its existence. They take their last $10,000 and blow it all out on what is, in fact, a really awesome party, with drumlines, a tiger, a bouncy pirate ship … it sounds like something Stefon would describe in a “Weekend Update” segment, but it really was cool.
Plus, Tom’s old girlfriend Lucy returns! She’s in grad school now, and she goes back at the end of the night, but she’s obviously forgiven him for being a tool last season. So maybe we’ll see her again sometime? (Here’s hoping — Natalie Morales and Aziz Ansari have a nice chemistry.)
Andy and April, meanwhile, cross a bunch of stuff off Andy’s bucket list, which segues nicely into the automaker-sponsored webisodes starring Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza but actually ends with a really sweet moment at the Grand Canyon (“I’m trying to find a way to be annoyed by it, but I’m kinda coming up empty”) — perfectly undercut by Andy’s question, “Where are all the faces?”
A couple other notes from “End of the World”:
- Ron may be a devout member of the church of None of Your Go**** Business, but he’s also surprisingly tolerant of the Zorpies. It probably helps that they’re a captive market for his expertly carved flutes and recorders.
- Neither Ann nor Chris had much to do this week, but Chris got a couple of great lines in re: the cultists. Not sure whether I like “That was a tragic day. Live strong” or “I don’t like that thing as much as the other thing you said” better.
- Callback! Not only did we see the return of Burt Macklin, FBI as Andy played out his action-hero fantasy, but he was also saving Janet Snakehole.
What did you think of “Parks and Rec” this week?