Parks and Recreation: “Leslie & Ron” Season 7 Episode 4 Review

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This is why shows get farewell seasons. The writers have one last chance to make statements about their characters before they ride off into the sunset.

“Leslie & Ron” is a masterful episode of Parks and Rec., putting together a string of unforgettably funny moments followed by the show’s two best characters finding common ground in a difficult time. This is a period at the end of the sentence of Ron Swanson.

After six seasons, we always knew Ron grew to care about his colleagues. But when you really think about it, a lot of them took it for granted. Ron is wise, often offering guidance to those younger than him. What does he get in a return? Not much, yet he still found himself in a place where he wanted to care these people.

A lot can change in three years. Shortly after Leslie got her new job for the National Parks Service, April, Andy, and Terry were quick to join. Tom and Donna, meanwhile, went on to start their own businesses. That leaves Ron at his old post surrounded by new people. The attachments he made are gone and he becomes lonely.

Flashbacks were used sparingly but quite well here. Showing Ron go to Leslie in need of a friend only to be stood-up because of how busy she is was effective. He was going to ask for a job at the National Parks Service, which is part of the federal government (let’s all just take a second to catch our breath). Feeling rejected, he used his company to tear down Ann’s old house to build an apartment complex. Leslie flipped out, and the feud has gotten bad enough that their mutual friends locked them in a room to hash it out.

Leslie’s attempts to get Ron talking were the funniest bits of the season and probably better than all of last season. Finally wearing her old friend down, Ron pulls out the scotch, and the two talk. It’s hard to get sentimental with Ron Swanson in the room, but I found myself fighting tears as they made up. Ron doesn’t know how to ask for help, but only Leslie knows how to force him to.

The rest of the former Parks Department finds them in the morning drunk and dancing around, Ron channeling Duke Silver on the sax. The two finally go on that lunch Ron wanted. It’s not clear where Ron’s story will head next, but now that he’s back on Team Knope, Parks and Rec. can start feeling like its good ol’ self again.

That said, this feud was necessary for the writers to fully examine Ron and his relationship with Leslie before the show ends. The rest of season 7 is a bit of a mystery, but you can bet that there will be one final scene where Ron gives Leslie the advice of her life before she makes a huge decision. Just thinking of that moment made me well-up.

“Leslie & Ron” was a smartly written bottle episode that focused solely on the show’s best friendship. Given some more time and context, I expect this episode to be viewed among the best Parks and Rec. has ever offered. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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