The last several seconds of “Parks and Recreation’s” fifth season finale “Are You Better Off?” provided a nice surprise — there may be a baby coming to the cast, and not by the parents we expected — but mostly, this episode and season in general was about change. It was even a little sad, seeing our heroine Leslie Knope face haters while fighting for what she believes is right. Five seasons in, life in Pawnee isn’t the same as it was when the series began, and that’s a good thing. “Parks” may not be quite as sharp is it was in previous seasons, notably the third, but it hasn’t lost its heart and sweetness. Creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur know what works, and what works the best, and hopefully they know this world of theirs won’t — and shouldn’t — last forever. We don’t need another “The Office,” watching a once-great show deteriorate to the point of being unrecognizable. May the world be suddenly waffleless before we see a Leslie not trying her damnedest to better her community or waking up in the middle of the night during her Hawaiian honeymoon to watch Elizabeth Warren on “Meet the Press.” We may be nearing the home stretch for one of the best comedies on TV, and it’s OK. We’re better off having had this show so long. Let’s wrap this up with love and style. And if NBC suddenly decides to cancel after this season? Well, we riot.
We’d call on Burt Macklin to lead the way, naturally.
He was on the case to discover which of the ladies in the Parks and Rec world are pregnant, and although all signs pointed to April, her big news was that she has been accepted to veterinary school and won’t be around as much. Ann and Chris are still trying to get pregnant and apparently having a great time practicing, and Tom dodged a bullet when Mona-Lisa (eventually) confessed the positive pregnancy test, Womb! (There It Is), making the rounds wasn’t hers. “Do you know how many pills I take, birth control or otherwise? There is no way that I’d be pregnant with a human baby.” Jean-Ralphio was and is right — she’s the worst.
Tom will have trouble with new competition coming to town. A still-unnamed copycat wanted to buy out Rent-A-Swag but, upon Tom’s refusal to sell, will now open the same type of store directly across the street. Tom best get to Ron’s business advice: “I say you continue to grow, accumulate power, find this investor, buy his business to teach him a lesson.” Too bad he didn’t sell, though. Think of all the missed Treat Yo’ Self opportunities.
Poor Leslie has even bigger obstacles now that a group of unruly, Paunch Burger-loving Pawneeans has decided to attempt to recall her from the City Council. She still has Ben at her side, there to suggest the giant, blonde puppet perched on a float in the Founders Day Parade could easily represent model Kate Upton and not just his wife. Her short tenure in government has had its share of trials (she kept getting Jammed, after all), and now she has to remind her beloved city why they should not only care about keeping her but care about bettering themselves. It won’t be easy — “This town is going to hell in a Gucci knockoff handbag, girl!” But “Parks” needs a few more complications added to the mix. It’ll probably play out just like a dance movie, and hopefully one starring Brandi Maxxxx (she had a small part in Argo) and featuring the kind of plot concocted by Patton Oswalt’s Garth Blunden.
And finally, the big reveal of the night was a present for Mr. Swanson himself: It appears his girlfriend, Diane (Lucy Lawless), may be the one who’s knocked up. Seeing Ron as a new dad (in addition to his caring for Diane’s girls) would be a treat, watching as he sprinkles the baby’s formula with bacon bits and teaches whittling before walking ones. Maybe they will have a little Ronda, continuing the tradition of Ron being surrounded by women in life. I hope, though, it’s a Ron. I imagine he’ll come out with a fully-grown mustache. Better yet: twins. Hell — triplets! The more Swansons, the merrier.
Sarah Carlson is a TV Critic for Pajiba. She lives in San Antonio. You can find her on Twitter.