Parks and Recreation Review: Team Knope or Team Swanson?

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Well it's finally back, and man, is it bittersweet. 

Parks and Recreation Season 7 Episode 1 and Parks and Recreation Season 7 Episode 2 introduce a lot of new scenarios under familiar pretenses, as the show heads into its seventh, and final season. 

When we last left off on Parks and Recreation Season 6, a whole lot of monumental events occurred: there were triplets born, jobs accepted, and, oh yeah, a three year time jump. 

However, if the show had concluded on that note, it would've been difficult to fault the Parks & Rec folk for their choice. It would've been a fitting, and somewhat inventive and exciting conclusion, to a show that was pretty freakin' awesome for the most part. 

But now the show's back for a final, seemingly rushed (two episodes a night vs one), conclusion. Whether or not it's "better than ever," still remains to be seen.

The first two episodes of Parks and Recreation Season 7 were light on any truly gut-wrenchingly funny moments, but they both contained their fair share of golden moments, and a great deal in the form of exposition. 

A majority of characters stood almost as direct foils to their original selves at the start of the first episode. Sure, Leslie was still crazy, foolhardy, and relentless – but she was also a powerful presence that commanded numerous employees at her disposal. She didn't ask, or tiptoe around the point, or trick them into helping – she commanded, and they obliged. 

Even when the command was to get $90 million in 36 hours. 

You all have 36 hours to find me $90 million, go!

Leslie

Ron and Tom are, understandably, more or less the same.

Although a successful mogul in 2017 (yes, they're a year ahead of us, with Gryzzle pads and Jason Borne comedies, and Kevin James reboots of Jason Borne comedies), Tom is still selfish, petty and insecure. Although he's still hilarious, loveable, and a good friend at heart.

His shared hysterically sobbing scene with Ben was great on both their parts. I wish him luck in chasing the girl of yet a different dream.

But hey, at least he's humble.

I'm awesome at being humble.

Tom

Ron on the other hand, despite having softened up over the years, is as resolute as ever in his beliefs surrounding carnivorous capitalism, and this puts him head to head with Leslie for one last showdown. I don't know how long the face-off will last, seeing as it already took a short truce in the second episode, but it's definitely a serviceable premise to get the gang back together – yet still apart. 

Team Knope or Team Swanson guys?

I'm perfectly civil! He's the stupid garbage-head doodoo-face!

Leslie

 I'll make the shirts.

Ron: Hello Knope.
Leslie: Hello former strange person I used to friend. You're looking very Ron-like.
Ron: You have your same hair.
Leslie: No! I don't! I have bangs now!
Ron: I've never known what bangs are and I don't intend to learn!

April and Andy have obviously made the biggest shift in dynamics. They used to work because they didn't. They were wild, unpredictable, dysfunctional, and perfect for each other. 

Now they're just perfect for each other.

April: I guess I could pick up a brisket tomorrow and start it for dinner Thursday.
Andy: Oh Thursday's no good - I have production meetings ALL day. And we have dinner with Joe and Donna on Friday. Hey, you know, Sunday. We could go to the farmer's market, put the brisket in the slow cooker, get a movie on payper view - the new Jason Borne movie is supposed to be pretty funny.
April: AHHH!!

It's understandable that April, and by extension, Andy, wouldn't be satisfied with normalcy, but it's also a bit predictable. April needs some sort of help transitioning into permanent adulthood – other than Andy showing off his wiener at award ceremonies. 

I'm gonna get naked, I'm gonna get up there, and everybody's gonna see my weiner! I mean, you've seen it, you know how dumb it looks!

Andy

I'm glad Ben's reached out, and my heart's even more warmed that April actually reciprocated his, almost fatherly, love with a rare hug. She could've, and usually would've, just ended with:

Ben: You're my friend.
April: No I'm not, I've never cared for you.

She has a great partner in Andy, who hasn't turned out too shabby himself. Noticeably a whole lot smarter, and mature, Andy still somehow turns out to be the goofy dope we're used. His foolishness ranges from hilarious, and harmless, to oddly caring and sweet. From calling Chicago the "Big Apple," and "Beantown," to stripping naked at Ben's award ceremony, or buying this house for April:

12 closets, 3 bomb shelters, 5 dumbwaiters, 2 3/8ths bath, no kitchens. Fairly standard layout.

Andy

Even the way he covered for Tom when they went to meet Lucy was genius, but then he topped it off with this exchange:

Andy: Head coach of the Chicago Bulls.
Tom: No he's uhh, we're with a non profit -
Andy: What!? No! Am I? That sucks.

You win some and you loose some, but you live to take a drunken $830 cab ride another day.

Although Leslie and Ron were able to form a truce and help out poor old, often misguided, Councilman Jeremy Jamm, in the second episode, the votes for the property are now tied, and the games are still on. 

And Ron and Leslie are still on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Leslie: Ron, I just want you to know that I am not sorry for pushing your face into a cake.
Ron: Well I am sorry - for attending a public event.

Leslie with her almost relentless, liberal, attitude, and Ron with his equally staunch, conservative, mantras.

It works great symbolically, having this issue be the vehicle through which each character can fully embrace his or her archetype, but I'm afraid I can predict how it might end: with Ron compromising his beliefs, or learning from the experience, enough to let Leslie have her dream.

Jessica: Is this a circle? Or is it an "O?" Is Oprah involved!?
Leslie: It's zero. I bid zero dollars.

Because, in the end, Leslie was the one that first turned that dump of a field into a park, and now she's continuing to fight to better Pawnee and put her town on the map. Ron wants his morals, ethics, and, well, pure cold-blooded capitalism to always win. 

But sometimes (well, most of the times) your emotions takeover. And I'm sure even Ron Swanson's got some compassion left in his tin heart, especially for Leslie.  

As I mentioned, there were plenty of great moments throughout the episode – too many to even touch on all at once. The Jon Hamm (second) cameo, the way Leslie conditioned Jeremy to associate Tammy 2's perfume with a literal bitch-slap to the face, the name of Ron's new business ("Very Good: Building & Development Co.") – all personal favorite moments of mine.

The first episode may have been stronger than the second, since a Tammy-centric episode isn't as engaging as an actual premiere episode. However, as a whole, the hour was definitely a strong start to the final season. 

Watch Parks and Recreation online to catch anything you may have missed (callbacks to previous seasons, running gags, etc.), and head over to Parks and Recreation Quotes  to relive any favorite segments I may have overlooked. Leave your comments down below, and lets hope for a fitting farewell to a great series!

Hey, if anything, even The Office got it right by the very end after a many missteps, so I have nothing but hope for Parks & Rec.

2017 Review

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Parks and Recreation Season 7 Episode 1 Quotes

I'm perfectly civil! He's the stupid garbage-head doodoo-face!

Leslie

I could retire! But I wouldn't - I'm going to work until I'm a 100. Then I'll cut back to four days a week.

Leslie