Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you haven’t watched Tuesday’s series finale episode, “One Last Ride.”
In keeping with the indomitable spirit of Leslie Knope, the series finale of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” looked optimistically ahead, with the occasional glance at the present.
The department of, well, Parks and Recreation decided to undertake one last project before disbanding: fixing a broken swing. As they endeavored to fill out paperwork and hurdle sitcom obstacles, there were sweet and far-reaching glimpses into the future of the characters.
Think HBO’s “Six Feet Under” finale without the sobbing, Sia and wrenching truth of the human condition. Plus a lot more cracker jack “The Future Is Here!” props like hologram-projecting tablets and sleek tourist submarines. A [Spoiler!!] taste at where the gang ends up:
Retta’s Donna becomes a real estate mogul wed to Keegan-Michael Key (“Key and Peele”), keeps it sexy and still hangs with Aubrey Plaza‘s April.
Speaking of April, she and Andy (Chris Pratt) take their time in deciding on starting a family, only to have their firstborn in the most April of fashions: on Halloween, her in full zombie makeup, as “Monster Mash” plays.
Gary “Jerry” Gergich (Jim O’Heir) continues his streak as Pawnee’s mayor, living to the age of 100 in bliss with his wife, guest star Christie Brinkley. Aziz Ansari’s Tom pens “Failure: An American Success Story,” and mounts a major comeback after going broke on an expansion of his restaurant, “Tom’s Bistro.”
Man among men Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) raises his stepkids under the gaze of his guest star wife Lucy Lawless, buys a 51 percent ownership stake in a whiskey distillery and assumes control of the national park adjacent to Pawnee.
And as for Knope (the aforementioned, indomitable Amy Poehler), her path to glory was inevitable, but no less rewarding: stepping away from the present as wife of Congressman Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), Leslie gets a shot from the Democratic National Committee to run for governor of her home state Indiana. She wins two terms.
“We get to work hard at work worth doing, alongside those we love,” Knope says, receiving an honorary degree from Indiana State. That sentiment resonates far beyond the scripted moment, and anchors the series, funny as it may be, in its good intentions.
Particularly Pawnee moments from the finale:
– “Don’t be a stranger,” Leslie says, grabbing Ron’s hand as the two sit on park swings. Tear-jerk-alert!
– “Technically, I kicked them out.” — Donna, when Leslie notes she was kicked out of R&B group “En Vogue.”
– “I’m Sandra D … O’Connor.” — Leslie, donning a cheerleader costume with a judges robe for a “Grease”/ Supreme Court judge mashup.
– April is listed in Donna’s phone contacts as “Satan’s Niece.”
– Bill Eichner’s character Craig sings a torch song at Tom’s Bistro, and Eichner actually has some decent pipes.
– Chris and Ann return! Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones appeared briefly with a gaggle of gorgeous, strapping kids. Ann, longtime a nemesis of April, got one last ribbing from Plaza. “Your kids are surprisingly awesome, did you use an egg donor? Did you give Chris a hall pass?”April deadpans.