'Parks & Rec' Offers Changes, But Keeps Winning Formula
Season Four of NBC's Parks and Recreation ended with Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) asking residents of Pawnee to get out a map. “A crisp new one that shows where we might go. Let’s embark on a new journey together and see where it takes us,” she said. Indeed, many of the characters have taken new routes in their own lives. But as the season 5 premiere showed us, while some things may change, others remain the same — and that's not a bad thing.
The episode begins with Leslie and Andy (Chris Pratt) in Washington D.C., where Leslie, now a city council member, is in town looking to score federal funding to clean up the Pawnee River. The trip also allows her to meet up with her boyfriend Ben (Adam Scott), who is running a congressional campaign. We quickly learn that April (Aubrey Plaza) has been hired by Ben as an intern and is also in our nation’s capital. The episode deals with Leslie struggling to come to terms with her own role in government and also with her long distance relationship with Ben — a tug of war that climaxes during a high-power Washington party with important figures that provide a great mix of comedy and drama.
Meanwhile, back in Pawnee, Ron (Nick Offerman) has announced that he — and not Leslie — will be running the barbecue to thank the department’s employees. Ron decides that there will be none of the festivities that Leslie, the department and their families typically enjoy, and will focus instead on “good shared meat.” Of course, the barbecue is a total disaster and everyone is upset, which concludes with Chris (Rob Lowe) telling Ron that he must lead the department and think of everyone, not just himself.
Ann (Rashida Jones) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) are still trying to keep up the appearance that they are a couple, with disastrous results for Ann’s clothes and Tom’s skin. They ultimately decide to “break up.” However, I don’t think this is the last we will see of them.
All in all, Season Five will present new challenges for Leslie and her friends, and seems intent on charting a new course — but here’s to hoping that all roads lead back to Pawnee.