Last night’s episode of Parks and Recreation had the difficult task of saying goodbye to Ann and Chris, and much like last week’s Community, which bid farewell to Troy, the series did so with a great combination of laughs and tears, equal parts hilarious gags and heartfelt moments. While neither Ann nor Chris has ever been one of my favorite Parks and Recreation characters, the show did a great job at making me feel sad about their departure and also made me realize the great importance that both Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe had in making this series so special.
The reason why “Ann And Chris” works so well, as both a touching goodbye to two characters we’ve gotten to know for a few seasons and as a comedic sitcom episode, is because it never falters and falls into the sentimental. No, instead, the Parks and Recreation writers keep each character consistent and correct, giving everyone from Tom to Ron to Donna and even April a chance to say a goodbye to both Ann and Chris that feels equal parts funny and fitting. (My two favorite goodbye scenes had to be Donna and April’s to Chris and April’s touching, sweet, and muttered “I love you, too” farewell to Ann.)
By making “Ann And Chris” essentially an episode filled with heartfelt conversations and funny interactions (plus a couple quick flashbacks to the series pilot), the Parks and Rec team illustrates how far all these characters have come in an almost more impressive way than they did back in the 100th episode a few weeks ago. And perhaps the clearest way that Parks and Recreation acknowledges how much things have changed is in Leslie’s quest to break ground at the Pawnee’s Commons site, finally fulfilling the promise which she made to Ann that initially spawned the pair’s incredible friendship.
While the two of them jump through several hoops in order to finally get the permission to enter the restricted gates of Pawnee Commons (hoops that begin with Sweetums and end with a shocking and hysterical discovery that Ann and Perd once had a thing together), Leslie and Ann no longer need this park to be completed in order to be friends. What started out as a project that they spearheaded together turned into a relationship of love and compassion, even when they each were at their most eccentric points.
Ann and Leslie’s friendship is more powerful and stronger than any physical symbol could represent. As cheesy as it sounds (and I’m completely aware of how corn-bally I’m being right here), the metaphorical park that Leslie and Ann actually constructed was the friendship that they have shared and will continue to do so. To them (and to us viewers), that’s better than any Pawnee Commons, and that’s what makes a Parks and Recreation episode like “Ann And Chris” so darn amazing.
- I don’t want to forget the other most important friendship in this episode, Leslie and Ann’s male counterparts, Ben and Chris. Ben’s idea to have Ron build Chris a “buddy box” for his soon-to-be born son was a touching final gesture, and Chris’s “You are LITERALLY the best friend I will ever have” line had me laughing and crying at the same time.
- So happy that Andy and Ann had one final scene together, too, and how Ann told April that she was happy that her and Andy had found each other.
- I laughed so hard at Chris wearing the JFK mask, a clear shout out to Rob Lowe’s work in Killing Kennedy.
- “I also shook his hand. Twice. Anything more than that would be excessive.” “Salt water will warp the wood. So keep your tears in your eyes where they belong.” Ron Swanson, as always, was pure perfection this episode.
- The acting from Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones in Leslie and Ann’s final scenes together was nothing short of fantastic. The shot of them together on the giant mess of ground that will soon be the Pawnee Commons was a great visual way of illustrating just how far their friendship has come, and their simple “I love you”/”I love you, too” exchange right before Chris and Ann drove away had me tearing up.
- “There has never been a sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food.” Wise words from Ron Swanson, and we will see just how Leslie and Parks and Recreation itself will fare with the loss of Ann and Chris after the Winter Olympics. Personally, I think everyone’s going to be just fine.
What did everyone else think of last night’s Parks and Recreation? Did you think it was a fitting farewell to Ann and Chris’s characters?
[Photo via Ben Cohen/NBC]