Parks and Recreation 6.21 “Moving Up” Review: Focused on the Future

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Well, that was pretty perfect, wasn’t it?

The main reason why this Parks and Recreation review is being posted so late is because I’ve been finding it hard to come up with the words to describe this finale besides simply “perfect.” “Moving Up” was everything I love about Parks and Recreation rolled up into one hour long episode and with its final scene, it gave me what I’ve been clamoring for all season long from Parks and Rec: change. And not just a little change. We’re talking about a huge, substantial, “three years into the future” kind of change. But before we get to that ending, let’s talk about how great the rest of “Moving Up” was, as this season’s biggest storylines (Leslie’s decision about the National Parks job, the Pawnee Unity Concert, and the opening of Tom’s restaurant) all culminated in spectacular fashion.

Leslie’s storyline was the centerpiece of this two-part finale, as she, Ben, and Andy traveled to San Francisco in the first half an hour and we got to see her geek out over meeting her favorite government celebrities (including First Lady Michelle Obama) and become more persuaded to take the new position in Chicago. Ultimately, however, it wasn’t the First Lady that convinced Leslie to take the job, but Ben in one of the episode’s best scenes. The entire sequence, from Ben geeking out about being in the woods George Lucas used for Endor to his impassioned speech to Leslie about how this job would give her the opportunity to help more people, was so lovely and so fitting of Leslie and Ben’s relationship. Leslie’s passion and willingness to make others’ lives better was what first attracted Ben to her, so it was truly great to see him remind her of that admirable quality.

After Leslie’s decision was made, the second part of “Moving Up” focused on the Unity Concert and Leslie’s futile attempts to convince people to move to Chicago and work with her. The entire half an hour was a celebration of everything that makes Parks and Recreation great, as Leslie succeeded in getting the citizens of Pawnee and Eagleton to finally approve of the merger, Tom’s restaurant was a hit on its first night, and Ron Swanson got on stage with Andy and Mouserat as they performed “Bye Bye Lil’ Sebastian” and publicly played his jazzy saxophone as Duke Silver. The celebration was all the best parts of Pawnee put together and was ultimately enough (along with some words of wisdom from Ron) to give Leslie the brilliant idea to pitch and actually convince the National Parks Department that Pawnee City Hall’s wide and newly refurbished third floor (all thanks to Ron) was the best place for Leslie and her team to work, allowing Leslie to have her dream job and not have to say goodbye to the people that she loves.

All of these things put together had the makings of a great series finale for Parks and Recreation. But as we know, the series was renewed for season seven by NBC, so my main question as we headed into the final minutes of the episode was what the heck is the Parks and Recreation team going to do now? How will the writers rejuvenate a show that feels so complete and so final? The answer apparently: jump ahead three years into the future. And I could not be any more excited.

As I’ve lamented in recent weeks, Parks and Recreation has been showing signs of its age and been repeating the same patterns as certain character remain at a standstill. I couldn’t think of a better way to shake up the status quo than jumping ahead in time, having Leslie now fully in swing with her job with the National Parks Department, her and Ben’s children now being toddlers, and Garry Jerry Larry now being called Terry.

For the first time in a long time, I have no idea what Parks and Recreation is going to look like next season, what directions it will explore, or what challenges or opportunities our favorite characters will face. The series has reclaimed the sense of excitement and surprise that it possessed in its earlier seasons, and as we enter into season seven, most likely Parks and Recreation’s final year, it doesn’t feel like a series that has been on the air for six years. No, instead, it feels like a whole new show, and that’s more than enough to makes me giggle and smile with excitement like Ron Swanson does when he’s near “fried sausage quilts.”

Other thoughts:

– Jon Hamm’s surprise cameo was a true highlight of the episode. Is there anyway that we can get more of him working for Leslie shown in flashbacks?

– What was better: the Lil’ Sebastian hologram or the still puzzled look on Ben’s face as to why Pawnee loves the tiny horse so much?

– Andy thinks that Michael Bay made Alcatraz for The Rock. He can also recite every line of the movie.

– Loved everything about Donna and her conversation with Ginuwine. “Why you gotta bring the Quackson Five into this?”

– I audibly cheered when Ron appeared on stage as Duke Silver. I really didn’t think that Parks and Rec was going to have him do it, but I’m so happy they did.

– Just yes to everything about Ben and the Cones of Dunshire in this episode. I seriously want to play that game.

– “This truly is an amazing town. I ordered a small cheeseburger and the buns were slices of pizza.”

– “My chairs take time. Who do you think I am? Thomas Hucker.” Ron Swanson’s obscure references and fantastic laughing will never not entertain me.

– “Also, can you bring back Power Rangers? I don’t know what it is you do, but you seem important enough to get that done.”

– Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on these reviews all season long. It’s been an absolute pleasure writing about Parks and Rec, and I hope I’m back to do again this fall.

What did everyone else think of the Parks and Recreation season finale? Did you like the time jump decision and are you excited for next season?

[Photo via Screengrab/NBC]

Chris is a graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and Film. He has been writing for TVOvermind for two years and has written about several different television shows, such as New Girl, Breaking Bad, Glee, and Homeland. Along with writing for TVOvermind, Chris also writes for two of our sister sites, Uncoached and Worthly. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13).
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