The last ever episode of Parks And Recreation aired on NBC last night (February 24) – and it was a near-perfect series finale. Titled ‘One Last Ride’, the double-length episode followed Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope as she rallied the old Pawnee parks department team for one last mission – namely, fixing a broken swing at a kids’ playground – but this was really just a conceit to bring the whole gang together. Once it had reunited Leslie, Ron, Tom, April, Andy, Donna and yes, even “Garry”, the episode spiralled off into a series of flash-forwards showing what becomes of each character in the future.
I don’t want to give too much away, but these flash-forwards feature a wedding, a birth and two funerals. The phrase “teach yo’ self” is used. There’s a cameo from a major US political figure. But most importantly, each character is given a sympathetic and fitting ending featuring plenty of interactions with their old friends from Pawnee – there are some especially touching exchanges between Leslie and Nick Offerman’s Ron, whose unlikely friendship has been the beating heart of Parks‘ seventh and final season. There are also appearances from several old favourites including tautology-spewing newscaster Perd Hapley and massive douchebag Jean-Ralphio, though sadly the writers manage to resist bringing Pawnee’s famous miniature horse Li’l Sebastian back from the dead.
At times, ‘One Last Ride’ is shamelessly sentimental, but Parks And Recreation has always been able to get away with a bit of schmaltz because it’s such a fundamentally loveable show. Even if an individual episode wasn’t the funniest or a particular scene didn’t quite work, it’s always been a pleasure to spend time with these characters. That’s why I’m not ashamed to admit that saying goodbye last night was kind of emotional.