Everyone in Pawnee is moving on: new jobs, new cities, new relationships, new adventures. Donna and Joe just closed on a house in Seattle. Garry is finally retiring, not that anyone cares. Not even longtime Pawnee mayor Walter Gunderson is exempt from this wave of change; he, too, is on to the next one, except that he was super old, and his "next one" is death. Now the passing of a man is a serious, somber, sad occasion. A funeral is a time to peacefully reflect, to consider what it means to live an—
SWEET LORD OF CELEBRITY CAMEOS, IT’S BILL FREAKING MURRAY.
His body will lie in state in the City Council chambers for a day — as Ben points out, this is “a real cool thing for a public space.” Gunderson left behind a farewell video, in which he basically reveals that he wasn’t paying attention for most of the time that he was in office (given what we’ve seen of Pawnee’s government, this is not particularly shocking news) but that it didn’t really matter, as most citizens weren’t paying attention, either.
Leslie, reacts to this with a sort of narcissistic impulse, but she uses it generously, so I’ll allow it: There are too many endings all around her, and she needs a beginning to hold on to. Much like a duckling can imprint on the first living being it sees and thus believe a strange human is its mother, so, too, does Leslie throw her “time for a beginning” energy at the first person she sees after the thought crosses her mind. The lucky recipient of Leslie’s boundless enthusiasm: Tom Haverford, just back from New York with presents for everyone else — no, that’s a lie, all of these presents are for him.
He and Lucy are getting serious; they even looked at rings on their trip. (“Shia LaBeouf is one hell of a jewelry designer.” Shia again!) I don’t want to dwell on this, sad as I am to see Parks go and loath as I am to be judgmental of any sweet thing in this world, but really? They’ve been dating for, like, 30 seconds. Lucy just broke up with her boyfriend. They’re both really young. Are we supposed to believe it makes any sense at all for them to get engaged? Why does the Parks version of “tying up loose ends” and “giving everyone a happy ending” have to translate into “everyone winds up in a married or about-to-be-married couple when the final credits roll”?
Meanwhile, it’s time to bid farewell to Walter Gunderson (Bill Murray still looking like a rock star, beatific smile on his face). And look, it’s Ethel Beavers! “I’ll be brief. Walter Gunderson and his wife had an open marriage. It kept him happy, it kept his wife happy — hi, Evelyn — and it definitely kept me happy.” Leslie’s “Whaaaaaat?” at this moment is too good. “He spent night after night exploring every nook and cranny of my body.” WOW, ETHEL. “I loved that man, and not just because he was a dynamite lay.” A moment of appreciation for April’s facial expression, please. Pause those DVRs. Savor her disgust. “Good night, you animal.”
That’s it, end of the episode, end of the series, end of everything, nothing could top that. Bye, everybody! It’s been real.
But no, there’s more: Ron’s beloved barber, Salvatore, is also dead. Wow. All good things, you guys. (More on this in a minute.)
Leslie is going to help Tom propose to Lucy using “a multiplatform media experience.” This is the perfect marriage — proposal pun! — of over-the-top people. Leslie is already on the phone, barking at someone: “Listen, if you can’t train 200 white doves in the next 24 hours to spell out ‘Lucy, will you marry me?’ you have no business calling yourself a pet store.” As Tom puts it, “Why can’t everyone share our commitment to outrageous pageantry?” Fortunately, the two have a (reluctant) ally in Ian, who runs the banner store where Leslie has spent nearly $100,000 over the years. (Yup, that figure sounds about right.)
They shoot this wild action sequence in a jewelry store, where the only thing crazier than Leslie’s accent and elaborate backstory for her character (who has a single line) is the fight scene, complete with a stunt double, that closes out the sequence. And look, it’s Jean-Ralphio! And a smoke machine!
When it’s time to pick Lucy up at the airport, Tom pays Leslie the ultimate compliment: She’s pretty cool. “I’m cool! I’m a cool dudette! Hey, it’s pizza time!”
But then he sees Lucy, cancels everything, and sends Leslie on yet another mission. They meet up again at the Snakehole Lounge, where Tom has a cute stack of pancakes, a daisy, and a pack of cards — all of which are reminders of the night he and Lucy met.
Ben has a mission of his own: He needs to find someone to serve as interim mayor, a mostly ceremonial position that just has to be held by a resident over the age of 30 who won’t be a complete basket case. What is the purpose of plot point, you ask? To give us a parade of our favorite Pawnee wackadoos, of course! No complaints here. Cameos include clueless rich kid Bobby Newport (April introduces herself as Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon; Bobby replies, “Nice try, that’s the guy from Toy Story”); Joan, who April thinks ought to be president of the universe but who begs off because she claims to be only 27 years old; Dr. Saperstein, who is too busy failing to wrangle his horrible children; Mona-Lisa Saperstein, who starts a fire in her dad’s car because “you took too long and I got bored”; and the Douche, of “Crazy Ira and the Douche” fame, who wants to do great things for the city of Pawnee ... and gross things with City Hall interns.
Finally, April tells Ben that, even though “I despise you and I want you and all people on Earth to be miserable,” he should be the mayor, to erase Ice Town from his permanent record of shame. Just as Garry is ready for the notary fireworks to begin, though, Ben backs out: He’s grateful for Ice Town because it got him to where he is today, blah blah whatever, and the new mayor of Pawnee is … GARRY!!
With Donna's help, Ron struggles to get over the very difficult loss of Salvatore, a man Ron saw the first Tuesday of every month for four decades for his eight-dollar haircut and non-conversation. Donna hooks Ron up with Typhoon, who is writing an electronic opera about Brittany Murphy. “All I want to do is dance, but lately all the good warehouses are filled with Eurotrash.” Ron giggles — are any giggles in this world as delightful as Ron Swanson giggles? I think not — and loves the word Eurotrash. “It is, indeed, a garbage continent. Please talk more about how you hate Europe and bicycles.”
The elaborate proposal party Leslie and Tom somehow planned for Tom and Lucy gets turned into an inauguration party for Garry. A choir is singing “All My Life” and fireworks are going off in the sky and there’s a hot-air balloon and a red carpet and one of those thrones people pick up and carry around for you, and I can’t believe we are at a place in Parks’ farewell lap that I am feeling this magnitude of feelings for Garry, of all people. I never thought it would come to this.
Oh boy, friends: 123 episodes down, only one to go.
And a few other things …
- I think it’s so sweet how Ben tells everyone that Leslie is about to make a really boring announcement but it’s a big deal so act excited, and then they really do! Honestly, Parks is friend porn. Everyone is at peak thoughtfulness about all of their loved ones at all times.
- Donna, planning for the future: “Before I die, I’m freezing my head like Ted Williams. Wait 1,000 years, thaw it out, slap it on a robot, keep on rolling.”
- Ron, at Salvatore’s funeral: “The three most important people in a man’s life are his barber, his butcher, and his lover. I have lost one of those. Here’s a tenner, Sal. As you know, I don’t believe in tipping, so I will collect my change from your wife.”
- It’s the return of Other Ron! I would have preferred to see Tynyffer again, but what can you do. Worth it for Other Ron’s explanation of why he never gets haircuts: “Whenever my hair feels it has completed its journey, it simply sheds itself off.”
- Proposing makes girls horny — that’s why Jean-Ralphio does it alllll the time.
- Jean-Ralphio, to Leslie: “How married are you? You down to clown?”
- “Look, if you didn’t want to be on call 24/7 for emergencies, then you should not have gone into the high-stakes world of banner-making.”