Tonight, it’s time for a Swanson swan song. Even though Parks and Recreation re-entered our lives just a few months ago, we must already say goodbye as the NBC comedy ends its superb third season with a two-part, one-hour finale (10-11 p.m ET). What kind of surprises await these Pawnee government employees in the final hour? We asked series co-creator/exec producer Mike Schur to give EW.com 10 hints about tonight’s action, which involves romance, death, and a threat to Ron’s mustache. “These characters make huge, life-changing decisions in the last seven minutes of the hour,” says Schur. “There’s an out-of-nowhere curveball for Leslie in the last scene, so I urge everyone to stay tuned to the end. It’s like The Usual Suspects. You have to watch until the very end.” Herewith, 10 teases to prep you for the Parks season finale.
1. “The whole hour for Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) is about the fact that they can’t let anyone find out they’re secretly dating because they could get in trouble with their boss, Chris (Rob Lowe). In part 1, Leslie is trying to preserve what she calls ‘the bubble,’ which is this beautiful, no-one-else-matters feeling that you have when you first start dating someone. That blows up in her face when someone very important to her gets involved in her relationship in a way that’s completely unexpected. In part 2, they start slipping up and making crucial mistakes in their secret dating and there’s a chain reaction. One person finds out about it, then another person, and the scrambling to cover up their tracks leaves all sorts of giant disasters…. My favorite scene is in part 2: Leslie and Ben have a secret hiding place they go to canoodle, and Leslie gets all dolled up and goes there to meet Ben. She’s got on a pretty dress and her hair’s up and she walks into the office and Ben is not there, but somebody else is. The scene that unfolds is my favorite Leslie Knope moment of the whole year. The other person who is there almost doesn’t say a word for the entire scene, but still makes you laugh 50 times.”
2. “This whole season has been about Tom (Aziz Ansari) trying to further his entrepreneurial dreams. In the first part, he’s made to do a really menial job that bums him out because he feels like, ‘What the hell? I’m not supposed to be doing this!’ And he starts to reconsider his life and his future. In part 2, Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) comes to him with a huge opportunity that’s not a pie-in-the-sky, ‘I’m going invent an alcohol’ crazy thing — it’s a tangible business opportunity. And he tries to figure out whether he wants to make the leap and quit his job and move on to a new career…. There’s an excellent scene where Tom and Jean-Ralphio are choosing a color for a memorial ribbon. Jerry looks at the ribbons and thinks they’re all black, and Tom and Jean-Ralphio laugh really hard and proceed to tell him exactly what shade of black each of the ribbons is: ‘If you’re in the know in the fashion world, you know that’s not black, that’s obsidian. That’s not black, that’s onyx.’ And there’s, like, nine of them.”
3. “Ann (Rashida Jones) is now fully moved in and working at City Hall. Her story is the natural full circle from the beginning of the season, when she got so swept up by Chris and had her heart broken by him twice, [to] her once and for all feeling like she’s gotten over what happened, and that she’s a more mature person.”
4. “Chris has this big plan to tinker with the dynamics of the Parks Department and make things run more smoothly. He ends up completely running afoul of everyone in the office because of the way that he changes things around. He sits in the middle of this fancy, circular desk that he’s gotten for Ron and shows him how it will help him be more efficient…. In part 2, he has to visit the doctor for a health situation. It’s not at all serious, but because he’s such a finely tuned machine and has that [blood disorder] history, he has a psychological collapse when even the tiniest thing goes wrong with his body. He keeps asking Ann for medical advice and we see him keep breaking down. Eventually they have a scene where their stories collide and move off into an interesting direction.”
5. “Ron (Nick Offerman) clashes with Chris over the new office reorganization in the first part. In part 2, Tammy (Megan Mullally) comes back and they have some typically delightful scenes, but there’s a shocking twist at the end with the two of them. We’re introduced to the one thing in the world that scares Tammy. [Also, in part 2], the passing of a particular cast member affects Ron on a deep, fundamental level. And the chain reaction that Leslie and Ben set off in trying to protect their secret culminates in a particularly horrible and embarrassing moment for Ron. It’s so horrible that it actually puts his mustache in jeopardy.”
6. “Andy (Chris Pratt) is with Tom, working at this menial job, but to Andy this menial job is the most fun thing he’s ever done because he’s got a title — he’s an administrative assistant and he’s just thrilled — and he gets to wear a name tag. He’s the yin to Tom’s yang because Tom is miserable. In part 2, there’s a memorial service for a dearly departed cast member, and Andy is commissioned to write a ‘Candle in the Wind’- type song, which he performs. It’s a really catchy and moving rock song…. After the success of the performance, Andy makes a big decision about the future of the band.”
7. “In the first part, April (Aubrey Plaza) is one of the very unhappy people because of what Chris has done to tinker with the office. In the second part, she helps to guide Andy in his big moment and gives him advice on how to make a good song.”
8. “Jerry (Jim O’Heir) has a wonderful and sweet idea for how to contribute to the memorial service that is completely blown up by Leslie and Ben’s shenanigans. So once again, he is thwarted in his desire to have an honest human moment. “
9. “We’ll find out that Donna (Retta Sirleaf) is maybe the only person in the world that can talk to Ron in the way that she talks to him. She dares to speak sternly to Ron Swanson — and it works. [And later] she tries to speak a language she doesn’t actually speak.
10. “The tag of the show — the part that comes after the final commercial break — is maybe the craziest thing that’s ever been on our series. It includes a 15,000-square foot all-white room, a lot of crazy-looking furniture, and a semi-famous former NBA player. I’m not confirming or denying, but it’s possible that it’s Detlef Schrempf. And every time I’d watch it in the edit bay, I’d have this weird crisis: ‘Is this okay? Is it okay that this scene is how we’re ending this entire season?’ It’s truly nuts. It’s like a hallucinogenic nightmare.”
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