By Marc Snetiker
Updated May 10, 2012 at 10:55 PM EDT
Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC
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Tonight brings an end to the storied city council campaign of Leslie Knope, whose troubled election path has seen funeral-crashing bus tours, awkward pie-centric assassination attempts, bowling alley brawls and a pair of pitch-perfect competitors in guest stars Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn. Still, we’ll find out tonight whether Leslie manages to beat the odds and land a spot on the Pawnee city council… but then what happens?

Sure, we all want to see Leslie emerge victorious (because when Leslie is sad, the sun burns out and all the world’s puppies turn into monkfish). But if “Knope We Can” can in fact conquer–and Leslie winds up with a victory–what would that mean for season five? I’ve got a few theories on the election outcome:

Leslie wins and keeps her Parks department job: Depending on how high up in the government we’re talking, keeping one’s previous position can be realistically feasible . Exec producer Mike Schur has said that the low-key city council position doesn’t necessarily preclude Leslie from keeping her post in the Parks department. That means season five will keep the same wacky Parks plots we’ve come to love but open a new realm of potential storylines that derive from Leslie’s new position of power.

Leslie wins, but declines the position: Effectively erasing the entire season’s events, there’s potential that Leslie could in fact win the race, but decline to accept the city council position if it means that she has to ditch the Parks department. The show is called Parks & Recreation after all, not The Adventures of Councilwoman Knope and A Physically Separate Bureaucratic Department.

Leslie and Bobby tie: The episode is titled “Win, Lose or Draw,” which begs the question: could there possibly be a stalemate between Leslie and Bobby?

Bobby wins, but declines: It’s become abundantly clear that Leslie’s opponent Bobby Newport, the well-meaning Tigger to Leslie’s ebullient Winnie, has no real inclination to actually do his job, much less accept the councilman position if he wins. Here’s hedging my bet that Rudd wins the popular vote, but steps down, leaving two possible scenarios: Leslie taking the job, despite coming in second place, or more characteristically, Leslie refusing to accept the position that she didn’t fully deserve (and in that case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Brandi Maxxxx was sworn in and recurred next season at hilarious intervals).

Leslie loses, period: Somehow, the outcome in which Leslie purely loses and returns to the Pawnee status quo just doesn’t seem likely. At the very least, I don’t think it’d be overly hopeful to say that we can expect at least one wrench in the grand plan.

In a surprise upset, Jean-Ralphio wins as a write-in candidate: Hey, weirder things have happened, right? Daaaaaaamn!

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