Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Adios, Ann. Later, Traeger. A pregnant nurse/beautiful tropical fish and an impossibly cheery city manager are packing up and leaving Pawnee to begin their new life together in Ann Arbor. Tonight’s episode of Parks and Recreation, which airs at 8:30 p.m. on NBC, will serve as the goodbye gala for Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), and you can only imagine how Leslie (Amy Poehler) will handle the parting of ways with her best friend. (To do less imagining and more receiving of actual hints from executive producer Michael Schur, click here with your tear-stained mouse.)

How does Poehler feel about the send-off installment? “What I love so much about that episode is what I feel I’m most proud about with Parks: It’s really funny and goofy, and then it’s really sweet and earned, and we get to act in it like actors instead of weird joke machines,” she tells EW. “It involves all the things I liked about all the shows growing up, like those moments on Cheers — not to compare us to Cheers — where you’re laughing and laughing and then you really care. That’s what I loved about Steve Carell’s performance on The Office — you were never quite sure when you were going to care and it felt good when you did. And satisfying. This episode is really satisfying and it’s really sad, but really funny. And it’s given us a great arc to write — Leslie’s not able to deal with Ann leaving and how she’s struggling against it — all that stuff is really funny and fun to play.”

She doesn’t view the departure of her longtime co-stars as a permanent goodbye, though. “Nobody is ever really going to leave Pawnee — we’ll never let them leave,” she quips. “We just brought back a [small character] from season 1: ‘We need that guy who played the thing…’ Everybody still exists, all the time… Rob and Rashida are off doing big, great things, and I live a block away from Rashida, so she’ll never escape me.”

Episode Recaps

Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. on NBC Stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari What to expect: Leslie (Poehler) heads to…

Parks and Recreation

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