Parks and Recreation: The one with the goat cheese statue

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In five years, we’ve come to know Leslie Knope the politician as an unrelenting bright spot of an otherwise sour town, but Pawneeans are pushing to recall Leslie from public office and she’s becoming vulnerable, even though Ron basically tells her people are wackjobs for wanting her out.

Her emotions comes to a head when she accepts an award from the International Coalition of Women in Government in London, yes, London(!!). Leslie, April, Ron, Andy and Ben all go to London and up until the start of her speech at the awards banquet, Leslie can’t stop missing her hometown. She loves her hometown, so much.

She unravels during the speech, calling out Pawnee for not appreciating her, and of course Jerry is back home live streaming it to a whole bunch of people! We’ve seen Jerry do plenty of stupid things, but haven’t seen Leslie break down the way she did. For goodness sake this is Leslie Knope we’re talking about, the same woman who shows up to speeches hungover or flu-ridden and addresses the media better than she maybe could’ve sober or unmedicated.

At least to start this sixth season, we understand this to be Leslie’s central conflict; although, we realize Ann leaving later on will make an impact more than just a blip on the radar. For now, though, it’s April (not Ann) to the rescue because April looks up to Leslie and loves Leslie — and we know that April doesn’t feel that way about a lot of people… or things… or places… or ideas.

Reading her letter of nomination to the ICWG (that organization talked about above) aloud in Leslie’s office is a touching moment that reveals what we already knew about April’s feelings, but that always reassures Leslie that she’s doing good things, even as many times as everyone else (especially Ron, in this episode) assure her. It was a great moment, but April also makes the best Garfield jokes I’ve ever heard earlier in the episode.

Leslie and April are getting a lot closer, too, especially while Ann is off being pregnant with Chris and especially since April is now Andy-less (WHAT THE HELL!?!).

Yeah, I know. Andy met a “Lord” in London that is basically his British personality twin and was invited to head a non-profit that he and Ben were pitching (the whole music thing). Andy’s staying in London for about three months (Chris Pratt is filming a movie) and of course April is supportive because they’re pretty much the most perfect couple ever. This reminds us: Andy was supportive toward April’s idea of going to veterinary school, which by the way where is that story line? Maybe wait and see.

Maybe we’ll get to see Andy during a Skype session with April or something, assuming he can figure out how Skype works.

Leslie losing her cool. Andy staying in London. Ann having a baby. Tom fighting a legal battle. Ron getting married in what was the fastest wedding ever (literally two minutes). These are all signs that things are going to be different this season. And that’s OK.

Nobody in Pawnee has ever let Leslie run about free and clear. They published a picture of her in London and spun it negatively, for example. But she’s always prevailed. There’s no reason to believe otherwise.

As a part of the bigger picture of this season premiere, we’re happy that our friends are back and that it appears Aubrey Plaza is coming into a bigger role aside Amy Poehler. We’re going to miss Andy, but not miss being bothered by how Chris Pratt lost all that weight, has blonde hair, and doesn’t look like that Andy from last season (or, actually, from the first minute of the premiere).

There were seeds planted in this episode that may grow. Ann and Chris’ baby announcement caused them more stress than enjoyment and Ann wants a little privacy. Leslie realized she’s too caught up in Pawnee to consider doing other things, like traveling the world. Tom knows he needs new friends. He probably wont seek them, but at least he knows his friends are idiots.

As unnerving as it was to see Leslie unravel, because we just wanted to be right there with her wagging our fists too, it was refreshing to see her doing something so Leslie-like for Ron. Remember, Ron’s married now, and she sends him on the greatest little adventure to a distillery in Scotland where he can appreciate the rest of the world for its advantages and where he may think twice before saying “History began on July 4, 1776. Everything before that was a mistake.”

But he wouldn’t be Ron if he didn’t say that.

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