Parks and Recreation Premiere Recap: Leslie Knope Goes to War

Parks and Rec Season 7 Premiere

Still not used to writing “2015” in your planner? Well, you can (momentarily) forget about that.

Because tonight — thanks to Parks and Recreation‘s Season 7 premiere — we’re going to party like it’s 2017.

The NBC comedy returned to kick off its final season on Tuesday night with two back-to-back episodes. We’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover, so let’s jump right in with the highlights, shall we?

EPISODE 1 | We pick up with the Pawnee gang right where last April’s season finale left us: three years in the future, as Leslie and Ben get ready for Pawnee’s bicentennial celebration. But even though Ben’s being honored as the town’s Man of the Year, the night is even bigger for Leslie. She’s vying to obtain the Newport family’s up-for-grabs land, which she’d like to turn into a national park. Only one problem: She’s got no money to offer. Like, literally zero money, as indicated by the giant “0” she writes on a piece of paper and submits for consideration to the Newports.

Making matters much, much worse for Leslie? Her rival — gasp! — Ron Swanson. (“Hello, former strange person I used to friend,” Leslie says to Ron… warmly?) Sometime in the last three years, Ron left the Parks department, carving out (heh) his own path with the Very Good Building and Development Company. Together, he and the Gryzzl nerds have a lot of money to offer the Newports, and they stand a ridiculously high chance of getting the land over Leslie. But we’ll get back to that.

In the meantime, here’s where everyone else has landed in the last three years:

* Tom, now the owner of Tom’s Bistro and quite a few other restaurants, is a self-proclaimed “mogul.” As far as the Newport land is concerned, he’s totally on Ron’s side, after Mr. Swanson promised Tom enough space to put up another restaurant.

* Donna’s got her own realty company (which is brokering the potential Ron/Newport deal), and she’s engaged… to Joe?!

* April is still at the Parks departParks and Rec Season 7 Premierement, working as the “executive director of regional whatever,” and Andy’s got a part-time gig there, too, when he’s not starring in his TV series, Johnny Karate’s Super-Awesome Musical Explosion Show. (There are ninjas. Enough said.) Even though April and Andy fear they’ve turned into boring old people — “We’re planning our whole week!” April cries in horror — they opt to buy an old haunted house instead of getting renter’s insurance for their current place. The spontaneity is alive and well, people!

* Jerry/Gary/Larry/Gerry is now Terry.

EPISODE 2 | In the second episode of the evening, Ron and Leslie prepare to go head-to-head (see: “Ron prepares to demolish Leslie”) as the city council votes on whether to rezone the Newport land for commercial use. The tiebreaker vote belongs to good ol’ Councilman Jamm, who’s now dating Ron’s ex-wife, Tammy (returning guest star Megan Mullally). Even though Leslie tries to swing Jamm’s vote in her favor, she quickly realizes a bigger problem at hand: Tammy is absolutely ruining Jamm. (The man wears a diaper now, which is about all the detail you need on that relationship.)

Throughout the half-hour, Ron and Leslie call a temporary truce in order to help Jamm break things off with Tammy — which he successfully does, even after she strips down naked in a library and promises him sex. Even though Ron and Leslie ultimately decide to remain rivals, I could swear I saw them get misty-eyed after pulling off Operation Break Up Jammy. (Oh, as for the council vote? Jamm decides to abstain, leaving Ron and Leslie as deadlocked as ever.)

Elsewhere, Ben tries to help April find her dream career path — and none of us are surprised that her childhood ambition was to be a mortician, right? — and Andy and Tom head to Chicago so Mr. Mogul can rekindle a flame with his ex, Lucy. As it turns out, she’s got a boyfriend, and Tom can only muster up the nerve to offer her a job in Pawnee. But, as Andy wisely muses, “Tom and Lucy are totally going to fall in love.”

Other observations:

* Fleeting though his appearance may have been, wasn’t Jon Hamm’s parting line — “If anybody wants to hang, I will be at Subway.” — delivered perfectly?

* Who do we have to pay to hear more of Amy Poehler’s spot-on Megan Mullally impersonation?

* Any theories on Leslie and Ron’s “Morning Star” feud?

OK, your turn. What did you think of Parks‘ first two Season 7 episodes? Grade ’em in our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. ab says:

    Even though I just binged watched 6 seasons in a week, I got to say it was good and I feel I have been watching since the pilot.

  2. Tammy Too says:

    Amy Poehler’s spot-on Megan Mullally impersonation – Loved it!

  3. Babybop says:

    I can’t believe I ever doubted. Both episodes were laugh out loud funny!

  4. Sam says:

    I guess I’m in the minority because I hated it.

    • DB says:

      i didn’t enjoy it either. the time jump just killed the team dynamic and the charm. the pairing of the random friends who don’t really keep in touch and who don’t have much reason to do things together just seemed odd. hopeful the rest of the season will be better.

  5. Micahel says:

    Ron had said that he left the Parks department 2 years ago. My theory for “MorningStar” is that someone connected to the National Parks Dept (not Leslie, since she knows how this would go) tried to give Ron a veggie burger from the MorningStar vegetarian frozen food line, prompting him to leave the Parks department for good.

    In the words of Jack Donaghy, there are no bad ideas in brainstorming.

  6. madhatter360 says:

    Overall I enjoyed the episode, but unless I missed something, we still don’t know what Ben and Leslie’s kids are named.

  7. Tran says:

    I smell an Emmy nominee in Amy Poehler. She really deserves it. I give it an A+.

  8. Alice says:

    I loved the episodes, especially the de-programming scene. But I was a little heartbroken that Ron and Leslie aren’t friends anymore. Hopefully ultimately Gryzzl’s technology gets shut down from trying to eat it’s owners skin and they go bankrupt and can’t buy the land. Everybody wins. Sort of.

  9. JB says:

    What happened to April going to vet school? She had to ask Ann for a letter of recommendation. Is that just forgotten?

    • SL says:

      She went to the orientation (w/ Ann) and changed her mind. She told Ann she had a “gut feeling” Later Ann had a “gut feeling” about moving away from Pawnee to raise her baby.

  10. RD says:

    I found both episodes strangely humourless and lacking warmth. Very disappointing.

    • MiaB says:

      Yes. The great chemistry of the characters is what makes the show good, and they don’t seem like they have it this season. Hopefully they’ll get it back. Otherwise, I’ll pretend like the Season 6 finale is the series finale.

  11. Heather says:

    I didn’t think it was an impression…I think they looped in Megan’s voice. Both episodes were awesome!

  12. KC says:

    Time jump is ridiculous.

  13. Hannah says:

    I’m looking forward to what this season is going to bring. Last season means they have nothing to lose so I say bring on the outrageous plots! A 3 year time jump is a good start!

  14. BeaAnn44 says:

    “Tammy is absolutely ruining Jamm. (The man wears a diaper now, which is about all the detail you need on that relationship.)” All the detail you need? How about mentioning the fact that Tammy was slowly turning Jam into Ron down to his clothes, diet (steak and whiskey) and the moustache!!! I think those are extremely important details to include in the recap!

  15. Rich Abey says:

    Amy Poehler’s spot on impression of Tammy 2 got me into a laughing fit…that was gold! Impressive premier overall. Loved the fact that April’s childhood dream was to be a mortician!

  16. KatsMom says:

    Was anyone else bothered by the fact that Tom, Andy and Lucy were wandering around Chicago, and, with no break in their conversation, they wound up miles away from where they’d been seconds ago? We thought they were traveling “by map” a la The Muppets.

  17. Brigid says:

    I must have missed John Hamm, never saw him. Please let Amy Poehler do Tammy voice every other episode, it is spot on and lol funny!! I’m just so happy it’s back, I really missed my Pawnee family!

  18. JackieC says:

    What happened to Ron’s new wife and her daughters? No mention of them, unless I missed it