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 department, 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.”
* 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!