Spoiler Alert, friends and residents of Pawnee, Indiana: if you didn't vote (or see the results of) the vote to recall Councilwoman Leslie Knope, you may want to steer clear of this post (or chastise yourself for having missed it — either works). Now scoot, scram! This is not a Parks and Recreation spoiler-free home. Now get! All of yas.
Alright, now that that’s settled: Fellow surrogate Pawneeans — I know how you feel. Tonight’s two new episode of Parks and Recreation — after a painful three week hiatus — revealed the worst news of all: Councilwoman Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) is no longer that. It’s back to the unhallowed halls of the Parks and Rec department, because in 30 days, she’s no longer the official thorn in Councilman Jamm’s side. Damn you, Jamm! The wretched rascals and brutish imps that haunt the streets and Sweetums outlet stores have spoken and it seems that sugary sodas are more important than their biggest advocate’s stay in office. To which we say: nooooooooooooo! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy god whyyyyyyyyy?!
Life is a cruel and unusual game: sometimes the right people don’t always end up at the top of the heap, and with this crushing blow, Knope’s got a lot to think about. So while we allow our favorite public servant to make the most of her 30 remaining days in office, we decided to take a peek into the possibilities in Leslie’s future. “Well there’s a lot of comedy coming up,” explained Poehler at a press screening for the new episodes. They always say the greatest comedy comes from great tragedy, and “the next two episodes are largely about Leslie taking stock of her career and trying to, desperately, jam through some last-minute agenda items. No pun intended,” explained the show’s co-creator Michael Schur, referencing Knope's über-nemsis, Councilman Jamm.
“It’s largely about how she tries to finish off her career as a councilwoman, and the 100th episode — which airs in January — is about, literally, her final hours, “ said Schur.
“In fact she has a big clock in one of the episodes, like Flava Flav,” added Adam Scott.
All jokes aside, if it feels cruel to you that they’ve taken Leslie’s hopes and dreams and flushed them down a toilet, you’re not alone. The staff also had a hard time figuring out what Leslie’s trajectory was going to be, and how each outcome would influence her storyline moving forward. Was getting recalled always in the cards? “No it was not,” explained Schur. He went on to discuss the 10 weeks leading up to shooting, where writers went back and forth on the merits of Leslie’s departure or continuance as the councilwoman from Pawnee. Ultimately, the options, pros, and cons all lead to one conclusion: it was time for Leslie to move on.
Which is, really, the best thing the show could’ve done for its leading lady, because the possibilities are now truly endless. Once knocked down, Knope doesn’t wallow in her own sadness for long (as evidenced by the end of “Recall Vote”). Surely the chance to branch out beyond her small town’s misguided leanings would make for a more fulfilled Knope — she could follow her heart whichever way it leads, rather than feeling the pull of duty towards the people of Pawnee that have kept her grounded in the small town for, let’s face it, probably a bit too long. Knope’s got hope, ballooned by big dreams and with nothing left to lose we’ve got everything left to gain.
Parks and Recreation airs Thursday nights on NBC.