What do we do when our dream fails us? When we reach a height we’d longed for and it’s taken from us? That’s the question facing Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in “Second Chunce,” the 100th episode of “Parks and Recreation.”
It’s her final day in office as Pawnee city council member, after the town she’s dedicated her life to rose up, made a big raspberry sound and voted her out of office. So Leslie spends the day trying to decide what she’ll do next. In her worry over not having a plan, she latches onto a disgraced councilman and decides she’ll ready a new campaign and run against him.
Nearly everyone in her life speaks for the audience at home hoping the show doesn’t so quickly retrace its steps, telling Leslie this is a terrible idea — well, everyone, that is, except Jerry, because he’s Jerry — but she won’t hear it. For Leslie, the prospect of waking up tomorrow without a purpose is cause for an identity crisis. So she runs headfirst into the only thing she can think of, going so far as to schedule a press conference for that day.
It’s not until Kathryn Hahn‘s campaign operative Jennifer Barkley returns to tell Leslie that she’s outgrown Pawnee and needs to go away, regroup and begin to think bigger that she finally gives herself permission to walk away. The show tries to milk some tension out of what Leslie might say during her press conference, but in the end, our expectations are subverted by Leslie’s little big decision.
“I will be heading to lunch today with my husband at J.J.’s Diner. We will eat waffles and then we will go home and make out on my couch. That is my future — for now. It has been an honor serving this town and I will cherish this moment forever. Thank you.”
So, the show leaves us still wondering what’s next for Leslie.
This lack of resolution seems a bit odd for such a milestone episode. It’s not often that a series uses an episode of this nature to do, well, a whole lot of nothing. Sure, there are some other character moments of note (which we’ll get to later), but “Second Chunce” feels as if it could have aired any old time. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode. It’s just that the episode doesn’t feel as if it does a whole lot, beyond give Leslie the permission to move on. Well, that and send her to Paris.
Oh well, there’s always the 200th episode to look forward to.
– Tom’s (Aziz Ansari) storyline has oddly mirrored Leslie’s this season, but somehow I can’t get myself to care about it very much. Oh well.
– Andy’s (Chris Pratt) return from London even felt a little underwhelming. Everything just felt less than what we expect from a 100th episode, right?
– Perd Hapley’s realization that he didn’t have his microphone at the end of Leslie’s presser may have been the funniest thing all night.