The ‘Parks and Rec’ Special Hits a Heavenly Note in Sweet Reunion (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for NBC’s A Parks and Recreation Special.]
It may have been five years since fans last saw the gang who used to make up Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks Department, but not too much has changed for the beloved characters of Mike Schur and Greg Daniels‘ NBC comedy Parks and Recreation — other than the fact that they’re practicing social distancing in the ongoing health crisis.
We’re breaking down every moment from the exciting reunion episode but beware of major spoilers, you won’t want to read without watching — trust us!
Kicking the fun off is Paul Rudd, reprising his role as Bobby Newport, the not-so-bright heir to the Sweetums fortune who ran against Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) for City Council in Pawnee. Revealing he’s in Switzerland at his family’s fox hunting estate. Bobby introduces the special episode, saying Leslie sent him a special message to read aloud. The statement reveals that the cast has come together to raise money for feedingamerica.org/parksandrec to help those who are being impacted by coronavirus (which he classically mispronounces). In confusion he asks what’s been happening, that he hasn’t seen the news lately, and his shell-shocked face leads into the credits fans know and love.
The scene then switches to Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie chatting via Grzzyl — the social media platform introduced in the original series. Sitting down, fans are given a glimpse of Ben’s infamous Letters to Cleo shirt — the one he often wore in times of crisis. Currently at home with the kids, he shows Leslie that he’s found his claymation doll and a set of his game the Cones of Dunshire which have given him a brilliant idea to create a Cones of Dunshire claymation movie. Needless to say Leslie’s worried for her husband and she promises to be home soon, as she’s still at work and needs to fulfill her promised phone tree with friends.
First up on the call list? Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) who greets his friend and wonders why she’s calling again. “It’s a system, Ron, 7 p.m. phone tree. I call someone and then they call someone,” she reminds him. While social distancing occurs, Ron’s up at the cabin with his family where there’s plenty of meat for them to survive, and he reassures Leslie about his mental health, revealing a bottle of his Lagavulin whisky and saying “I’ve been social distancing since I was four years old.” During their chat, she reveals she’s at work to help with various committees she’s created, even if the parks she’s overseeing are closed.
When Ron asks who he’s meant to call and learns it’s Garry (Jim O’Heir), he sighs and hangs up with Leslie before dialing up April (Aubrey Plaza) instead who is going by the username Satan’s Niece (very on-brand if you ask us). When she answers his call she’s covered in a collection of un-matching garments and she explains that she and Andy (Chris Pratt) put their clothes in garbage bags and she picks five random things to wear each day. Telling April he was supposed to call Garry and chose her and Andy instead, she yells for her husband who picks up from a different place than her. When Ron asks where he is, Andy claims he’s in the shed before admitting he’s been stuck in there for two days after accidentally locking himself in. Too prideful as his alter-ego Burt Macklin, Andy says he doesn’t need help but says he’s pretty hungry.
Once Ron leaves the chat, Andy and April choose to call Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ann (Rashida Jones) instead of Garry, learning that despite being married and living in the same house, Chris has stationed himself with the kids in the living room as Ann self-quarantines because she’s currently nursing in outpatient care. Chris also shares that due to his extremely healthy nature, he’s been donating blood like crazy. As their conversation fizzles out, Leslie chimes in and Andy and April bid her adieu, revealing someone still has to call Garry.
Fans of Ann and Leslie’s friendship see a sweet exchange as the pair catch up on things after Chris is booted from the call. Eventually Leslie adds Tom (Aziz Ansari) into the call as he greets them with a drink in hand and tropical background behind him. Looking for clarification, Leslie explains to Ann that Tom was supposed to be on his book tour in Bali, but due to the virus it got postponed. Ever the entrepreneur, he brings up various ideas he’s had since going into isolation among which include double breasted pajamas and “teeny-tiny iPads” for each finger. After bashing the concepts, Tom admits that they’ve been coming to him during his 11 p.m. naps since time isn’t being followed normally anymore.
Laughing when he’s told to call Garry next, Tom hangs up and rings Donna (Retta) instead, as they do a cheers through the screen. She shares that her husband Joe (Keegan-Michael Key) has been teaching from home and mentions the difficulty involved with the process, adding that all teachers deserve Mercedes of their own, because we all know how important Donna’s is to her.
Taking the proverbial bullet, Donna agrees to call Garry but Tom tells her to wait as he adds someone in against their will. Garry answers to Donna and Leslie as he’s asked how Pawnee’s doing as Mayor, and while he reassures that things are fine, he did get some pushback about canceling the annual “Popsicle lick-n-pass.” In the midst of the conversation, Garry has some problems with face filters as hilarity ensues, and Leslie offers her and Ben’s help for Pawnee, mentioning being on a media blitz to try and spread the word about staying in and keeping stock of your mental health.
He thanks her and the next scene leads into Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins) who has created a unique intro to her “at home” version of Pawnee Today, At Home with Joan. She speaks with Ben and Leslie and based on the frightening dolls surrounding her, sanity is certainly hard to find in the TV personality’s home as her massive self-portraits line the wall behind her. Leslie and Ben speak about the importance of staying well mentally and the interview is eventually cut off by Joan who grabs a martini before hanging up.
Before they make another Pawnee TV appearance, Ben and Leslie are put on hold for a local commercial featuring Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas) who is advertising his latest cologne entitled Miracle Cure, which has killed everything it’s been tested on, assuring viewers it will also do the same to coronavirus.
When they return from break, Leslie and Ben are joining Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) for Ya Heard with Perd? Talking about anxiety in quarantine, Leslie’s conversation is steered when Ben brings up his claymation movie idea and she tries to shut it down. Getting back on track, Leslie reveals she’s staying sane by talking to her “desert fox” of a friend, Ann, and how important it is to stay in touch.
Once again breaking for commercials, Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser) is next up as he pedals a home dental delivery service while wearing a kimono and sporting a fresh haircut he’s given himself while staying in. And the last ad features non other than Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) who is flush with cash after being run over by a Porsche. Advertising himself, Jean-Ralphio shares his phone number for viewers to call him because he’s lonely after being banned from Cameo — a virtual platform — for doing videos naked.
Once they’ve returned to Ya Heard with Perd? Leslie and Ben introduce Andy’s character Johnny Karate who gives tips to young viewers including helpful hints about washing your hands — even though he hasn’t — and reminds them that even though this social distancing could last a long time it will eventually end.
After her media engagements, Leslie calls Ron to find him in head-to-toe protective gear and while she’s glad he’s taking things serious, he reveals the real reason for his outfit. After spending some time out, Ron returned home to his cabin only to find Tammy Two (Offerman’s real-life wife, Megan Mullally) waiting for him and so he’s decontaminating the space, saying he plans to leave Tammy at the fire station. Meanwhile, Leslie laments that she wishes she could talk to everyone instead of brief separate conversations. Once she hangs up, Ron calls April and says he needs help to which she responds by playing drums for an hour before Ben and Leslie chat alone.
He admits the script he’d been coming up for his claymation film was bad and that he needs to reevaluate his mental and emotional health. Eventually they’re interrupted by another call and Ben says to merge it and trust him, so Leslie does. This includes a group call from everyone, and Leslie couldn’t be happier to see her friends in the same moment. To cheer her up, Andy leads the gang in a rendition of Mouse Rat’s classic tune “5000 Candles in the Wind.” After the song is over and she thanks everyone, it’s just her and Ron left alone.
Leslie thanks Ron and asks about Tammy, who he explains escaped, but that he’s not concerned about her, but more for the wolves she may encounter in the woods. “Thank you very much for doing this for me, Ron,” Leslie says.
“It was easy, I just called all of your friends and told them I thought you needed a little help. They cleared their schedules.” As their chat continues, Ron concludes things by saying, “Leslie, don’t spend all your time looking after other people. Look after yourself every once in a while.” In other words, Ron is giving us all permission to let the waterworks flow, just make sure you have a tissue nearby.
What did you think about the reunion special? Let us know in the comments below.