You can’t really blame Leslie for coping so poorly with her final day as city councilwoman, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing to watch in action. The perfectly titled “Second Chunce” focused on her unhappiness and refusal to move on, and in that it was a bit unique. Sitcoms aren’t usually about failure because, well, that’s not a particularly funny topic except in cringe comedy, but Parks and Recreation delves into this material without being treacly or belittling Leslie’s emotions. In short, it was a perfect 100th episode for a show that, with six seasons under its belt, is still continuing as strongly as ever.
So yes, Leslie spends the beginning of “Chunce” moving out, but it’s not long before she jumps right into a campaign to run as…city councilwoman for Pawnee. Again. Needless to say, it’s a bad idea, but actually “needless to say” might not be correct. It’s more like “pointless to say,” as Leslie couldn’t care less about the fact that her running for the position again is a terrible idea and everyone around her can’t help but see it despite their love for her (that being said, Jerry’s approval of the idea implies it’s secretly good). “Chunce” was ultimately about her accepting these limitations, but it’s nice to see that, by the end of the episode, it looks like so is the show.
The only parts of this story that didn’t work perfectly were the large sums of money Ben seemed to be indiscriminately throwing around for Leslie during the episode’s finale. Not many of us have $1200 consulting sessions and trips to Paris easily at hand when we need to move on in life, and all of this together made the end of “Chunce” a slight cheat. Still, it was poetically satisfying, and emotionally real, even if the economics of the section grated on me a tad.
In a thematically linked story, Tom also fully puts Rent-a-Swag to rest and doles out money to his investors. Unlike Leslie, he has no trouble moving on, but his question is: To what? He’s yet to come up with an idea, so he opts for a Shark Tank-style investment session in which Pawneeans bring him and his esteemed panel—Ron, April and a sleeping Andy—their ideas and they consider putting money into them. All the ideas are terrible, but they lead Tom, with a slight prod from April, to creating a new position for himself as business liaison to Pawnee. Not only does this make sense, it’s also certain to lead to some more ridiculous businesses coming into the city.
On the side, we also had Chris and Ann finding out the sex of their baby, and while there were quite a few typical sitcom pregnancy jokes, well, they were good jokes. Even better was another appearance by Henry Winkler as Dr. Saperstein, aka Jean Ralphio’s father. It will be sad to see Chris and Ann leave simply because Parks captures both characters and their humor so well right now, but I’d be surprised if both characters don’t make some occasional appearances once they’re gone.
A fine 100th episode, and yet another example of Parks moving forward realistically in a way that few shows have ever managed. For all those jokes, it was pretty wonderful how much psychological realism there was in every member of the cast. Unlike most sitcoms that hit this milestone, Parks doesn’t seem to be diving into cartoonishness, and that’s why I’m hoping that we get another 100 episodes after this one. Here’s hoping NBC agrees—or at least gives us another season.