Laura Tormos ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Alone, this week’s “William Henry Harrison” is nothing particularly special. Sure, it’s funny, and it absolutely works—but it’s pretty standard as far as Parks and Recreation episodes go. It wasn’t absolutely hilarious. It was, however, necessary: the material was obviously lighter in order to lead up to the much more substantial second half, “Leslie and Ron,” when everyone involved in the National Parks Service vs. Gryzzl debacle (which was really more like a Leslie (Amy Poehler) vs Ron (Nick Offerman) debacle) got fed up and locked Leslie and Ron together in the old Parks office to (thankfully) work things out. The antagonism between them would have probably gotten old—not to mention it was just plain upsetting to watch.
Despite some of the more exhausting bits of “William Henry Harrison,” there really were some great comedic moments—mostly in the details, as per usual with Parks and Recreation. Specifically the different rooms in the Harrison museum, like the If He’d Worn a Coat room and the Other Things That Were Famous For One Month room. Like April said, it’s “weird and sad and unnecessary,” but it was still pretty great. Also, there were some 2017 facts thrown out throughout the episode, like Elton John buying Chick-fil-A, the Pulitzer Prize honouring Listicles, and a heated feud between Morgan Freeman and Shailene Woodley.
“William Henry Harrison” would have seemed more appealing had it not come with “Leslie and Ron,” which outshined it and really drove it home in what was both an emotional and extremely satisfying wrap-up to a 4-episode arc. It was moving and very funny, which is pretty impressive, since it was left to just two characters—Leslie and Ron—to carry out all of the comedic and narrative weight of the episode. And carry it they did. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman did a terrific job with this episode, and showing Ron’s vulnerable side is always a welcome occurrence, especially if we shed a few tears along the way. Having their falling out stem from Ron actually missing all of his Parks friends and Leslie being too busy for him was heartbreaking, and a much better alternative than some silly, trivial reason like the Morningstar apartment-complex debacle.
Taking a break from the rest of the characters and the silly 2017 facts was worth it, for this episode—though we did get a brief hint into the going-ons of Game of Thrones’ Season 8 finale. And despite the emotional weight of the episode, it was definitely still hilarious: there was Leslie singing along to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” despite not knowing the lyrics, covering Ron in post-it notes in a desperate attempt to get him to break his silence, and discovering that the janitor still rocks out to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” after all these years.
“Ron and Leslie” not only, finally, curbed our anxiety over the two being at odds by having them return to being friends, but it got us there in a genuinely moving way. They were funny, touching, and tender, and it could not have ended any better way than having them both simultaneously drunk and hungover at two in the afternoon, heading over arm-in-arm to JJ’s diner to stuff themselves with too much breakfast food.
And the frame Ron made out of Ann’s old door was a nice touch, too.
Overall Episode Grade: A