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'Parks and Recreation' recap: The truth behind Morningstar—revealed

Season 7 | Episodes 3 & 4 | “William Henry Harrison” and “Leslie & Ron” | Aired Jan 20, 2015

Airing episodes back-to-back is doing a lot of things to the final season of Parks and Recreation. Some (like me, for example) would say it’s making it difficult to savor the final moments of a beloved series. But, on the bright side, for anyone who thrives on binge-watching, this is about as close as you can get on network television.

One cool side effect of Parks’ speed walk to the finish line? Episodes that are “to be continued … right now.” Tonight’s Parks and Rec double feature was a two-part episode detailing the truth behind the Morningstar incident that drove a wedge between Leslie and Ron.

I have to give Parks credit: I felt like I’d been waiting literally forever to find out what the heck Morningstar was all about … even though it had only been two episodes and one week since the idea was even introduced. For anyone who missed last week’s episodes, Morningstar is the event cited (over and over) by Leslie as the reason she and Ron are not only no longer friends, but basically arch-nemeses. What, you might be wondering, could possibly drive such a wedge between Ron and Leslie? Sure, they have wildly different personalities, politics, and philosophies. The ingredients for bitter hatred are all there — but they have years of friendship that prove those things weren’t insurmountable, at least, not by the cheerily indomitable spirit of Leslie Knope.

We knew from the beginning of the season that Leslie was thriving in national government and Ron had left government work for the private sector, running his own business and development company, the Very Good Business & Development Company. Was leaving government work (which he’s obviously and openly hated for, well, ever) enough to ruin the Ron and Leslie bond?

No. It wasn’t. Leslie was bummed by the decision, but willing to accept it. What drove the nail into the coffin of their fading friendship was, on Leslie’s side at least, the development of the Morningstar Apartment complex. Ron’s company championed and built a luxury apartment building adjacent to the Pawnee Commons, the passion-project park she dedicated years of her life to getting built. The problem? There was already something adjacent to the Pawnee Commons: a neighborhood … full of houses … including Ann Perkins’ house.

Yes. Ron destroyed Ann’s house to build the Morningstar apartments, something Leslie considered unforgivable. Even though Ann hadn’t lived in the house for years by the time this happened, no one would ever accuse Leslie of being less than sentimental. I was skeptical about Morningstar. I couldn’t imagine anything that Ron could have done to alienate Leslie so completely. But this—leveling the former home of the best friend who left her—I do actually believe that would do the trick. Of course, aside from explaining her hatred of Ron, Ann hasn’t really come up so far this season. I hope her and Leslie’s friendship didn’t suffer the same fade-away fate Ron and Leslie’s was fighting just before their blowup.

But Leslie’s hurt and anger and indignation isn’t the whole story. For once, Leslie wasn’t the perfect friend, in tune with everyone’s emotions and wants and needs. Struggling to stay a big fish in a bigger pond took its toll on Leslie. She got busier and busier. She hired April and Terry from the Parks Dept. Tom and Donna left to pursue bigger and better things. Eventually, the staff dwindled and it was just Ron left. He was lonely, realizing that he’d grown to really love the group of misfits he used to pretend to despise.

After Leslie steals April away from Parks and Rec, Ron ventures to the third floor for the first and only time, to ask Leslie to get lunch with him. She jumps on the plans, but forgets them as quickly as they’re made when she gets news that she’s needed in D.C. She stands Ron up on the day he was planning to ask her for a job in the National Park Service. Cue the second moment of the night that wrenched my gut so hard I thought I might physically double over. Do I believe Ron would leave government work and pursue capitalism with a vengeance after being forgotten by the woman who never, ever forgets her friends? Yeah, I totally do.

“Leslie and Ron” finds the stubborn pair locked in the old Parks Dept. office to work out their differences, mostly because their feud has become so big that it’s ruining the lives of everyone else. Okay, that’s a lie. It’s mostly just ruining Ben’s life. It’s just making everyone else kind of sad. The Parks office now has magnetic, timed locks which have (somehow) transformed it into a functional prison. Why? Because it’s 2017, that’s why. Welcome to the future.

It takes all night, but Leslie eventually gets the truth out of Ron (see above) and feels appropriately terrible. Finally, they’re able to forgive each other and move on, leading to a lot of drunken debauchery and an all-nighter spent redecorating the Parks office to return it to its “retro” 2014 glory. The reveals are emotional and set Ron and Leslie up for an interesting new dynamic going into the final episodes, but the drunken silliness is the real treat for longtime Parks and Rec watchers, who should appreciate the oddly grounded whimsy of the sequence.

Parks and Recreation airs Tuesdays at 8/7C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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