Parks and Recreation Season 5 Finale Review “Are You Better Off?”

Parks and Recreation season 5 episode 22 Are You Better Off? (2)

For the past several years, Parks and Recreation has been forced to do their season finales with the idea the episode may also serve as the series finale. That attitude has yielded some incredible episodes, including the midseason wedding episode, “Ben and Leslie” (which would have served as the season finale had NBC kept the order at the original 13). Suddenly, this season Parks has turned into the Peacock’s steadiest sitcom performer. With a season six all but official, the show decided to utilize this season finale to set up story lines for the presumptive season six.

Without a doubt, the fan favorite among these stories is Diane being pregnant with Ron’s child. We’ve watched Ron hilariously struggle to take to the idea of being a parent to two young girls (though he tries his best), so the idea of him with an infant sounds extremely delightful. The amount of ideas to come out of the writers’ room about this one will be astronomical. In addition, Ron’s personal life is not a constant focus for the show, so it will be easy to bounce in and out whenever they want to tell a humorous Ron parenting story.

Other supporting characters had some potentially important moments. Tom is set up to face off with a rival businessman to become king of the rental clothing business. Though the businessman remained a mystery, Mike Schur told Alan Sepinwall they had a good idea who it was. Whomever it is, it’s good to have a foil for Tom’s ever-increasing business. To this point, Tom’s maturation process has come without many hiccups. It will be interesting to see what he does with an enemy to battle.

While Tom struggles with a new foe, April struggles with going to Bloomington. There’s lots of interesting things going on here. First, Chris Pratt will miss several episodes next season while he shoots in the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Second, we’ve seen the show be very effective with long-distance relationships, but at least Ben had April to bounce things off of in Washington. Here, April would presumably be by herself. Aside from the occasionally wicked Skype calls, how is the show going to keep April integrated in the fabric of the show? Mike Schur and company have more than earned my trust, but it seems like a strange direction to take the character.

The biggest table-setting moment of the episode was Leslie’s confrontations with the group charged with getting her recalled. The entire storyline showcases Parks understanding of different points of view. Any action of the government official has consequences. However, most shows wouldn’t bother to show the negative impact of a positive thing our hero did. Everything done by an elected official is a matter of perception. It was an exceedingly well done story that summed up the season nicely while providing our heroic councilwoman with another hurdle to jump. Plus, anytime you can break out the Pawnee Public Forum, hilarity is sure to ensue.

It was a wholly different season finale than what we’ve come to expect from perennial bubble show Parks and Recreation. Finally with an opportunity to catch its breath, the show set itself up brilliantly for some fascinating avenues to explore in season 6. Thanks to the all-but-official renewal, I am better off. Thank you, Councilwoman Knope.

What did everyone think of the finale or the season as a whole? Respond in the comments below.