Ever since the news broke earlier this summer that Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones were going to be leaving “Parks and Recreation” in the midway point of season 6, you knew that this was coming. However, Thursday night’s new episode is the one that really got us on the road to seeing that happen beyond just Ann having a few thoughts that Pawnee may not be the best place for her.
This revelation came during “Doppelgangers,” a very funny episode that featured some great guest-starring appearances from actors as the Eagleton versions of some of our favorite folks in the Parks Department. Billy Eichner did a slight version of the “Billy on the Street” character as Craig, the more enthusiastic version of Donna that loves his job quite possibly more than he enjoys living. Meanwhile, Sam Elliott was wonderfully against type as “Ron Dunn,” the anti-Ron Swanson who was a vegan and also an environmentalist. Tom did not have a human counterpart; instead, he battled the robot revolution in the form of a computer.
How did Leslie take the news that Ann was “thinking” about leaving with Chris to start their family elsewhere? Basically, about as well as you take getting slapped in the face. It was a token Leslie Knope panic attack, and one of the best ones as she scrambled to suddenly try to pretend like the Eagleton workers, a group of people she once felt were beyond scum of the earth, were suddenly her friends. But in the end, this was the beginning of Leslie coming to terms with the truth that people move on, and it’s okay. She and Ann can still be friends without being in the same place.
What makes the sign of the actors’ exit later this year a little worse is the feeling that the series is also winding down. With the ratings as they are, we’d be shocked if “Parks and Recreation” has any more stories to tell beyond this year. We just hope that if this is the last year, Jones and Lowe (who has another pilot) will return for the series finale; oh, and we should also ask NBC to make sure that they inform producers if this is the final season in enough time for them to a proper ending.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. When it comes to the beginning of the end for Ann and Chris on the show, “Doppelganger” was a strong episode that helped us not remember that Andy was gone from the show. We just better have a few more classics in the next couple of months so that we, like Leslie, can get used to all the change.