'Parks and Rec' Season 7 Predictions For Leslie, Ben, & Everyone Else You Love
*spoilers from Thursday's finale to follow*
When people talk about the "big thing" that happened on a Thursday night TV show, usually they're referring to the demise of some character on Scandal or Grey's, certainly not any event occurring on a show as calm and sweet as Parks & Recreation. Yet on Thursday night's Parks and Rec season finale, the major twist at the episode's end had viewers reacting with Shonda Rhimes-level intensity, and for good reason: the show had fast-forwarded first a month, then three years into the future, a world where Leslie is boss, the triplets are toddlers, and Jon Hamm is a worse employee than Larry (now Terry). What. The. Hell.
Let's step back for a moment. The episode's last few minutes were its most major, of course, but prior to that scene, some pretty substantial developments had happened to our favorite Pawnee-ins. After a lot of back-and-forth that included a meeting with future colleagues and a high-five with Michelle Obama ("YOU ARE FROM CHICAGO SO YOU LIKE IT"), Leslie decided to to take the Chicago job, only with one caveat: she didn't want to move. So, after some misheard advice from Ron, she managed to convince the National Parks Service guy to let her run the department from Pawnee, specifically the third floor of City Hall that Ron and his baby had been fixing up all season.
Suddenly, it was one month later. The jump was unexpected, but it made sense; who really wanted to see Leslie fill out paperwork or Ben work on his copyright, for the rest of the episode? We saw Leslie move into her new office, got a nice shot of her posting a sweet framed photo of the Parks department on the wall.... and then it was THREE YEARS LATER. We barely had time to pick our jaws off the floor before future Leslie (with bangs!) stormed into the room, blaring about a "media blackout" and berating Ed (Jon Hamm?!) for being incompetent. Then came a tuxedo-wearing Ben, talking about his "big night," April and Andy (in a sling?) walking in with Leslie and Ben's now-toddler triplets, and the news that people in Ben's office were anxiously waiting for Leslie to talk to them. Something big had hit Parks in the last three years, but until season seven premieres in the fall, we won't know what.
That doesn't mean we can't guess, though. Here's what we think went down with each character pre-time jump:
From the bustling office and high-pressure event, it seems that Leslie has settled in well to her new job, possibly even outgrowing it for something more demanding. She's in charge of at least a dozen employees, is flying to South Dakota, and has grown confident enough to fire people with ease (albeit probably only if they're worse employees than Larry/Terry). Those people waiting in Ben's office to speak to her, though, didn't sound good; Leslie is likely in the midst of yet another (though higher-scale) political crisis, perhaps one based near Mount Rushmore. Hopefully, Jeremy Jamm isn't involved this time around.
Future Ben is in a tuxedo, and his "big night" is only hours away. Three years before, he'd just received the copyright to Cones of Dunshire, and was psyched to see the game take off with geeks across the country. Maybe the game has blown up even further, and Ben's about to be celebrated for earning a Massive Achievement in Nerdiness, or something. Or maybe the game's being turned into a Thrones-like TV show or film? It certainly wouldn't be the biggest shock about the time-jump.
April and Andy
Seeing as they were babysitting Leslie and Ben's kids, they're clearly still living in Pawnee. The only real change we saw was Andy being in a sling, which, as Parks' producer Michael Schur told EW, is just a nod to the character's former accident-prone self. "Two years ago, [Chris] Pratt sent me an email that simply said, 'It’s time for Andy to get hurt again,'" Schur said, and so they worked in his clumsiness into the finale. As for what the couple is up to three years from now, Schur didn't say — our best guess is that they're working alongside Leslie, April manning the Animal Welfare department and Andy doing... something.
Ron, Donna, and Tom
None of these characters appeared in the flash-forward, which would've gotten us worried if Schur hadn't promised that "everybody's back" next season. Still, he added that "it was a conscious decision on our part not to show the people we didn’t show and to show the people that we did," so the absence of Ron, Donna and Tom definitely means something. Maybe those chairs Ron made for Tom's Bistro gained notice, and he's busy making more in his workshop all day. Speaking of which, Schur did say, when asked about the restaurant's future, that "for various reasons, we thought we should not see Tom in that scene." Perhaps the restaurant is doing so well that Tom's off meeting with celebrities and planning expansions. As for Donna? Our money's on her touring the country with her cousin, Ginuwine, hopefully with her boyfriend (or husband?) by her side.
The Man Formerly Known as Larry is now Terry. He's working for Leslie, fumbling papers, and is generally incompetent. Nothing has changed.
The First Lady made a quick cameo on Thursday's episode, and "our door is permanently opened to Michelle Obama to come back any time she would like," Schur said. Her husband is also welcome, if he wants.
"What a nice position to be in where the only person on Earth who would seem like a real get is the president of the United States," Schur said. "We’re on the case — we’re working on it."