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Recap / Parks And Recreation S 07 E 04

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Leslie: What happened to these workplace proximity associates?

The other former Parks and Recreation Department members have become fed up with Leslie and Ron's feud and have locked them up in the old office until morning time so they can finally resolve their differences. Neither can bear the thought of being alone with each other for ten hours, but they are unable to escape via any other means. Leslie proposes they simply wait a bit and then turn on the baby monitor left for them and inform Ben they have talked it out and made up. However, Leslie's pretend version of her apologizing for caring too much and Ron admitting to being stubborn does not sit well with Ron; her sarcastic alternative is more to Ron's liking, which leads to Leslie throwing the monitor on the ground and destroying their only means of an early exit.

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Ron refuses to open up and chooses to sit in silence while Leslie pesters him to get him to talk, resorting to increasingly weirder ways of annoying him until he can't stand it anymore. He finally cracks when she begins inaccurately singing the song "We Didn't Start the Fire" from an old picnic event mix CD and he agrees to speak with her for three minutes. To aid her in her discussion with Ron, Leslie draws up a timeline of a number of key events that occurred over the last three years that may have contributed to the demise of their friendship, culminating in the Morningstar event. Morningstar is a luxury apartment complex that Ron's construction company was hired to build near the Pawnee Commons and Leslie was furious with Ron for the fact that he did not tell her in advance about the plans, combined with the project's go-ahead to remove many of the surrounding houses, including Ann's old house. Leslie figures she has deduced what happened, but Ron reveals that there is more to the story of what happened and why he left the Parks Department. However, before Leslie can get anymore out of him, Ron's watch beeps to signal that the three minutes are up. He subsequently runs into his old office to avoid discussing the matter any further.

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Since Ron isn't willing to explain anything, Leslie begins asking him several different questions outside his office to get to the bottom of the matter. Ron eventually has enough and tries to find a new way to escape. He finds the "partially defused" claymore mine that Leslie gave him ten years ago, and tries to blow open the door, but it turns out to be a dud — Leslie had bought the empty shell online and filled it with balloons and confetti as an anniversary gift for Ron being the Department Director for five years.

Two more hours go by and Leslie has sifted through a number of the pair's old projects and documents in order to expand her original timeline chart. She stumbles across her Parks Department job application and is keen to read what Ron's very first impressions of her were. His words were blunt in describing how he and Leslie would never be able to mesh due to their completely different ideals, and that it would be a volatile relationship from the start. However, he was adamant that Leslie should be hired. Ron explains that it was her interview that had him convinced — to him, she was tough and honest, and stood up for what she believed in even if it might have damaged her chances of getting the job. The two have finally opened up to each other, but Ron can't bear to have the conversation get sappier. He tries one final thing to get out: pulling the fire switch. It's another failure as the alarm merely turns on the sprinklers — the fire department deactivated it due to April pulling it all the time.

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Having exhausted all possible options and with nowhere to run and nothing to do, Ron has no choice but to talk. Over a bottle of whiskey that he's kept hidden in a secret compartment in his old office, Ron finally gives in to spilling his side of the story. He explains that after Leslie left to join the National Parks Service on the third floor, she took both Terry and April with her while both Tom and Donna left to pursue their new careers. And one day, he looked up out his window and didn't know or recognize any of the new department employees. So, in a bold move for Ron, he made a decision in November 2014: to ask Leslie for a job at the National Parks Service over lunch. But due to her job keeping her so busy, Leslie inadvertently stood Ron up. This blow made Ron realize that his time in government work was over, so he quit his job as Director of the Parks Department and didn't feel the need to explain his decision to anyone.

Knowing the full story, Leslie apologizes to Ron for her actions. Ron himself apologizes back for being petty in his own ways and for stubbornly refusing to explain himself, as well as for bulldozing Ann's old house. Now that they have reconciled, Ron and Leslie pass the rest of the time they have left in the old office redecorating the place with all their old ornaments and furniture and rock out to the picnic mix CD until the gang comes back to let them out in the morning.

By the afternoon of the next day, the two old companions are once again on good terms. As a peace offering, Ron presents Leslie with a framed picture of himself and Leslie with Li'l Sebastian. He explains the wood used for the frame is from the front door from Ann's old house, having salvaged the door himself in the event he and Leslie may someday reconcile. The pair then head off to indulge in their favorite pastime: eating "too much breakfast food" at JJ's Diner.

Tropes

  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: A variation - the landmine Ron tries to use to blow up the doors to the office turns out to be a defused empty shell that was full of balloons and confetti. Ron is bewildered he had a toy on his desk all these years while Leslie is shocked that Ron thought she actually gave him an active weapon for a gift.
  • Call-Back: The city hall janitor listening to a walkman playing Shania Twain's "Man I Feel Like a Woman" previously appeared in "Li'l Sebastian".
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Leslie goes to creative lengths to get Ron to finally open up and talk to her. So she decides to annoy him to the point that he snaps, doing stuff like dripping water on his mustache, talking to him in annoying accents and voices, screaming in his ear, blowing a fan on him, insulting his wood carving hobby, and covering him in sticky notes and wheeling his chair all around the office.
  • Extreme Doormat: Terry comes very close to letting Ron and Leslie convince him to free them before getting dragged off by an exasperated April.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After exhausting every way they could to get out of the office, Leslie and Ron have no other option but to talk. Ron takes out a bottle of whiskey he kept stashed in a secret compartment in his old office, stating that he's going to need a lot if he's going to have to talk about his feelings.
  • Insistent Terminology: Instead of friends, Ron just calls Leslie a "workplace proximity associate".
  • Jerkass Realization: For Ron, when he acknowledges that his bitterness had festered into a full-blown grudge that he took out in rather petty ways.
  • Locked in a Room: Leslie and Ron are locked in the Parks Department office for the whole night by the others in order to resolve their differences.
  • Mondegreen: In-Universe, Leslie deliberately butchers the lyrics of "We Didn't Start the Fire" in order to annoy Ron enough to get him to talk. It works.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Leslie's reaction to finding out that she inadvertently stood Ron up for lunch when he was about to ask her for a job.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: Ron and Leslie try to get the attention of a janitor on the other side of the building to escape, but due to distance, not looking in their direction, and having his headphones on blaring music, he doesn't notice.
  • Odd Friendship: This episode explores Ron and Leslie's to the point that it could be considered a Reconstructed Trope.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: While trying to get the attention of the late-night janitor on the other side of the building, Ron screams that he'll watch a foreign film or talk to a man with a ponytail if he gets out.
  • The Reveal: For the root of Ron and Leslie's feud, on both sides.
    • What is Morningstar and why does Leslie hate it so much? It's an apartment complex built near the Pawnee Commons that required the demolishing of Ann's old house to be built. And Ron's construction company did all that.
    • Where does Ron's bitterness over this stuff stem from? Basically, after Leslie left to run the new National Parks Department and took April and Terry with her while Tom and Donna left to run their own businesses, Ron looked up from his office one day and realized he didn't recognize any of the department's new employees. So he, in a moment of compromising his dear principles, decided to ask Leslie for a job with the federal government. But when her busy schedule caused her to accidentally forget about their meeting the next day, Ron quit government work altogether and didn't feel the need to explain himself to anyone, all the while letting his bitter feelings and shame fester into a grudge.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Leslie claims that when she found out about Morningstar, she calmly went to Ron's office to discuss the issue with him. In reality, she stormed in there and yelled at and insulted him.
  • Something Completely Different: This is the only episode with a solid fourth wall, rather than being shot in the usual Mockumentary style.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: Leslie annoys Ron by singing along to "We Didn't Start the Fire" despite not knowing all the words, so she makes up her own lyrics as she goes along.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Leslie demands to know what Ron's big problem is, but Ron stays stubbornly silent, simply telling her she'll have to claw it right out of him. Leslie takes up the challenge. She even invokes this at one point while she's trying to annoy Ron, using an exaggerated German/Eastern European accent ("You vill talk to meee, nein?") for good measure.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Or rather "workplace proximity associates". They make up at the end.
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