Say goodbye to Eagleton, kids. Say goodbye to Segway tours and Swarovski crystal oranges, to crepes at town hall meetings and scones in jail and retorts lovingly crafted by GB Shaw. It was only a matter of time before Eagleton’s excesses (they had Michael Bublé on retainer) pushed the town to the brink of an epic financial disaster.
Leslie’s pretty much living the dream right now. She gets to watch Eagleton fall back down to earth while slyly reminding Pawneeans that she saved them from a similar fate. Recall election in the bag? Maybe. I’d be a little disappointed in this uncharacteristically selfish behavior from our favorite public servant, but let’s not forget that Eagleton is the worst. And anyway, everything Leslie holds against Eagleton, she holds on behalf of her entire town. So she gloats, and she tells the jokes Ben wrote for the occasion (look at how proud he is that people are laughing at his jokes, oh precious baby Ben), and she makes the most delightful slideshow in the world.
Leslie gets so carried away that City Councilwoman Veronica Mars Ingrid de Forest starts to seem like the more reasonable of the two, and she can’t even say the word “money.” But don’t think for a second that Leslie doesn’t know what to do. She just needs to see a few kids help an opposing player off the court first, to be reminded that helping her neighbor is what she does best. It might cost her the recall election, and there’s no guarantee that Eagleton would do the same if the tables were turned, but remember what Ron said on a bench on London: Leslie’s got to be the adult here.
So Pawnee re-absorbs Eagleton. Does this mean Pawnee has palm trees now? And infinity pools? And dressage horses? PAWNEE, WHO EVEN ARE YOU? This opens up so many storytelling possibilities. I would gladly watch 2 to 17 hours of Leslie Knope joy-riding a Segway around Pawnee.
Leslie’s formed a softball league with Eagleton, designed a park with an Eagletonian, and come to terms with the fact that her birth certificate will never say Pawnee. A merger is the next logical step. If we’re leaving these people soon—and I can’t deny it anymore; we’ve got at least two goodbyes in our future—then we need Leslie Knope to make peace with this part of her community, which is also, literally, a part of herself. Eagleton is indulgent and short sighted and chases the wrong things, and sometimes, Leslie is the same. Eagleton is what happens when Leslie’s passion isn’t backed by reason. She’s dedicated, resourceful, and fiercely loyal, but if she’s not careful, she becomes the kind of person who can’t let her best friend move on with her life.
Because you guys, it’s happening. Ann takes one look at a Bloomington baby store, where they make bibs without Dale Earnhardt Junior’s face on them, and she realizes that maybe Pawnee isn’t the best place to raise a child. To Leslie, this is the ultimate betrayal. Pawnee, for all its flaws, is the best town in the world, because it’s hers, and if her own best friend doesn’t love Pawnee enough to stay, then does she even love Leslie? The whole focus of this show, as it was originally conceived, was on this unbreakable female friendship. That’s such a strong place to begin a series, and such a rare one. I’m sad that we’re losing that, but I’m glad that Leslie will never be the kind of woman who gets everything from her husband. Leslie needs Ann. Ben had, and I quote, NO COMMENT on Angelina Jolie’s leg at the Oscars! Leslie flips and lashes out, but she eventually remembers, again, that she’s the adult, and she’s ready to talk.
Ben, ever the level-headed one in this relationship, adapts better to the thought of losing his best friend. To help Ingrid, he and Chris get the band back together (Butch Countsidy and the Sumdance Kid: new band name I call it), and they end up facilitating the merger. I don’t really know what my heart is doing. They had a secret handshake? These two really only had each other, for such a long time. They’ve both found homes now, and they’re happy for each other, but I’m already crying at the thought of their goodbye hug. It’s a good thing Leslie will probably force them into weekly double dates, even if she has to fly somewhere to do it.
Next page: Ron Swan, Gettin’ Off the Grid