PARKS AND RECREATION 4.06 ‘End of the World’

A doomsday cult predicts an apocalypse as Tom throws a party. Meanwhile, Leslie sabotages Ben's chances for happiness.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "End of the World"

Writer: Michael Schur

Director: Dean Holland

Last week, Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) proved that he may be the biggest douche on TV. However, this week he had strong competition from… Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)?!

But first, Herb Scafer (Robert Pine) has a dire prediction: the world will end tomorrow! As Leslie helpfully explains, Herb is the current leader of a cult that controlled Pawnee in the '70s. And every few months, the cult predicts the end of the world. Think of Herb as a small town Harold Camping, with an oddly Scientology -like religious bent, including an intergalactic being known as Zorg who intends to turn humanity's collective faces into fuel.

Always fearful of bad press, Leslie recruits Chris (Rob Lowe), Ben (Adam Scott) and Ann (Rashida Jones) to spend the night with her in the park to keep the local reporters at bay and keep the cultists relatively calm. Except Ben is noticeably reluctant to spend any time with Leslie. Their breakup was amicable, but recent episodes have shown that Ben is far from over her.

And apparently, Leslie is pretty far from being over Ben as well. Leslie freaks out when a reporter named Shauna Malwae-Tweep (Alison Becker) demonstrates romantic interest in Ben. Even though she has no reasonable hold on Ben, Leslie proceeds to continuously sabotage Ben's conversation with Shauna and she even drags him to a gas station that she insists used to belong to Mick Jagger.

Ben puts up with her… to a point, before making sure that Leslie understands that he knows what she's doing. Keep in mind, Ben doesn't have many ties in town and he almost seems ready to move on in another city. If he can't have Leslie, Shauna could have at least made him happy for a while.

Meanwhile, Leslie pours her heart out to Ron — who made a killing selling flutes to the Doomsday cultists. And despite Ron's attempt to keep out of a personal conversation, he gives Leslie a truly solid piece of advice by reminding her that even though she wants to be with Ben, she would still face a political scandal if they were together while working for the city.

Leslie really came off badly in this episode, approaching even Tom's level of dickery. We may be meant to root for Leslie and Ben's eventual reconciliation, but she was truly unsympathetic for most of the episode while she hounded him.

At the very least, Leslie realizes that she's been a jerk and she apologizes to Ben the following morning. Leslie even offers to apologize to Shauna; whom she is glad to see didn't come home with Ben.

As for Tom, last week's episode was seemingly the end of the Entertainment 720 story… until the other King Douche, Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) returned and the now almost broke entrepreneurs decided to throw one last bash to coincide with Herb's end of the world prediction. The party was actually the most fun that Entertainment 720 has managed to be all season. There was even a welcome return from Lucy (Natalie Morales); which Tom takes as a kind gesture from Jean-Ralphio. But in reality, Jean-Ralphio forgot that they were an item and wanted Lucy for himself.

It's a shame that Morales isn't sticking around, because Lucy's presence almost makes Tom bearable. But let this be the end of Entertainment 720, please!

The other subplot dealt with April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) going over the few things on Andy's bucket list that they could actually afford to do, like staging a poor man's action film for Andy to star in and holding a thousand dollars in his hands. More ambitiously, they steal the car belonging to April's father and drive off to the Grand Canyon; which is so majestic that even April can't scoff at it or think of anything sarcastic to say. 

In smaller moments, Chris had an amusing scene in which he was briefly intrigued by Herb's philosophy of reincarnation… until he heard the full details of Herb's belief system. Chris was much more touched by a remark that Ann made about people being less worried about their next lives and more focused on the ones that they have. Even though they broke up ages ago, Chris still seems to use "Ann Perkins" as an alternate way of saying something positive.

It goes without saying that the world doesn't end, but Herb shows up one last time to reschedule the apocalypse for a time that doesn't conflict with another event at the park.

This wasn't the strongest episode of the season, but it had enough good character beats that it still managed to hold together fairly well.

Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.