“Parks and Recreation” will premiere the first two episodes of its seventh and final season on Tuesday, Jan. 13. With six long seasons of dense inside jokes and character development, even hardened fans of the NBC comedy may need a refresher going into the unique final season.
Before diving head first into the Season 7 premiere, which will air two episodes back-to-back each week, fans might want to take a minute to get caught up with where the show left off.
1. 2017 – The first thing everyone needs to keep in mind for tonight’s premiere is that the show has really messed with its own timeline. Season 6 ended with a time jump to three years in the future. The show had previously taken place in present day, but the creators decided to jump ahead to 2017 for the finale. After drafting the Season 6 finale as the show’s ending, executive producer Michael Schur told Entertainment Weekly that rather than rework all of the happy endings they’d written for each character, the team decided to head to the future to see how all these storylines actually played out.
2. Tom’s Bistro – According to the first sneak peak of Season 7, Tom Haverford’s latest business venture, a restaurant called “Tom’s Bistro,” has done well. “I’m a mogul now,” the character boasts. After throwing a spectacular after-party to the Pawnee Eagleton Unity concert at the end of Season 6, it looks like Tom has finally found a money making scheme that works. So what if the “scheme” happens to be hard work and good business sense?
3. Johnny Karate – Speaking of “Parks and Rec” characters that are finally making it work, Johnny Karate, the children’s character played by Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), now has his own TV show! Things ended on a high note for Andy last season as his band, “Mouse Rat,” got back together to close the amazing Unity Concert. It looks like in the three years since, he’s managed to leverage his talent for entertaining children into a lucrative career - or at least a really fun one. [Spoiler Alert: There will be ninjas!]
4. Triplets – Season 6 ended with Ben (Adam Scott) and Leslie (Amy Poehler) on a high note. The former Pawnee Town Councilwoman was pregnant with triplets and was offered a job as the Midwest Regional Director of the National Parks Service. All season long she struggled with whether or not to take the job, which meant moving away from Pawnee and the people she loved. However, thanks to Ron’s renovation of the Pawnee City Hall’s third floor, she convinced the National Parks people to let her work from Pawnee. Three years later, she’s in the thick of that job with three small children and her regular teammates surrounding her (yes, including Larry/Gary/Terry/Jerry).
5. Everyone is back, but not together – Speaking to IGN, “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler teased the idea that, after three years of individual success, the members of the Parks Department might not be as close as they once were.
“That jump gave us the comedic opportunity to change what people are doing, who they’re with, who’s together, who’s not. So when you come back in this last season, there are some people that haven’t kept in contact. It’s very interesting," she said.
6. Ann and Chris – After Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe departed the show midway through Season 6, “Parks and Rec” fans thought they’d seen the last of the most positive man in the world and… Ann. However, now that the show is finishing things off with one last season, TV Line confirmed that the duo will return for at least one episode. Sure fans would like to see them around the whole time, but this is still litrully the best news they could hope for.
7. Secondary characters galore – Sure Pawnee is home to a principal cast, but the show would be nothing without the crazy secondary characters that have made it so outrageous. It looks like Season 7 will do its best to make sure that everyone from Perd Hapley to Joan Callamezzo will have their moment in the sun. A teaser for the season premiere shows Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser) get into a relationship with Ron’s ex-wife Tammy (Megan Mullally). Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly reports that “Ant-Man” star Paul Rudd will reprise his role as the witless Bobby Newport for Season 7. Even Jon Hamm will be back for crying out loud!
8. Where were they going? – The Season 6 finale ended its shocking time jump with Ben wearing a tux and Leslie stressed about some kind of media scandal. At the time, it felt like it was the show’s way of saying that the characters are still, as fans to love to see them, in the weeds battling to do good for their community. However, Season 7 appears to pick up moments after the elevator doors closed on everyone’s favorite sitcom power couple. Be prepared to have all of your questions answered.
“Parks and Recreation” premieres the first two episodes of its final season Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.