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To preface this article, we’d like to mention there will be spoilers for this week’s Parks and Recreation episode “Halloween Surprise,” so you shouldn’t keep reading if you haven’t watched it yet. And if you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and remedy that immediately, because “Halloween Surprise” is definitely the best episode this season.
With that being said, let’s all take a moment to soak in the glory of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt’s (Adam Scott) long hoped for engagement. It seems as though Ben’s arc in Washington, D.C., has come to a close, and he’ll be returning to Pawnee instead of working on another political campaign.
In light of that major news, Poehler, Scott and showrunner Michael Schur held a conference call to discuss what a Leslie/Ben wedding means for the show. Apparently this is something that’s been in the works for a while, and Poehler said she’s glad the finished product was as effective as it was on the page.
“When I read that scene, I cried because I was so happy that I had my job,” she said with a laugh. “I knew it would be great, and it’s very rare as an actor when you read a scene it’s going to be great. I was really excited that we were going to get to do it because I was really excited we were getting to do it, because I was just happy for Leslie.”
But just because Ben popped the question — and, yes, the box he used was the same one he had when he presented Leslie with that Knope 2012 pin — doesn’t mean there will be a Parks & Rec wedding this season. Schur was intentionally vague when a reporter asked him that question.
“It’s part of the show’s DNA to try to not telegraph where we’re going,” he said. “There’s a certain kind of playbook that you’re told to run or that you’ve learned how to run by watching TV shows and we try to just do things that are surprising.”
Schur continued, “I would like to believe that the path that we’re choosing to take will be satisfying but also surprising to people.”
Even without a wedding, the proposal will impact the rest of the Parks and Recreation department. Poehler promised that Leslie will include everyone in different ways, and that not all of her friends will respond in the way we expect.
“Everyone’s reacting to it in different ways and being included with it in different ways,” she said. “It’s fun to kind of think about how Leslie’s going to deal with the planning of it and there’s surprises in how everybody deals with it and talks about it.”
Schur said that the proposal was a long time coming, and that we won’t see Leslie turn into a “bridezilla.” He called the engagement a “watershed” moment for the characters because, after Ben was introduced in the penultimate episode of Season 2, it became “pretty clear pretty quickly they were soulmates.” Schur emphasized that a wedding won’t change the tone or core of the show.
In next week’s episode, appropriately titled “Ben’s Parents,” we’ll get to meet Glenne Headly and Jonathan Banks as Ben’s mother and father. Poehler called the episode a “rare peek” into Ben’s life and family, and promised that it’s “a bad mix.”
Schur also teased that “Ben’s Parents” will be the first time we see Ben Schwartz’s fan-favorite character Jean-Ralphio this season. He’ll be back to help Tom (Aziz Ansari) with his new business idea.
Speaking of recurring characters, Schur also confirmed that the new story arc between Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and Diane Lewis (Lucy Lawless) is one that’s going to be followed for a while. Finding Ron the right woman has been something Schur had been trying to do for years, and when Lawless’s schedule finally opened up, he jumped at the opportunity to have her on the show.
“I think he’s a man and it was important for us to create an episode where he realized that it’s just as important in the world of manliness to apologize when you did something wrong as it is to chop wood or cook a steak or something,” Schur said of their relationship developments during “Halloween Surprise.” “He’s found a woman who’s important enough to him that he has to make a couple adjustments.”
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.