[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday's episode of Parks and Recreation. Read at your own risk!]
Surprise, surprise! Leslie Knope has been recalled from office!
Parks and Recreation shocked viewers on Thursday night after ousting Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) from office, not a route fans would've expected the show to go after the NBC comedy worked so hard to make her a city councilwoman. In fact, even the writers hadn't initially planned on it.
"We didn't specifically have a plan to have her win [the initial election]," executive producer Mike Schur says. "We got her recalled in the finale last year and then the writers spent the 10 weeks leading up to the shooting just talking about the options, and it just seemed like the best, juiciest option. Once we committed to having a recall, it was like, 'Well, if she wins the recall vote, then she's just back where she was before.' The more exciting and interesting thing seemed to be to boot her out."
Suffice it to say, Leslie will not handle the recall decision very well. With 30 days left in office, the 100th episode will actually focus on Leslie's final hours in office. "There's a lot of comedy coming up, and we had a lot of fun with what she does as a dead man walking or as a lame duck, so to speak," Poehler says.
"The next two episodes are largely about Leslie with a massive ticking clock on her career and trying desperately to jam through some last-second [stuff]," Schur adds. "It's largely about how she tries to finish off her career as a city councilor."
After the 100th, Parks will be moving away from stories that include the city council, though the result of who succeeds Leslie will soon be uncovered. It should come as no surprise that Leslie's Eagletonian doppelgänger Ingrid de Forest is a likely candidate to take her place since Kristen Bell, who portrays her, is slated to appear in at least one more episode.
Even though Parks hadn't planned on ousting Leslie initially, Schur said it was hard to ignore their original plan for the show. "We talked a lot about the long term story of the character being fighting the tide of cynicism, and you can't tell that story if everything is going great," Schur says. "If nothing challenging is happening in her life, if her best friend doesn't leave town or if she gets elected to office and just everything she wants to accomplish, she's very easily able to accomplish, then you can't really tell the story of how to stem the tide of cynicism, so occasionally we have to knock her around a little bit."
Moving forward, Leslie will be trying to find what's next for her career besides working in the Parks Department. "She seeks out a bunch of different possibilities for her life," Schur says and notes she'll seek advice from several co-workers, including Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). "Certain things present themselves to her," he continues. "She just never stops moving. She's a shark and never stops moving and eventually she's going to figure out a path that makes sense to her." Anyone else thinking she could fill the vacant City Manager position when Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ann (Rashida Jones) leave town?
Parks and Recreation airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.