NBC presented two back to back episodes of Parks and Recreation this Thursday to end the season. While they were presented as two parts, they were actually stand alone episodes that had little to do with each other. This review is only about the first half hour, "The Bubble."
In "The Bubble," Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) try to enjoy their secret relationship, but it is complicated when Ben meets Leslie's mother, Marlene (Pamela Reed, United States of Tara). At first, Marlene does not like Ben at all, thinking he is too much of a push over. After Leslie coaches Ben, he not only reverses Marlene's impression, but actually attracts her advances. At the same time, Chris (Rob Lowe) drastically reorganizes the parks department, giving everyone a lot more responsibility.
Ben and Leslie cannot keep sneaking around forever. While it may be exciting to them now, it could seriously hurt both of their careers. While Chris mostly appears nice in previous episodes, he proves he can easily put business first when necessary in "The Bubble." As such, they cannot expect leniency when Chris finds out about the two of them, and eventually, he will find out.
That being said, the story with Marlene is very funny. Leslie and her mother are far more alike than either will admit, and by Leslie coaching Ben, he becomes more attractive to both women. Leslie and her mother have been shown to clash, but they do care about each other, and Marlene shows real love when she approves of Leslie's relationship. Ben earns her respect, and as far as Leslie's family is concerned, the two are free to have a future.
Chris clearly has just been waiting all of this time to settle in before making the big changes. In "The Bubble," the waiting is over. Chris is hired by Pawnee to do a job, so it is hard to blame him for trying to make the parks department more efficient. He manages to remain a likeable character while affirming he is not a new friend, but actually in charge of the others.