They just couldn't take it any longer. Leslie's and Ron's teams had endured years of rancor between their bosses. The department heads were once the closest of allies, friends and waffle partners - but since the incident around Morningstar, they've been effectively dead to each other. Ben, April, Andy and Terry suffered the deep freeze, as did Ron's staffers Tom and Donna. The battle over the Newport land brought the long-standing feud into an impossible focus. A simple notary co-signing was the straw that broke the camel's back. Something must be done.
Leave it to Ben Wyatt to hatch a plan to force Ron and Leslie to work it out. He coaxes Leslie to Ron's office to sign the city's point of sale document. As soon as Leslie is safely inside the office, Ben triggers a card key lock. Ron and Leslie are shut inside until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. He and the others have taken their bosses' key cards and phones; there is no telephone or internet service; and security has been instructed to ignore them, no matter how hard they plead. The two staffs explain that Ron and Leslie have done this to themselves.
Ron tries to Jedi mind-trick Terry into opening the door, but April steps in. The staffs walk off, leaving an angry Ron and Leslie. Ron threatens to punch his way out by smashing a window, but Leslie notes that it's reinforced with wire mesh. "I'd rather bleed out than talk about my feelings with you for the next 10 hours," Ron tells Leslie. She hits on the baby monitor that Ben left them: they could just make up a story that they've reconciled and Ben will come get them. But they can't agree on a plausible story and in a spiteful moment Leslie smashes the baby monitor to the floor. It's going to be a long night.
Leslie tries to coax Ron into talking, torturing him with any number of ploys: dripping water on his mustache, covering him with Post-its, playing music and singing nonsense lyrics. Finally Ron relents: he will talk to Leslie for three minutes. He starts his watch and Leslie turns to a prepared chart on a whiteboard. She tries to deconstruct where their friendship went off the rails. She notes the date on which she accepts the National Parks job, followed by the day she hires April and the subsequent party thrown for her. Three months later, Ron visits Leslie in her new office for the first time. They set a lunch date for the next day, then Leslie is called out of town for work. Leslie returns a week later to learn secondhand that Ron has quit the city to start his own building company. Their relationship has been in a deep freeze ever since. He won't even acknowledge that they were ever friends, merely "workplace proximity associates."
And Morningstar made it all worse. Leslie recalls the name with venom on her breath, recounting Morningstar as a multi-unit residential development spearheaded by Ron's new company, Very Good Building and Development. The project sits next to Pawnee Commons, the local park Leslie fought to build. Making matters worse, the project required razing Ann and Chris' old house, a home with incredible sentimental value. Pushing it through the city for development was the final twist of the knife, Leslie tells Ron.
Ron explains that people need places to live and that Leslie's park made the location attractive. Leslie wants none of it and goes on to complain that Ron has gutted zoning laws and ramrodded projects through ever since. Ron replies, "That's not the whole story of why I left the city job." Tantalized, Leslie feels a breakthrough is imminent. But Ron notes that the three minutes is up, then bolts for his old office, locks the door and draws the shades. He plans to ride it out.
Leslie tries to figure out if it's something she's done. She quizzes Ron about a litany of potential sins she's committed against him. Finally he storms out of his office, scrambling through boxes to find the partially defused Claymore land mine Leslie gave him for a work anniversary. He sets the munition against an exit door, yells "fire in the hole!" and pushes the detonator. Poof! A tiny explosion fires confetti across the room, followed by music and the filling of a celebratory balloon. Ron is disgusted and shuts himself in his old office again.
Leslie starts unearthing files on all sorts of projects, searching for a clue as to why Ron turned on her. She even finds her original job application - including Ron's initial observations and review of her:
"Leslie Knope is an absurd idealist whose political leaning are slightly to the left of Leon Trotsky. If we were to work together she would undoubtedly drive me insane and it is possible that we would murder each other."
The two then pause to reflect on the review's last sentence: "Hire her."
Leslie presses Ron: why did he hire her? He recounts that in the interview he asked a final question about the role of government, a question that had Leslie launching into a lengthy, impassioned response, which Ron dismissed as nonsense, setting off a fiery tirade from Leslie. It was the tough passion of that tirade that tipped the scales, Ron explains, adding that her homemade apology brownies sealed the deal.
It looks like the old friends might be reconciling. Leslie probes deeper, trying to guess why Ron still harbors such hatred. But her approach backfires and Ron can take it no more. He rushes to the wall and pulls the fire alarm, setting off the sprinklers and dousing them both. Leslie explains that the alarms only trigger the sprinklers, not the fire department, since April had been abusing the system. They're both soaked.
A few minutes later, Leslie's dried off and jumped into a pair of sweats, while Ron emerges wearing a bright yellow yoga outfit, courtesy of Craig. Still looking for a way in, Leslie unearths an old photo of her and Ron standing before Li'l Sebastian. "What happened to these workplace proximity associates?" she asks. Finally, they break out a bottle of scotch and Ron begins to open up.
He explains that the first blows struck when Leslie left, followed by Larry and then April. Eventually Tom and Donna left to start their own businesses. "I looked up one day and realized I didn't recognize anyone. So I made a decision, an unthinkable decision."
Ron recounts coming upstairs to Leslie's office to arrange a lunch date. They had agreed to meet the next day, but Leslie was unexpectedly called away to Washington for a meeting and neglected to reschedule their lunch date. At first Leslie thinks it was because she stood Ron up at J.J.'s diner that he ended their friendship, but the truth is far darker.
He goes on. Deserted by his work family, Ron reveals that he felt so isolated and alone that he actually went to Leslie to ask for a job in the federal government! His voice quavers as he confesses. "Just saying it out loud feels dirty," he reveals to Leslie with a grimace. Ron tells Leslie he's sorry for the way he treated her afterward. He knew his time in government was over but regrets the way he handled it.
Their old wounds exposed and now quickly healing, Leslie and Ron revive some of the old magic, drinking, playing office games and redecorating the Parks office in a semblance of its former glory. When 8:00 a.m. rolls around and Ben and company show up to unlock the offices, they're struck by the sight of two drunk old friends having a ball. Prancing around the office, Leslie sings karaoke while Ron accompanies her on saxophone. It's a sight for sore eyes.
The next day, Leslie is wildly hungover at her desk. April pops in to explain that she's moved Leslie's meetings for the day - and to announce a visitor. Ron, looking no worse for wear, walks through the door and immediately receives a huge hug from Leslie. He's come bearing a thoughtful gift: he's framed the photo of Leslie, Ron and Li'l Sebastian. Ron explains that he made the frame from the old front door of Ann's old house, waiting for the day they'd reconcile. Leslie's touched and insists that she take them to J.J.'s for a mid-afternoon breakfast. All is right in Pawnee at last.