TV Review: 30 Rock Season 7 Episodes 12 and 13
So I thought there were 2 episodes of 30 Rock left.
As in, like, 2 more weeks of 30 Rock. I didn’t realise it’d be a double episode.
Needless to say, I was not emotionally prepared enough for 30 Rock to be over.
My heart hurts. And I think (hope?) it’s not just the cholesterol.
TL;DR Weak plots from Tracy and Kenneth bring things down, but Jack and Liz reach a crucial conclusion about their relationship in this penultimate episode.
Dat tension. Dat heartache.
So Liz has got her kids and working husband now, so is going a bit stir crazy at home. TGS is gone, so she channels her energy into chatrooms for mothers. Liberal-elite preaching ensues. After failing to pitch a new show to Kenneth, she goes to Jack for help, only for him to deny her. Because while Liz has been wasting at home, Jack has been trying furiously to achieve happiness (thanks, Colleen). Despite totally nailing every part of his life (including Nancy and Elisa. Nice), he ultimately decides to resign and abandon Liz. They accuse each other of ruining their lives (Jack by telling Liz work would make her happy when it didn’t, Liz by poisoning Jack with “emotion”). Meanwhile, Tracy struggles to live without Kenneth around to do stuff for him. And Jenna has a progression of career moves that don’t work out.
I really wanted to give 30 Rock an easy pass for these last 2 episodes, and I kinda will. But there are 2 elements of this story which have been covered before.
Liz going nuts from being away from work was already covered in detail in the season 3 episode where she’s put on temporary leave for sexual harrassment. And Tracy going crazy without Kenneth was covered in the season 5 opener following Kenneth’s firing in the season 4 finale.
They are a little different this time around, but still. Did they think we wouldn’t notice?
I’m not gonna drop a bomb on the whole parade over it, but it’s pretty lousy.
Why I hate this episode:
No, not today. Not this time. I don’t want to farewell 30 Rock with bad blood.
I’ll just say that the Tracy and Kenneth sub plot is boring. Mainly because I’ve always hated Tracy for taking in-universe attention and screentime away from Jenna. And I hate Kenneth because of Hazel, obv.
Reasons to watch:
The scene near the end where Jack and Liz bitch each other out for what they’ve done to their lives is truly heartbreaking. And they’ve both got a point, too. That’s good writing.
Nancy and Elisa cameo briefly to have sex with Jack. There is nothing not to love about this. It’s a shame they didn’t get Edie Falco or Emily Mortimer back, too. Oh well.
Jenna’s subplot is the most enjoyable. Now that she’s done with comedy, she proudly declares her dedication to dramatic roles and tells the writers to go fuck themselves. Her episode of Law & Order SVU where she’s playing a dead body doesn’t go well, so she swears off TV and heads to LA to exclusively do movies. She lands in LA and sees only beautiful, young women there, so she immediately returns to tell the writers she’s going to Broadway. Again with another creative insult. Jenna is perfection. If you hadn’t realised yet.
She gets best line (fuckin’ naturally) with this proclamation upon arriving on the SVU set: “I am just so glad to finally return to my 2 loves: dramatic acting and sex crimes.” Pure. Classic. Smooth.
Liz’s interactions in the chatroom are pretty lulzworthy. Liberal zealots are almost easier to target than conservative crazies. Liz also ends up getting into an argument with a “mum” and setting up an IRL fight. This turns out to be Criss. I lol’d.
Liz mentions “night cheese” when she’s telling Jack about how she used to be happy. Night cheese is happiness. If you haven’t tried it, you should, dear reader.
And the opening scene where Liz sends her kids and husband off to their day was genuine squee. Shut up.
TL;DR I hated the lunch plot just because, like, what the fuck is it doing clogging up my series fucking finale? But apart from that, 30 Rock goes out with a quiet, intelligent bang.
Just like it should have.
The plot splits itself between Jack trying to reconcile with Liz and, bizarrely, a mostly stock-standard caper plot involving Lutz not relinquishing his control over the final paid lunch for the TGS staff. After their falling out last episode, Jack tries several times to reconcile with Liz, who refuses to speak to him. He eventually tricks her into thinking he’s committing suicide (just so she’ll see him. So Jack) and declares he’s going sailing. He and Liz do get it together and he sets out. Only to be suddenly struck by an idea for transparent dishwashers and regain his passion for business. Liz’s plot follows her organising a finale episode of TGS (ordered by Kenneth so a clause in Tracy’s contract won’t cause NBC to pay him $30 million). She has to chase down Tracy who is afraid of saying goodbye. Hard realities and emotions ensue. Jenna has landed a role in the Broadway adaptation of The Rural Juror and Kenneth wants her to perform a song for TGS. But to show genuine emotion. She fucking does.
Then we get a 1 year later epilogue, which shows:
Liz: running Grizz’s sitcom and staying in touch with Tracy and Jack.
Jack: crushing his corporate career.
Tracy: his dad finally came back from “buying cigarettes.”
Jenna: tries to steal a Tony award and flashes the audience when she’s foiled.
And then we get an even further epilogue where the confirmed-immortal Kenneth hears a pitch from Liz’s great granddaughter for a show based on Liz’s stories about 30 Rock. He loves it.
I would have loved an extravagant, eyeball-popping, absolutely monumental finale. But that’s not what 30 Rock is about. It’s always been clever and understated. Confident in its abilities but appreciative and inviting to its audience. This finale is exactly what it needed.
Why I hate this episode:
I don’t. I really, truly don’t.
But I have a duty to uphold. The only thing really wrong with it is that stupid lunch subplot. It’s more of a showcase for Lutz than anything, and they shouldn’t have wasted screentime in the final episode of 30 Rock ever on goddamn Lutz. Fuck.
Also, it would have been kinda amazing to have an extravagant, eyeball-popping, absolutely monumental finale. C’est la vie.
Reasons to watch:
Liz and Jack finally say “I love you” to each other. Well, Liz does. She spares Jack from having to say the words, but he was making the point. Incredible.
Liz eventually tracks Tracy down at the strip club they met at in the pilot. Continuity matters, people.
Her conversation with him also displays how unique 30 Rock’s approach is to this finale. Liz outright admits that after TGS is done, she and Tracy won’t see each other. She didn’t enjoy working with him: he was difficult and they have little in common. But she acknowledges that she will still miss him. And in the epilogue, even though they still speak, she turns out to be basically right. 30 Rock can nail reality when it wants to.
Pete has a subplot about faking his own death (he sees this as a smarter alternative to suicide), which he eventually carries out. The epilogue shows Paula catching up with him. I lol’d.
The Lutz/lunch plot had its moments. Lutz finally gets everyone back. And even after it looks like Liz has defeated him and ordered awesome sushi for everyone, Lutz falls out of the air vent he was escaping through and ruins the food. If you’re gonna waste time on a stupid subplot, you gotta commit. They did.
Jack’s voyage is hilariously shortlived. Excellent subversion of what you would expect following a meaningful reconciliation.
Kathy Geiss cameos. Fuck yeah.
Best line goes to Liz, when she thinks Jack is dead: “He killed himself because of me. This is like what happened with my gynecologist all over again!” It’s about time we got a Liz’s vagina joke.
Jenna gets second best after Kenneth asks her to perform honestly: “Real emotion? That’s not really my thing.” I feel ya.
Speaking of Jenna, she goes to make one of her famous “like the time Mickey Rourke…” jokes, then stops midway, looks into the camera, and admits she’s never even met Mickey Rourke. Meta quota: filled.
Oh, and the real tearjerker of the episode comes during Jenna’s performance of her Rural Juror song on the final TGS episode. Either Jane Krakowski is the most talented actress in the history of the world to pull off this level of cry-singing, or she really, really was. If my usually parched tearducts were any indication, it was all real. This is real. 30 Rock is over. What light is there left in my life?