“And I know something about suffering because I work out a lot. I think we have a clip.”
Season finales are a lauded bunch, sometimes hanging viewers over a cliff in anticipation for the next season. Who shot Mr. Burns? Did George really kill Susan? Is Diane getting engaged to Frasier? Did Sofie really resurrect Brother Justin? Wait, what do you mean Carnivale still isn’t back on the air? Nick Stahl is missing? What is this world coming to?
In and of themselves, each of those questions is arguably more exciting than anything happening tonight on 30 Rock, which has its own Cheers reference, and ends with its own set of questions. The majority of the plot concerns Jack and Avery using Liz as an officiator for their vow renewal. The stakes are never raised higher than “peeking over the back of the couch” level, however, and all extraneous plotlines are pretty shallow, and everything ends in expected territory. And we’ll use that as a guide here.
Liz is okay with having a baby, finally.
Criss is still insisting he can succeed at hot dog vending, in the vehicle he now calls Van Der Beek, despite never having seen Dawson’s Creek. Liz still insists she won’t bail on him if he can’t. After all, she still watches Smash. As Criss is indeed failing as a hot dog vendor, promoting 100% pork artisanal hot dogs to a mostly Jewish crowd, Liz is busy on a playground set of TGS, comfortably daydreaming about different stations of life with Planty. Teaching the plant how to ride a bike and sending the plant off to college, among other moments. Seeing a news report about a bank robbery involving Van Der Beek, Liz, not realizing that Criss sold the van off for the $10,000 for house renovations, is still willing to stay by Criss’ side, even if he was a criminal. This is the revelation, along with actually using the word baby instead of plant, which assures her she will never bail on Criss. She seeks advice from Jack, who can only tell her she’ll be an excellent mother…so long as she follows his 25 Pillars of Motherhood. Rule 1: Don’t over think the name, as there will never be a President Ashton or a Dr. Katniss. I guess she’ll either be pregnant next season, or we’ll deal with the tribulations of attempted pregnancy. Or maybe, hopefully, they will just adopt Pete.
Jack and Avery agree on their marriage being a farce.
How many other couples can say they found truth in the pot of gold hidden at the end of the kidnapping Korean dictator rainbow? In a purely silly revelation, Jack figures out that Avery and Scott Scottsman have developed their own form of on-air Morse code signaled by finger tapping and hand movements, and that they use this code to share their mutual feelings. Meanwhile, Diana makes her feelings clear, calling the vow renewal tacky, and proceeds to get drunker than a skunk during the actual ceremony, which she intends to disrupt once Liz gets to the “Speak now or forever hold your peace” line. Scott also has plans to speak up just then. And so does Kim Jong Il, posing as a waiter; in fact, he’s the greatest waiter of all time.
Liz, who has also performed gay weddings after being ordained by “www.instaminister.estonia,” never gets interrupted though. Diana is passed out in her seat, grabbing her own boob. (A wonderfully depraved image.) Scott is shushed by his deaf girlfriend Theresa. And Kim Jong Il, in the end, just roots for the idea of love in general, and keeps his own mouth shut. All this non-opposition causes both Jack and Avery to question everyone else’s acceptance of their sham marriage, which only happened because she was pregnant. Now that they both realize this to be the truth, they can live on as parents without the necessity of marriage. Liz then pronounces them divorced. Enough of this soap opera business.
Tracy wants to be Tyler Perry.
The Journal of the Aryan Patriot Party celebrates Tracy as their Man of the Year, which is further proof to Grizz and Dot Com that he’s a bad representative for black people. His defending statement, that he is playing a lazy bottle of grape soda named Funky Bobo in Pixar’s next film about trash, does nothing to help the matter. They introduce Tracy to Dr. Cornel West, a philosopher of African American studies at Princeton, who advises Tracy to become the role model that he never had. (Tracy’s closest representative for role modeling was some black licorice he formed into the shape of his dad.) Tracy visits a civil rights museum, only to singularly enjoy seeing his own reflection in the glass on the Rosa Parks exhibit. (“Frederick Douglass? A man with two first names? Next.”) After applying a generic black grandmother voice to his image, he announces Tyler Perry is his role model, and that he’s going to start his own production company. (Which will no doubt put out shows like Scare Tactics, hosted by the most wooden Tracy Morgan ever.) So after a season of tagging onto other people’s stories, Tracy will assumedly spend next season making his own movies. It has potential.
Kenneth figures out Hazel is a conniving bitch, and then kisses her. Wait, what?
Hazel’s living situation is in flux, and after failing to get Liz to let her move in for a year, Kenneth allows her to stay with him. (The sight of Hazel washing her armpits with the office kitchen sponge will stay with me for a while. Don’t judge.) Hazel is initially sympathetic to Kenneth’s pains over not being accepted back into the Page program, but hints to Jenna that there are more devious things going on. Jenna discovers that Hazel sabotaged Kenneth’s Page application. When he confronts her, as she uses a boot as an ashtray, she kisses him and says she’s in love with him. He doesn’t believe her, but they make out some more anyway. This is a sight that left my mind as soon as I saw it. Gross. I don’t care to think about where this plot is going next year.
As with many 30 Rock episodes of late, the grand plot arcs are never as interesting as the specific details that fill them. I’m only half-pleased that the Criss-Liz relationship is working out, but I absolutely love that Liz is kissed and woken up every morning by a creepy old bald man who sneaks in and out of her window. Couldn’t have that if she was single. I love that the Yankee love is balanced by Yankee hate, such as Liz wanting to throw an A-Rod bobblehead in front of a train. “Go Phillies!” I love Jack’s story about George W. Bush’s boat, named Mr. Waterboat. “Did it sink? Yes, because it had too many people on it.” And I love the writers referencing Tracy’s growing stomach, by him saying he’s in between tuxes due to weight fluctuation. These and more are the reasons why, despite all my weekly complaining, this is one of the most rewatchable series in the history of television.
Only time will tell if I will be back later this year for recaps. It may have something to do with if Mary Steenburgen comes back or not. (I’m in favor of a Jessup-free seventh season, by the by.) Thanks for reading, thanks for watching, and above all, thanks for reading again.
There was something so cheerily awful about Avery having been held hostage in a replica of Cinderella’s castle built for a shoe collection, and that Scott was kept in a pit where he had to beat his best friend to death. I’m not sure why his best friend was out there with him. I wouldn’t mind more Scott Scottsman next year. I’m comfortable saying that.
Hazel’s obituary, in Jenna’s mind: “Least Famous Person Ever Dies.”
In a season that has already used Ikea as an incidental instrument of strife among couples, 30 Rock has now placed The Container Store as a cause for lesbian arguments. It’s sensible, as everything involved has a place for people to put something. (This was as unsexist a statement as any I could think of.)
Kenneth had two completely awful jokes tonight dealing with the word mean. “I don’t mean it. I nice it.” And after he changes his opinion on Hazel being a bitch, being as loyal as a female dog, to her being a meanypants. These writers walk a thin line sometimes.
“I played Avery Jessup in Kidnapped by Danger, now available on Sega Genesis.” Trying to go 16-bit over Community’s 8-bit, 30 Rock? Not well played, but still silly enough.
Tracy mistaking Dr. West for ?uestlove and West’s mention of Brother Jason Segal both made me smile. If only they could have gotten ?uestlove on the show for Tracy to mistake for Dr. West. And if only there were a whiter person in the universe than Jason Segal. Not that there aren’t enough white people…Damn now I’m sexist and racist. Might as well vote Republican this year.
Kenneth used to split his rent with an old wheelchair-bound woman in the closet. I dare not ask what became of her.
“….nor a non-sexually confused Lorne.” Great capper, for the umpteenth time a character breaks the fourth wall in this manner this season.
Another visually amazing moment was the last in the episode, which has Kim Jong Il pondering the characters’ fate next season. (He’s in favor of Jack and Liz getting together.) “Don’t overthink it writers, whoever you are.” And then we see it’s Il himself who does the writing. Then the Stephen J. Cannell parody of Il ripping the page from the typewriter and tossing it in the air, where we see it’s of an Asian baby in a flashy peacock costume. Fucking beautiful in every respect. I need that costume.