’30 Rock’ Recap: College

S5:E7 As outlandish as 30 Rock can be, sometimes the zaniness is so crazy it wraps back around and functions as real life advice. This is one of those times. Liz is having trouble realizing that she’s not the popular girl and Jack suffers an identity crisis as his time as the head of GE comes to a close and to make matters worse, the crew discovers his voice has been sold to Pronouncify.com.

Liz is running behind again, and Tracy and Jenna aren’t helping. The crew is participating in a lottery, Liz buys one, but Jenna informs her the game is not for “soft-hands and face-workers” and that the crew will get upset if she wins. Of course she’s not worried. She goes back to the writer’s room where Toofer is being deservedly punished for being douchey. He’s insisting on pronouncing “schedule” like the British, but Frank check the pronunciation online. Not only is Toofer wrong, but they find that Jack’s voice is on the online dictionary. What the what? Frank types in a typical Jack phrase, “Lemon, Lesbian Frankenstein wants her shoes back.” Yup, that seals it.

She goes to see Jack, who’s waxing poetic on NBC’s shift to Kabletown from GE, and drops the Pronouncify.com bomb. Apparently Jack participated in a paid experiment at Princeton where he recorded every word in the dictionary to preserve the best American accent in case of nuclear war. Oh, of course. Since then, Princeton has been selling his voice, even for a WuTang Clan song. Ghostface would not approve. This of course reminds Jack that he started out poor – he worked hard to become a rich snob, which isn’t as refreshing as you’d think. Because he had to work so hard, he missed the college experience, but of course Liz says he’s not missing much as she recounts the single fortnight in college when she was popular. Defeated, Liz takes to staring wistfully from Jack’s visitors’ thoughtful window-staring spot as he stares wistfully from his own window staring-spot.

The crew announces the winner of the lottery and of course it’s Liz; we all saw that coming. She sidesteps the anger and offers to use the money to open a tab and their favorite bar. Cute crew guy approves…do I sense a competitor for Carol? (Maybe Liz’s wishful thinking is getting to me.) But then they all get drunk at lunch and have trouble getting to work, but at least they love her, right?

Jack’s upset that GE’s microwave division is having its best quarter without him, and Liz of course responds that he hired everyone in the department so he deserves the success. This of course gives Jack an idea; he thinks if he congratulates the department that they’ll sing his praises. Sounds pretty damn delusional to me.

The writers tease Jack with his audio likeness, using Pronouncify.com to make him say nice things about Obama. (How dare they?) But that’s the last straw, he and his ego blast back at the scribes and storm out. This of course gives them an idea…maybe they can use the site to make Jack say whatever they want to someone else: Pete. They use the site to call Pete and set up a fake friendship with Jack – one that results in some serious TMI and Pete’s spastically awkward white guy rapping. I’d feel sorry for him, but I know that scene must have been so fun for Scott Adsit to shoot, so it’s cool.

Meanwhile, Liz is enjoying her momentary relapse of popularity, awkwardly fist-bumping (she’s never done it before, guys!) and trying desperately (and I mean desperately) to keep the mojo going. Jenna and Tracy tell her it won’t last, soon she’ll be back to playing the authority role. She’s not willing to let go yet, and when she finds out the alcoholics were left out of Liz’s bar tab gift she puts together a last-minute ice cream bar to keep them happy. But that only works until the one alcoholic and lactose intolerant guy says Liz’s gifts just made him feel terrible. But she’s got a fix for that too! She takes off her grandfather’s watch and hands it to him and starts her own victory chant: Liz-ard, Liz-ard, Liz-ard. Wow, Lemon. That’s desperate. Not to mention, Liz-ard? That’s what you chose? I liked “B-Liz-bian” better.

Jack follows through with his self-indulgent plan, and walks into the GE microwave lab to congratulate his workers. After they attempt to kick him out because he doesn’t have clearance to be in the lab, he finally realizes that the three guys in the lab aren’t the people he hired – but he only notices because their nametags are different. Wow, you really switched gears when you became rich, didn’t you Jack? In his anger – and with the realization that the engineers are using his audio recordings to make the microwave speak – he seizes the microwave so he can run a few rigorous (and delusional) tests. Despite the fact that Kenneth manages to say something incredibly insightful about Jack’s inability to let go, Jack dismisses him rather scathingly and requires him to run dangerous tests on the microwave. (Harsh, Jack. You don’t have to be such a dick.)

Back in the writer’s room, virtual Jack sets up a man-date with Pete. He promises to make his dreams come true if he comes up to his office with canned beers, a Mexican poncho, and his guitar so they “can jam.” Oh Pete, why are you so gullible? Lutz is feeling guilty and runs to his office mommy, Liz, and tells her the prank is going too far. But Liz is still trying to be the cool guy, and Lutz throws a tantrum because someone has to be the authority and he can’t take it.

Jack’s encounter with Kenneth has only increased his delusion, so he storms back into the microwave lab and shoves the rain-soaked, malfunctioning microwave in the engineers’ faces. As he starts his tirade, the microwave continues to malfunction shouting “Stop” “Over” “Done.” The microwave accomplishes was Kenneth couldn’t and shows Jack that it’s time to let go, so he bows out… sort of gracefully.

Because Liz refuses to be the R.A. (resident advisor, it’s a college thing), the writers’ prank reaches fruition and Jack returns to his office to see Pete in a poncho, with a guitar and some brewskis. Actually, after the day Jack’s had, he’s actually stoked to sit with Pete and get grungy with Pete like the college experience he never had. He and Pete get down to “Aqualung” and throw back cheap beers and discuss the whole “colors are different to different people” theory. Yep, that’s college.

On set, Liz’s luck is running out. The watch she gave the lactose intolerant crew member has “Not stolen property of Adolf Lemon” engraved on it – whoops. And yikes, Liz’s grandpa was a pickpocket and he shared a name with Hitler? Liz finally admits she’s not the cool kid, and when they all yell “You suck” at her, she accepts it and lays down the law. She lays down the law hard. (And I just excited way too many Liz Lemon-philes out there.) After she loses it, she joins Jack and Pete in their collegefest and offers to shotgun a beer – yep, nerd seeking approval is totally college.

The tag pays homage to Animal House and gives us way too much information about Liz’s health issues, but at least it gives Jack his college-kick.