’30 Rock’ Recap: Gentleman’s Intermission

S5:E6 While this season of 30 Rock has failed to achieve the uncanny perfection of the show’s first few seasons, it never ceases to amuse and give us more of the characters we all love and constantly cringe at. This episode was no different, playing on Liz’s inability to solve her own problems, Jack’s need to have someone who constantly looks up to and depends on him, and Tracy’s and Jenna’s incredible self-centered insanity.

The main crux of the episode is Jack and Liz’s relationship. Avery makes a long overdue actual appearance on the show and she’s not happy about Jack’s relationship with Liz. But Jack explains that he seeks Drive, Intelligence, Humility, Chaos (or DIHC, pronounced “dick”) in a mentee (Liz), when he says, “I’m looking for DIHC, and I’ll take it anywhere I can find it.” Dick jokes never get old. Avery’s not convinced and she says Liz needs to graduate just as a hormone mood swing approaches – she announces it like the Hulk and throws everything off the table before throwing a bowl of whipped cream at Jack’s face. Got the message Donaghy?

But as always, Liz has another unsolvable problem. Her dad is coming to town without her mother. At first Liz is excited, her “Cooking for One” class was canceled due to the teacher’s suicide, so she’s totally free all week – plus she can finally show that ol’ doorman that she does to have friends. Neener, neener. Only Liz Lemon could outshine her own teacher’s suicide with her own issues.

Meanwhile, the crazies are getting all riled up over obituaries. While Kenneth gives a tour of the editing room he sees Tracy’s obit pop up on one of the monitors, but when he breaks down another page lets him know that NBC News pre-records obit for important people and they are just updating Tracy’s. Of course Kenneth wants to show Tracy the tape, and while I thought the tape was illuminating (okay, it was just hilarious Tracy madness), Tracy thinks that his status as a nine-time “Worst Representation of a Black Man” winner and the record holder for the most FCC fines are probably not a good thing. As he storms out, Jenna rushes in and learns about the obit policy, of course now she wants to see hers too.

Lemon goes to Jack’s office to get advice about her dad, but he drops the Avery bomb. They’ll have to dissolve their personal relationship. Avery’s especially threatened because she’s put on additional “boob weight” that causes her to fall over. (Like a Barbie? Yeah, we can all relate to that, right ladies? Yeah, I didn’t think so.) With that, Liz is forced to solve her own problems. This is not going to be pretty.

Liz’s dad arrives at her apartment sans glasses and plus an Ed Hardy shirt. (Okay, and is he planning to fist pump with Pauly D and The Situation later? Not a good look, Mr. Lemon.) It turns out Papa Lemon told Mama Lemon that he was off to a colonoscopy, but really the perfect couple (Buzz Aldrin be damned) is having trouble in paradise. Liz cuts the crap, calling out her dad for making up marital problems so that he can pick up women in the city. She says he can’t stay at her apartment for his “gentleman’s intermission.” He goes to stay at his friend’s place – his late wife’s hospital bed is still in his apartment, so he can sleep there after they do a push-up and hit up a bar called “Swingles.” Yuck.

Liz calls Jack to get some advice, but Avery answers. Ruh-roh. Liz tells her what the deal is and Avery gets catty, pointing out that Liz shouldn’t be talking about these things with her boss. It was only a matter of time before Jack and Liz’s odd BFF relationship caused an issue with his lady friend.

With Lemon out, Jack is looking for a new mentee, and he’s finally giving Jonathan a chance. (I think the poor kid got so excited he almost passed out.) Jack asks Jonathan to cut Jack’s pinky and take it to his lawyer in order to begin the process, but he won’t do it. “You won’t be perfect anymore!” He’s out. Then Jack lends him some “fatherly” advice, “Ambition is the willingness to kill the ones you love and eat them to stay alive.” Duh, assistant-boy, it’s on his throw pillow. Pay attention, why dontcha. The kid has failed the first rule of DIHC – Drive.

Jack finds Tracy sitting in his “sadness spotlight” and Tracy confesses that he saw his obit and he didn’t like what he saw. Jack is surprised and says, “Don’t you ever Google yourself?” Apparently, Tracy thinks that sounds just as dirty as I always have – flashback to the day before when Liz was super cool about him “Googling himself” in her office. With that, Jack realizes that Tracy can be his new mentee. He decides that he’s going to help Tracy “change his headline,” but Tracy rejects Jack’s help saying he doesn’t need him. Jack hangs his head because Tracy has failed the test of humility. (But what about the intelligence part? Did he really pass that part? Come on.)

Of course, just as I suspected, Jenna isn’t on the list of NBC News’ “important people” – but Kim Jong il is (and Jenna’s never even heard of “her”). Someone should have put her on the list just to avoid any insanity that this sort of slight is sure to bring. Jenna’s taking her obit issue to Jack, and he realizes that maybe she could be his new mentee (Dr. Drew called her “unfixable” so she could just be the Everest of mentees). He helps her try to figure out why Tracy gets an obit and she doesn’t (he’s got all those multi-million dollar movies and the only all-Giraffe basketball team, the New York Necks), of course Jenna thinks the problem is NBC News, not her accomplishments. Jack dismisses her, saying she’s failed the test of Intelligence (and humility! Hello! Seriously Jack, are you really going that batty without Lemon?).

Liz is trying to work out her problems without Jack’s help, theorizing out loud to Pete in the writer’s kitchen when Suri (who, by the way has been conspicuously missing all season) chimes in with her go-to old man repellent: asking them “Who’s older? Me or your daughter?” Lemon’s wheels are instantly turning, and she puts Suri’s advice into motion. She gussies herself up (but she kind of looks more like Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker) and goes to Swingles to take Suri’s “younger than your daughter” comment to a very awkward extreme. Her dad takes the bait and hits on her, calling himself part of the FBI (Female Body Inspectors) – further proof that men never grow out of these things. Liz reveals herself but the bar ends up turning on her instead of her dad. No “blammo” this time, Lemon.

Jenna and Tracy are still on their self-serving missions to improve their obits. Jenna is recording her own, complete with a 2010 death date and a song she writes and sings to herself. (It’s no “Candle in The Wind,” I can tell you that.) Tracy’s trying to change his headline, but he’s got no ideas. Just then, he hears a story about a heroic cat on The Today Show and decides he needs to save the heroic cat so he can be a double hero. (Math! It’s not just for numbers!)

Tracy’s enlisted Kenneth to attack the cat (with a hammer?! Kenneth, where is your brain?) so he can run in and save it, but as Kenneth runs off toward the cat, Tracy hears Anne Curry on The Today Show saying he should win the Oscar for his latest Indie film. He suddenly remembers that he left his son in Atlantic City (holy shit) and runs off, leaving Kenneth to terrorize the hero cat. Luckily (for her, we all know that while Kenneth would slaughter a pig in a second, he wouldn’t hit a little kitty), Jenna shows up just in time to take Tracy’s set up, smacking Kenneth on the head with a fire extinguisher and claiming the double hero credit. It’s cool, you can just “pour jewels” in her coffin when she dies.

Jack calls Avery in, trying to use her as his new mentee. She spots it immediately, and makes her case for having her life together (her closet has been on the cover of Organized Monthly…twice). Of course she fails the final, most crucial test of Chaos. He says he can’t find anyone else to mentor, “Lemon has just the right amount of DIHC for me.” (That’s what she said?) He says he needs Lemon because the younger generation just isn’t cutting it – just ask the hipster in a suit who won’t cut his hair and BT-Dubs, his Ironic Kickball League is practicing later. That’s so on-point it hurts.

Avery calls Liz back to Jack’s office, finally understanding that Jack and Liz need each other – it’s a symbiotic relationship. (And boy does Liz need Jack, she confesses she’s wearing a Duane Reade bag as underwear. Gross, even for Liz.) Avery’s briefed Jack on Liz’s problem, and Jack makes a threatening phone call to Liz’s dad and Bronxes it up pretending to yell at him for hooking up with his girlfriend. Liz’s rushes to pack up and run back to his loving wife as he listens to Jack’s threats through his ancient cell phone (seriously, Papa Lemon, my great grandpa even has a better phone than that). Jack and Lemon share a smile and all is well again as Liz asks Jack to look at some “weird thing” on her leg. Ah, friendship.