’30 Rock’ Recap: It’s Never Too Late For Now

S5E15: We all have our ways of dealing with breakups. Some of us buy pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (New York Super Fudge Chunk all the way, baby), some of us go through three boxes of tissues while watching Finding Nemo, some of us turn to a few glasses of scotch and a cute bartender but Liz Lemon does the Liz Lemonyist thing possible: she puts her hair in a chip clip, puts on a baggy sweatshirt, starts using a fucking FANNY PACK, and devotes her life to her new cat, Emily Dickinson.

While I’d like to say this was all just a little too cartoonish for my tastes, I can’t because a Liz Lemon cartooney episode isn’t just wacky and zany; it’s still smart under all of its surface funny. That’s exactly what last night’s 30 Rock was: a cartoonish romp anchored by smart, cohesive writing. Solid.

“I had three chances. Floyd, then Carol and I was once in an elevator with Tom Brokaw and I blew all three…opportunities!” –Liz

Now that Carol is out of her life, Liz Lemon is giving up. Now that’s the Liz we all know. She’s decided she’s had her chances and now she’s going to become a spinster – she even buys a cemetery plot and joins a book club for senior citizens. Whoa. I like the fact that they aren’t just ignoring the epic breakup this time around. Liz always seems to bounce back a little too well, and that’s the one complaint I have about her character. Lemon is a heroine for regular women and as such, she should be a fucking depressed wreck when something like this happens – of course, she has to do depressed the Liz Lemon way which is far more hilarious than how the rest of us would choose to deal.

“Also I’ve been taking these new Czechoslovakian organ-slimming pills. They contain a little bit of meth, which is something by body needs anyway.” -Jenna

As any good girlfriend would, Jenna makes Liz get out on the town to help her get past her decision to become a comatose, cat-loving spinster (seriously, she swaps a picture of Carol for a picture of Emily Dickinson, THE CAT). Liz comes up with an excuse about editing and decides not to go out, but when her editing tech gets sick suddenly and has to go home, she’s forced to take Jenna up on her offer. At the club, which is disturbingly catered to her outlandish venue needs, Liz finds that everything falls into place so easily. She meets a hot guy, they talk about the politics of STAR WARS, and then thanks to a bar fight they leave together and hook up. Woo, go Liz Lemon. The funny thing about this part is that a similar ease of post break-up flirtations is something that seems to happen in real life time and again, but this is 30 Rock so of course it’s not that simple.

“What this? I got hit by a bird on a rollercoaster.” –Lutz

Liz finally puts all the pieces together (because she’s been taking solace in old mystery movies now that she’s a spinster) when she sees Jack high-fiving all the writers after they congratulate her on her baby-pink sweatshirted walk of shame. She figures out the intricate way in which the whole plan was actually an elaborate ruse that placed a Swedish prostitute (recommended by Martha Stewart, yuck) in a fake bar with a cheatsheet of Liz’s interests, her previously stolen ID and twinkling eyes into a staged bar fight all so that Liz would hook up with him and feel better about her prospects. This whole unraveling of the plot that worked out far too easily reminded me a bit of How I Met Your Mother, but done in a decidedly 30 Rock fashion and it totally worked. While the TGS staff’s concern for Liz’s happiness reached disturbing levels, it’s something only 30 Rock can get away with and I love when they take advantage of that fact.

“It was nice negotiating with you and here is all of your money.” –Jack

Jack, being the celebrated business wiz that he is, is prepping for a big meeting with the Kabletown execs and he’s bragging about his top-notch negotiating skills. (Cue dig after dig at the new Comcast/NBC merger.) This whole notion gets tossed on its head when Jack tries to negotiate wages with his nanny while Avery is out of town (maternity leave, schmaternity leave). His nanny is rock solid, tearing Jack down and disabling his negotiating abilities. Liz helps him realize that this is because the nanny can hold the love of his daughter and the need for someone to take care of her over his head and that he’ll do anything to keep her there as someone to watch over Liddy. He eventually settles with the fact that he’ll have to pay the nanny more when he’s able to use her negotiating techniques (complete apathy – “So. Whatcha gonna do about it?”) to win his battle with Kabletown because like Liddy, NBC is a helpless baby that needs his care. BLAMMO.

I enjoyed this plot, but I wish they would have been more subtle about it. 30 Rock viewers are smart. We can see that this whole thing is unraveling Jack’s very being without him having to spell it out for us. Alright; complaining is over.

“Rock stars man. People screaming your name. Hot women throwing themselves at you.” –Pete

“Living on a bus.” –Frank

If Pete had to be a former member of any 80s band, it would definitely be Loverboy, so thank you for that, writers. This little side plot was a little silly, having Pete and Frank start a band together and then fall into bickering about song credits, but it was completely enjoyable and it was integral to the Liz fake setup plot (“It’s never too late for now!”). That little bit with Frank’s new girlfriend Yuki who was helping to break up the band was a little obvious (Oh, Yoko) but it was brief enough that it worked.

And now, a little more from Pete and Frank, a.k.a. SOUNDBOARD. (You’ve gotta love that terrible name.)