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October 14, 2015

'30 Rock' Season 5, Episode 22 Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 29th 2011 12:00PM
'30 Rock' - 'Everything Sunny All the Time Always'['30 Rock' - 'Everything Sunny All the Time Always']

Now that's what I'm talking about, '30 Rock.' Tracy being petty and self-absorbed, Liz obsessing over something that's ultimately irrelevant and Jack involved in worldly politics. It was all crazy and in the best possible way. In other words, it was '30 Rock' back to its normal self after the Tracy Jordan hiatus.

As usual, Liz took something fairly innocuous and turned it into a metaphor for everything that's not perfect in her life. For nearly a month she obsessed over a plastic bag stuck in a tree outside her plastic window. An obsession that got so twisted in her head, the bag started talking to her and it wasn't nearly as nice as its smiley face would seem to promise.

I loved how sincerely Jack equated Liz's situation with the plastic bag to his own dilemma with Avery having been kidnapped by Kim Jong-Il. Of course, the '30 Rock' take on the North Korean dictator (played hilariously by Margaret Cho) did make him seem about as threatening as a plastic shopping bag.

There isn't room to go into all the hilarious things Kim Jong-Il said throughout this episode, and the amazing propaganda we saw him present to his people. I couldn't get a true sense from Avery if she was okay with the situation in North Korea, or if she just wanted to put up a strong front for Jack.

More than likely her journey is symbolic of her fears of parenthood. She used the trip first to get away from the whole situation, then seemed excited about the extension and then strangely at peace with heading up a fake Western newscast for Kim Jong-Il's propaganda machine. I'm less sure she's happy with being married now to Kim Jong Il's son, but I suspect this story isn't done.

The situation set up a fun guest appearance for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As Jack's ex-lover in the series, she's still scorned over getting dumped via text message. While Rice was given some funny material, she was not the greatest at delivering it. Still, the novelty of her appearance made me forgive her, as did her musical duel with Jack and 'Mars Attacks!' shout-out.

Liz's obsession with the plastic bag actually seemed the least significant story in the episode. Especially because it was the only one that didn't offer any real change or growth for the character unless it was to teach her that she can't attack her life in the same way she attacks work. If Liz ever did get her personal life in order, though, she probably wouldn't be nearly as entertaining.

Tracy demanding to take ownership of "Smooth Move, Ferguson!" was a great way to integrate him back into the happenings in the studio, and bring him back to his childish and petulant ways. I probably set myself up for disappointment expecting something more out of the re-creation of the incident that created the inside joke between Grizz, Dot Com and Kenneth.

In its own way, though, the simplicity of the actual event -- both times -- is what made it a perfect representation of what life was like without Tracy. A delivery guy tripping slightly was what they had to laugh about in his absence. Without Tracy bringing constant insanity into their lives, they were reduced to pratfall humor, and not even a real fall.

The show was never really off-track completely, but it hasn't been firing on all cylinders during Tracy's hiatus from 'TGS.' Even though we don't want him dominating the scenes, his absence somehow seemed to have a detrimental affect on everyone's storylines. Now, though, the show has come full circle in time for next week's finale.


• Tracy's urine is the color of dark cola.

• "Liz stabbed Jenna repeatedly." -a random line from Liz's unfinished novel

• Jenna speaks Spanish the way most Americans speak to foreigners (loud and slow English)

• Lizbianism: a dike against the rising waters of mediocrity

• NBC has a "Hot Blondes" in Weird Places initiative

• "Sometimes we use a song to move a story along and explain it to you ..."

• The segue on the news from Avery's abduction to dog Halloween costumes

• John Boehner crying on the phone to Jack about Avery's situation

• "That's right. Bags have genitals."

'30 Rock' airs Thursdays at 10PM ET on NBC.

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So much awesome in this ep, possibly the best of the season, and certainly the best for a while.

What about the references to 'Invictus,' including Liz asking "who was the white guy?" (Matt Damon, who played Liz's boyfriend Carol)?

Bill Clinton being "inter-Bush," and not hitting on Avery at the '96 convention (probably because she was too thin)?

The iPhone in North Korea ("they think it's a razor... there's an app for that")?

This episode deserves multiple viewings!!

April 29 2011 at 7:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was a funny enough episode, but I found it one of the weaker ones this season. Very standard and by-the-numbers. The only real stand-out scene was the Condi Rice bit.

April 29 2011 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You're forgetting Kim Jong Il's reenactment of Alec Baldwin's famous scene from Glengarry Glen Ross. An awesome tribute to him.

April 29 2011 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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