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October 9, 2015

'30 Rock' Season 5 Finale Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted May 6th 2011 10:30AM
30 Rock, Respawn Recap['30 Rock' - 'Respawn']

I hate to say it but this episode felt more like an afterthought to the regular season than a season finale. Maybe it's because we were taken out of our comfort zone of the 'TGS' environment for a lot of it, but it seemed more like a celebration of the core characters than the ensemble we've come to love.

That in itself isn't a bad thing. It's just that I wasn't too excited about any of the storylines, except maybe the Jack and Kenneth plot. But that's only because that one followed the organic flow of the last episode.

It's not that it was a particularly terrible episode, I'm just used to writers pulling out all the stops to blow us away in their final episode of the season. For me, it's just going to have to be my general love for the show that sees me here in September. Here with the hope the premiere is stronger.

After fighting so hard to get Tracy back for 'TGS,' it was disappointing to see him used only as a foil for Liz's quest for the perfect vacation. While he was off of 'TGS' he was underutilized on '30 Rock' as well, and I was hoping for something big with him.

On the opposite side of that, I think we got too much of Jenna this week. Her hinted at insanities in her personal life are better only glimpsed and alluded to. I felt like we got way too intimate with her relationship with Paul.

Victor Garber was fun as the head of the Wool Council. I was hoping something would come of his betraying morality himself when he started hitting on Paul (thinking it was Jenna, of course). Instead, we got to see Paul and Jenna both cross-dressed. I loved Jenna's beard and this is the kind of moments I do like with them. Short and bizarre and enough to make you wonder what is wrong with her, and then not want to think about it.

Jack projecting his feelings for the abducted Avery onto Kenneth was the only storyline that felt up to the usual level of '30 Rock''s stellar writing staff. I loved how Jack slowly coerced Kenneth into going deeper and deeper into a pseudo-Avery until finally Kenneth snapped and stood up for himself.

The sight gag of Jonathan's entire family doing the cleaning work around the studio so Kenneth could come over to Jack's house and be subjected to his creepiness was almost worth the price of admission alone. The wedding dress and tuxedo were the best. How does Jack do that?

Possibly one of the all-time highlights of Kenneth as a character was when he did his impression of Avery being mean to snap Jack out of his malaise, highlighted by his hilarious impression of Avery doing an impression of Kenneth. With the crossed eyes, I lost it.

The biggest disappointment came with the use, or non-use, of the secondary cast. '30 Rock' works because of Frank and Lutz and all those guys. Instead, most of them sat around playing a video game -- apparently all summer. Yes, that's funny as was their strategy of committing suicide so none of them could kill each other and end the match, but these guys are more than this and they deserved a better send-off.

Pete wasn't even in the episode, and neither were Cerie, Dot Com or Grizz. It was weird seeing Tracy running around acting out without his entourage. I guess they get time off during the summer break, but then how about a quick clip of what they're doing.

By making it just about Liz, Jack, Jenna, Kenneth and Tracy (but only barely), it was as if the writers were saying these were the only characters that really mattered. Okay, that may be true as well in the grand scheme of things, but I still say Jonathan's bit part was an episode highlight. Why couldn't other characters get that treatment?

In the end, the main characters realized that they couldn't escape who they are. Their lives will always "respawn" back to the point where we met them. '30 Rock' isn't about characters growing and becoming better people. It's about sustained chaos and the struggle to not lose yourself completely in it.

Tracy's entire EGOT journey was about rediscovering the chaos of his entire life. Liz can't keep the chaos away even if she wants to, while Jenna revels in it every day. And Jack, for all he doesn't want it, he's drawn to the chaos and to Liz Lemon. How could this show go on without him?


The judge yelling "Gavel!" because he lost his over the weekend.

Kenneth thinks Avery was kidnapped by convenience store owners.

Of course there was an actual sheep as a member of the Wool Council.

Everything Dr. Spaceman says is gold. Too many great lines to even go into.

"It's an old Parcell family recipe, but I like to replace the Union soldier meat with boiled potatoes."--Kenneth

"Can I borrow a cup of sugar. I'm trying to get a hummingbird to drink out of my penis."--Tracy [I love the consistent insanity of his lines.]

"Kenneth, thank you for dinner last night. It was nice to hear a woman's laugh again."--Jack

"Give me more time, Jacob. I beg of you!"--Kenneth ['Lost' ended after six seasons. Will '30 Rock' do the same?]


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

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Next season will be the last. Don't both Alec and Tina's contracts run out next year?

I thought the ending was finally more alluding to Jack's prediction is Season 1.

"In 5 years we're either all be working for him, or dead by his hand."

May 07 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This was the worst episode of the seasson. If you jumped to the extra scene as Liz returns from vacation, that was the only laugh of the show. Just go ahead and kill off Avery. She is not interested in real appearances. This show has one pathetic run left. It is dying so slowly. It will be remembered as promises unfulfilled

May 06 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DiMeo

I do hope it ends next season

May 06 2011 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It did not seem like a season finale. The "To Be Continued" seemed more like a parody of season finales than an actual cliffhanger.

I do hope that if Alec Baldwin does indeed leave after next season, they allow it to end organically and not make Jack's kid suddenly age to 7 years old and have Liz adopt her, replacing the "Jack" role in Liz's life...

May 06 2011 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This ep does seem like it was clobbered together with little thought to logic or cohesiveness. Jack turning gay for Kenneth??? This might be the jumping the shark monent for the show. If next season is indeed the last season, that might not be a bad thing if they keep churning out episodes like these.

May 06 2011 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In they end are they in a place that they created so they can be with one another?

May 06 2011 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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