30 Rock Finale Recap: Lemon Out!

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30 Rock Finale Recap: Lemon Out!
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30 Rock Finale Recap: Lemon Out!

Tracy Jordan, you beautiful, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”-singing, Black Crusaders-fearing manchild.

Were it not for you and the clause in your ridiculous contract – which promises you $30 million if TGS doesn’t make it to 150 episodes – there’d be no reason for Liz and the gang to return to the studio for one last go. Hence, we’d miss out on a 30 Rock series finale that’s funny, touching and stuffed like a Cheesy Blaster with shout-outs to the (real) NBC comedy’s seven-season run.

So let’s work on our night cheese, reminisce about our time dating Mickey Rourke (blerg) and grimace at our mom’s friend Ron as we review the major events of “Hogcock!”/”Last Lunch.”

RELATED | Exclusive 30 Rock Video: Did Tina Fey Ever Go to There? Your Very Last Burning Qs Answered!

JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT… | With TGS off the air, Liz is an unhappy stay-at-home mom. Her ennui manifests itself in a visit to Jack, who has nailed the position of Kabletown CEO but is experiencing a similar emptiness in his life. They both pay calls to new NBC CEO Kenneth. Liz pitches him a sitcom based on the story of her life, “A woman writer, living in New York…” but he cuts her off by saying everything she’s just mentioned is on his list of “TV no-no words,” which also includes “shows about shows,” “Justin Bartha” and “immortal characters.” (Ha!) She later tries again, but Kenneth passes and instead drops this news: Per Tracy’s aforementioned contract, she’s gotta come back for one more TGS.

Meanwhile, Jack’s consultation with Kenneth fires up the older man to dominate his happiness the way he crushes business, and we’re treated to a montage that includes Donaghy systematically making things right. He spends quality time with his daughter. He has a Forrest Gump-like moment in a church choir. And — perhaps the most impressive — he gets Julianne Moore’s Nancy and Salma Hayek’s Elisa (Skyped in from a Puerto Rican prison) to agree to a group relationship. Even with his home life in order and having “pissed off my enemies – Pelosi, Maddow, Baldwin” (ha!), Jack still can’t figure out what’s missing.

So when Liz stomps into his office and demands a job, she’s shocked to hear that he’s resigned as Kabletown’s head honcho… and he won’t help her find a new gig, because work is never going to make her happy. “Oh my god,” she says, realization dawning. “This whole time, you’ve been telling me how to run my life, you didn’t know what you were talking about. You’re just an alcoholic with a great voice.” (I waited for a joke line to lighten that burn. It didn’t come. Ouch.)

The interaction gets nastier, with both agreeing that they’re nothing more than co-workers. “So we ruined each other. Good to know,” she spits. (Between this argument and Jim and Pam’s terrible phone call last week, NBC comedies, you are ruining me.) The moment is broken (hilariously, thank goodness) by Jonathan gleefully running in and banishing Liz for good. “Get out of our lives!”

Everyone returns to the set, so let’s just break the rest of the episode down by character.

JENNA | After grandly announcing her plans to advance her career, Jenna fails at primetime TV (as a too-vocal Law & Order: SVU corpse) and at making a splash in Hollywood (her “Shut it down” when she realized she was the oldest person at the airport made me laugh out loud). The blonde’s intention to hit Broad-WAY is interrupted by playing therapist to Jack, who’s rapidly falling apart, and by maintaining that there’s no one on TGS she’ll really miss. That’s not actually true: She and Tracy have a soggy embrace before their “Hitler to Hitler” scene, and she tearfully sings the song from Rural Juror to close out TGS‘ run; lyrics as follows:
The Irma Luhrmer-Merman murder
Turned the bird’s world lurid
The whir and the purr of a twirler girl
She would the world were demurer
The insurer’s allure for valor were pure Kari Wuhrer
One fervid whirl over her turgid error
Rural Juror
Rural Juror

[Chorus]
I will never forget you, Rural Juror
I’ll always be glad I met you, Rural Juror
I will never forget you, Rural Juror
I’ll always be glad I met you, Rural Juror
These were the best days of my…. flurm

TRACY | When a faux weather stunt involving Today weatherman Al Roker doesn’t shut down production, Tracy hides out in a strip club where he and Liz wind up having the episode’s most heartfelt conversation. (Unlikely, I know. But it works!) She tells him the brutal, touching truth: “Working with you is hard, Tracy. You frustrated me and you wore me out. But because the human heart is not properly connected to the human brain, I love you. And I’m gonna miss you.” He later signs off TGS‘ last hurrah in meta style, with the entire cast and crew flanking him: “Thank you, America. That’s our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke’s on you, because we got paid anyway.”

PETE | After dropping many hints throughout the episode, Pete fakes his death – a plan he’s apparently had for some time now.

LUTZ | Despite the writing staff’s desire for one last blowout on the company dime, it’s Lutz’s turn to choose the eatery… and he wants Blimpie’s sandwiches as a payback for all of the beatings he’s taken over the years. Much cajoling and arguing takes place before Liz locks the doughy scribe in her office and issues an executive order for sushi and cake. But Lutz sneaks out through the drop ceiling and falls flat on the table, destroying the upscale eats and ultimately getting his way.

JACK | Donaghy’s crisis continues with him giving away his earthly possessions, delivering a monologue from Our Town and leaving a suicide-note video for Liz. But when she finally finds him, he’s actually just preparing for a long, soul-searching trip on the boat he just bought. Jack manages to tell Liz he loves her – in the least romantic yet most touching way possible – and sets out… only return to the dock a moment later.  “Nevermind, I just figured it all out. I’m turning around,” he cries, excited about his new business idea. “Clear dishwashers!”

ONE YEAR LATER | In the episode’s final moments: Pete’s wife Paula finds her very much alive hubby and hauls him home; Liz happily balances being a mom and working on Grizz & Herz, a comedy starring the long-suffering member of Tracy’s entourage; Jenna gives the Tony Awards audience something to sing about; Tracy bonds with his dad, who’s finally back from buying cigarettes; and Jack is firmly re-ensconced in the corporate world (complete with a comely female secretary).

But then… we cut to Kenneth in his NBC prez office, holding a snowglobe of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (St. Elsewhere shout-out!) as he’s pitched a show – which takes place at 30 Rock — by a glasses-wearing young woman who says she based the idea on her great-grandmother’s stories. (Aw, what cute progeny Liz and Criss have!) “I know,” the eternally youthful Kenneth says with a grin as all manner of futuristic transportation glides by his window. “And I love it.”

Now it’s your turn. Grade the finale in the poll below and then hit the comments with lines that had you lizzing and your favorite guest-star moments.


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