As you might have guessed, tonight’s episode was all about double-edged swords. “Dating yourself is a double-edged sword.” “Success is a double-edged sword.” “Being similar has its drawbacks. It’s a…double-edged sword.” I got it.
Still, whenever the title is that foreboding, you know somebody’s going to get cut in half in the next 30 minutes. This time around, it was Liz. Carol (Matt Damon) has been out of the picture for the past few episodes. It’s not all that surprising then that the writers decided to get rid of him. Of course, Liz has never had success with men who seem to be perfect — poor Jon Hamm — and Carol the Pilot was too good to be true. A breakup was in the cards, and I’m pretty happy with how it went down.
Liz and Carol are supposed to fly to Nag’s Head for a romantic weekend, but Carol delays the flight for hours to the chagrin of Liz, who tells him he’s “terrible” at his job. Carol refuses to start the flight until Liz apologizes. Both are too stubborn to give in, culminating in a standoff. The story was more drama than comedy at some points, but it’s a breath of fresh air when a comedy chooses not to trivialize a relationship — though I have to say, breakups at gunpoint are pretty spectacular. And on the plus side, now we get to see Liz on the rebound, making her way through another set of misfit romances. Or, dare I hope for it, the return of Wesley Snipes?
The second subplot, and comedy-wise the star of the show, was Avery and Jack’s trip to a G8 summit in Canada, mostly because of the windfall of Canada jokes that necessarily accompany such a story line, as well as the guest appearance by John Cho. Just after arriving in Canada, Avery goes into labor. Gasp — if the daughter is born here, she’ll be a Canadian — and therefore ineligible as a future American president. So Jack and Avery start hitchhiking their way through a snowstorm to the American border on a mobile meth lab driven by Harold from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Like Liz, Jack faces the problem of dating his opposite sex self — a stubborn, success-focused individual, or as Liz says, “a Type-A nut job.”
Thanks to a talk from Harold, though, Jack gives up thoughts of success and takes Avery to a Canadian hospital for the birth. I loved that this episode finally gave Avery some comic gems, seeing as she’s been underused for a while. Frankly, I thought as soon as she had her baby, she would leave the show, but it looks like she’s staying around for awhile. For all I know, though, a few episodes from now, the writers will pull a Carol and get rid of her. For now, I’m happy with her chemistry with Jack. After Colbert and Limbaugh, they’re my favorite right-wing parodies.
The add-on story is Tracy’s attempts to deal with stardom after finally attaining EGOT status. The plot is short on laughs compared to the other two, but it parallels them nicely. Tracy finds that with fame, he actually has to do things. So he decides to do an Oprah and go to Africa…which is actually a TV studio that looks oddly similar to the Survivor camps. I’m guessing Tracy will be back from his fake trip for the next episode, though.
This was by no means the funniest slapstick 30 Rock episode, but it worked because a ton of shit happened; and the writers let it happen in a way that didn’t make the proceedings trivial or generic as in other episodes, e.g., when Jack and Avery get married, and she’s not even in the episode? Come on.