After the drama of the presidential debate, 30 Rock returns with an episode centered on the age-old struggle of Liz's ability to balance her job and personal life. Hazel, in an attempt to make a name for herself on the TGS stage, volunteers as Liz's assistant, jeopardizing the show as well as her relationship with Kenneth. Jack and Tracy go head-to-head after Tracy's movie Aunt Phatso portrays Jack Donaghy as a ruthless enemy who buys the city's ramps and converts them into more profitable stairs.
Liz once again complains that she "can't balance work and personal life" (to which Kenneth responds with "let's move on," how meta). This time, however, it is her bunions that pose a catch-22. If she gets quadruple bunion surgery, the show will be disastrous. If she decides to rewrite that week' show, her feet may be ruined. Taking Jack's advice, she hires Hazel as her assistant, who initially proves to be a miracle worker who unglues her TGS sweater from her chair and adds a mini-freezer full of frozen candy bars to her office.
This act is all part of Hazel's scheme to join the cast of TGS, or at the very least perform her rhythmic gymnastics routine on the air and steal Jenna's fame. While she continues to manipulate Kenneth, she also uses her new job to ruin TGS's nonexistent show (the sketches were never rewritten after the budget crisis). After smashing Liz's wheelchair against the wall and substituting a previous show taping as a live feed, she puts her plan in motion.
Liz realizes Hazel's insanity just in time, crawling and running on her beautiful new "foot babies" with dramatic orchestral music playing in the background to fire her right before the show goes on the air. Kenneth, infuriated by the fact that his girlfriend was let go and Jenna never actually listened to him when she promised she would, severs all non-professional ties with his TGS friends.
The TGS civil war continues with Jack and Tracy's struggle to control the other and prove their dominance.The popularity of Tracy Jordan's Aunt Phatso Goes to the Hospital Goes to Jail forces Jack to confront Tracy, asking him to discontinue the making of any other movies that portray him as the villain, as well as threatening to sue Tracy for every penny he owns (except the ones he's swallowed).
To Jack's horror, Tracy manages to outwit him by both ruining a night at the New York Philharmonic and presenting Jack with an ultimatum that prevents him from suing Tracy over Aunt Phatso. The character of Jack Donaghy proves to be like the real Jack Donaghy in every way except for shutting down an orphanage. Tracy manipulates the situation so that should Jack shut down his movie's production (titled Tracy Jordan's Aunt Phatso's Jack Donaghy's We At It Again,) the loss of profits would indeed force an orphanage to shut down. As Jack would say, "checkmate, game, set, match, rumbledygoo" (that's what you say when you win in polo).
This week's episode continues to explore the intricacies of TGS. The feud between Jack and Tracy explores some uncharted territory between two characters who are indeed remarkably similar. As Liz points out, both are "stubborn, rich, and think they're right all the time." It's nice to see Jack put in his place every once in awhile, and by Tracy who has 'matured' greatly over the course of the show while still remaining crass and offensive with lines like "As a wise woman once told me, respect these boobies!" It was also great that the episode ended not with the fact that Tracy had "bested Jack Donaghy" but had finally "earned his respect." Now, one isn't necessarily more powerful than the other, but have finally reached common ground.
The Hazel storyline, which never really got off the ground, was ended rather abruptly with Liz firing her. I had expected Kenneth to undergo some grand revelation and realize the error of his ways. Right now, I'm just waiting for her to come back and seek her revenge.
Liz's bunions were actually the comedic highlight of tonight's episode, with everything from Kenneth mistaking her walk for that of Charlie Chaplin (how delightful!), to her realization that she lacks any semblance of upper body strength. "Why are my arms so weak? It's like I did that push-up last year for nothing!" What was a bit disappointing, however, was Liz's dilemma, which was left open-ended at the episode's close when she asks Jack and Tracy for advice. Though it's no surprise that she goes to Jack for some direction, it feels like a constant fallback throughout every episode of the season thus far. With the development of a character like Liz Lemon, I would expect that she would draw some sort of conclusion from her experiences, rather than simply stating that she "will never be able to have a family and work at TGS."
Moments that had me Lizzing (that's a combination of laughing and whizzing):
- The best exchange of the night goes to Hazel and Jenna: "Why don't you make like a woman driver and get lost?" / "I'd rather make like the father I never had and stay."
- After seeing Liz limping, Jack asks her "foot illness or fell running for food?"
- Tracy calls Jack and Liz by the names of Grizz and Dot Com because he "doesn't see race, you white bastards!"
- Apparently the only award Aunt Phatso would ever win is a NAACP Shame Award. The magazine Urban Butts, however, considers it a huge success.
- How to persuade Liz Lemon to hire you as her assistant: "Sisters helping sisters, glass ceiling, legitimate rape!"
- Jenna's self-centeredness is once again taken one step further. While complimenting herself for listening to Kenneth, she considers going as a slutty ear for next year's Halloween.