This week's episode starts off with Tracy asking for a "Previously On" segment, reminding us of the impending doom: The next president will ultimately be decided by Jenna Marroney's Twitter endorsement and the subsequent choices of the residents of the Penis of America. In "There's No I in America," Jack and Liz go head-to head to persuade Jenna to support the supposedly "right" candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
In a sudden moment of realization, Liz bolts to beat Jack and get to Jenna first, jumping on the wall to avoid Lutz’s fallen marbles and sliding under obstacles Jason Bourne-style. Jack and Liz make it to Jenna at the same time, giving her the choice between America's "first really, really, really rich president" or "four more years of the stuff Obama's been doing." Jenna takes on this crucial role in a surprisingly democratic, yet entirely self-centered way: she will decide after Jack and Liz have presented cases and taken turns arguing (so basically, a debate).
A political battle ensues, incorporating everything from smear ads (Liz Lemon: WRONG ON CUTENESS, WRONG ON OTHER BITCHES) to sucking up to Jenna to going the emotional route and utilizing children as pawns. Liz assumes Jenna will go Democrat because she's a "slutmonster and Gay America's top hag" as well as a gun nut. Jack, however, sees her as "mean and rich and aging," which "sounds like a Republican."
Everything comes down to the debate of the "Jenna-ral Election" (cue forced laughter), in which Jack clearly dominates and emerges with the upper hand. With every argument Liz has, Jack twists into an anti-Jenna stance. While Liz explains that arts programs would be gutted under Romney and people would no longer know how to admire Jenna, Jack counters that cutting these programs would mean no new actresses would emerge and Jenna would get every part.
After her crushing loss, Liz attempts to appeal to Jack's emotional side by dressing up as his younger self with a terrible Bostonian accent, but she doesn't succeed there either. To everyone's surprise, it's the same little girl who Liz used pre-debate who changes Jack's mind. He disillusions her entrepreneurial ambitions by telling her "voters don't really pick the president", that rather "corporations and celebrities" do. Shawna trades in business school for implants, prompting Jack to realize that no child should live under a regime chosen by Jenna Maroney. Liz similarly finds herself adopting Jack's tactics, asking Tracy to hack into Jenna's account before posting the endorsement tweet and getting her banned from social media.
Meanwhile, Kenneth attempts to fill out his absentee ballot from Storm Mountain, but finds it difficult to do so. Though we never know whether or not he voted for the mayor or the hermit about the Storm Mountain clock tower, luckily he sends his ballot just in time with the help of an eagle.
Pete, undone from his previous "unwindulaxing" now attempts to recreate 2008 and the atmosphere of hope and change that it brought. However, like much else in this episode, he fails and nothing really changes. He doesn't get to kiss Maria the hot security guard (even though he's married), but finds some semblance of comfort in knowing that she is with Pete Horn, his alter ego who lived up to the 2008 dream of sport cars and hot tubs that can be controlled by iPhones.
This episode was a bit of a letdown from last week, as well as weakest episode in the season so far. There was a lot of potential in the episode but it ultimately fell flat. I loved Jack's dramatic smear ad against Liz, but there wasn't enough of this over-the-top sardonic humor in the episode. As much as I appreciate this progress of mentor and mentee between them, and seeing them rub off on one another ("you wish, you pervert"), the story ends with yet another mutual agreement that they can't be anyone but themselves.
Jenna also returns to her self-centered self, but doesn't exhibit early 30 Rock Jenna or the Jenna we've seen in this season. Instead, she's ambivalent and allows herself to be manipulated, without even a freak-out at the end of the episode after Tracy hacked her account.
The subplots of Pete and Kenneth were a bit too obvious and their messages felt like repeated slaps in the face: we can't recreate the optimism of the past and voting is important. Combined with the Jack-Liz struggle, however, the episode does attempt to analyze different stances on voting and the election. Is it really important we vote at all? Do we need to be informed before voting? According to Tracy, it's in America's history to make uninformed decisions: look at Columbus, he thought he was in India and called everyone else stupid.
I suppose 30 Rock couldn't really make anything beyond what the episode accomplished. With the pending election, hopefully we'll find a way to return to Pete's dream where everything felt possible. If not, we can always take Lutz's advice and "kiss a potato like the rest of us."
Moments that had me Lizzing (that's a combination of laughing and whizzing):
- Jenna is apparently pro-life, because she respects the human fetus as a hair volumizer.
- Liz on TOMS shoes: 'Every pair you buy, they give a pair to a child that was forced to work in the factory that makes these shoes.'
- The Democratic Party is definitely cooler. The president listens to “hip-hop rappings."
- 'I wasn't watching cute little kitten videos. I was watching pornography! Who put these sleepy kittens on here?' - Tracy Jordan
- Jenna can’t seem to get Romney's name down. When she hears he is called "Ron Mee" she is horrified and asks, "he's not Asian is he?"
- I always enjoy Brian Williams's random appearances. Especially when he does backflips down the hall.