In the last weeks leading up to the presidential election, "Unwindulax" takes on the issue of politics in the form of Jack and Liz going head-to-head over whether money or ideas exert real power over the masses. Jenna's new public image as a laidback, chillaxing gal proves problematic for everyone else at TGS, but may end up playing an even larger role in the election than the presidential debates.
On her way to work one morning, Liz stumbles upon a mass of drunken beach-goers in the middle of New York City who claim that they are "unwindulaxing," presumably a combination of unwinding and relaxing. One "crab-catcher" explains that they are there to support their new star, Jenna Maroney, after having starred in her music video called "Catchin' crabs in paradise." Yes, she means both kinds of crabs.
The raucous crab-catchers take a toll on everyone in TGS. Frank even has to walk an extra block to avoid the human traffic, and according to his doctor "if I get moderate exercise I'll die!" Toofer, Lutz, and Frank ("three white guys," Toofer dubs them) treat this as an opportunity to bait Jenna with everything that drives her insane, ranging from dressing Cerie up in the same shirt but wearing it as a dress, to selling her autographed and embarrassing headshots pre-nose job. Jenna responds equally vehemently, threatening to unleash all of her crabs onto them and preventing them from ever setting foot in Florida ever again.
Jenna, Toofer, Lutz, and Frank also indirectly get involved in Jack and Liz's political struggle after Jack uses old-fashioned Republican trickery to get Liz to attend a Republic fundraiser. Unable to find enough free shrimp to devour, she naturally speaks out against the whole room, attempting to formulate an argument including gay dolphins, the Texan board of education thing she still doesn't quite understand, and the fact that god is a tree. Jack then turns her into a common enemy to encourage donations, using her as the "bait I throw in the water to attract bigger fish."
Liz is infuriated by Jack's insinuation that "one rich person can make a difference in this country" (a room full of rich people can change the world). Still believing that ideas are more powerful than money, Liz is determined to use TGS and television to send a political message to the voters of America. She enlists all of the writing staff to come up with more politically charged skits than "Barack O Llama" and "Baseball Mitt Romney." Hoping to use a famous Twilight celebrity as a spokesperson (while the Republicans bought off Don Cheadle for ten million dollars), we find out that Kellan Lutz is the nephew of Lutz and is willing to help in exchange for marshmallows.
Both Jack and Liz find that their efforts have no effect, as Jack's Don Cheadle ad fails to increase Romney support among black voters and Liz's Kellan Lutz monologue fails to drop an idea bomb on screaming Twihards. While Jack divides up the states into Romney versus Obama with the help of Garrett Romney, Liz does the same with the help of Tracy, who knows from his experience doing stand-up comedy across the country which candidate states would be voting for. In a mutual moment of clarity, both Jack and Liz realize that Florida, AKA the "penis of America," is the undecided battleground filled with residents who do nothing but unwindulax. At the episode's close, Jenna Maroney has the potential to decide the next president of the United States.
"Unwindulax" was perhaps my favorite episode of the season so far, building on Jack's Republican-ness and Jenna's continuing quest for fame in the music industry. It pitted Jack and Liz against one another in a more confrontational manner that had greater implications, even national implications, than those in previous episodes. Instead of talking about personal sex idiots, the two are debating the philosophies of American identity and the future of the nation. While Jack's idea that "any problem can be solved by throwing cash at it" is clearly more flawed, Liz's is also dispelled because people don't really care about politics. They just want to see some hot guy take his shirt off on national television.
Naturally, the episode poked a great deal of fun at the Republican Party and the election process as a whole, but it also had a great plot twist that both Jack and Liz were partially right. Jenna, diva extraordinaire, embodies both the shallowness of Jack's plan and the hopefulness of Liz's plan that one individual can change the world.
The episode ended with this political cliffhanger and an ominous voiceover, and I eagerly await the election results next week.
Moments that had me Lizzing (that's a combination of laughing and whizzing):
- When Jack tells Liz to keep her opinions to herself at the fundraiser, she musters up a confusing response: "You just locked your mouth and then swallowed the key!"
- "You don't have enough shrimp to buy my silence. Also, you're out of shrimp."
- Jack's Republican commercial is the perfect picture of political racism, asking Don Cheadle to say, "Mitt Romney is a lay-up!" and including the black Transformer Jazz.
- I feel so sorry for Pete. Not only does he end up renaming himself Panama, but he also gets told that he "looks like a condom that's been dropped on the floor of a barber shop."
- According to Jack, "feetball" is the correct plural form of "football."
- Apparently this otter looks like Tracy Jordan. Cannot unsee.
- The most pressing question of the episode: will Kellan Lutz fill his tummy with marshmallows? Also, he pronounces them "marshMALLOWS."