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'30 Rock' Recap: 'There's No I In America'

Posted: 11/01/2012 12:02 pm

This week's NBC Thursday night lineup was more or less cancelled thanks to Hurricane Sandy, which presented a problem for "30 Rock," since this pre-election episode probably wouldn't have played too well post-election. So to Wednesday night they went with the big election arc conclusion. It was an occasionally confusing -- but generally heartwarming episode -- in which Kenneth votes by eagle and Liz tries and fails to drink scotch. "Wiki-what?!" you say? Let's recap.

Liz and Jack spent the episode trying to convince Jenna to side with their respective candidates, which Jenna was fine with since Jenna would be fine with anything that revolves around her completely. After a bunch of go-rounds, Liz and Jack concluded that even after six years, neither has rubbed off on the other (you wish, you pervert). In the first Jenna-ral debate, Jack more or less crushed Liz by appealing to Jenna's vested interests (getting cast for all parts in all movies and not having to take pictures next to Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively, who support Obama). Liz unsuccessfully tried a sentimental approach -- vote Obama to support arts programs so children know how to appreciate Jenna's talent, and so old men in suits behind closed doors can't tell her what to do with her body (which Jenna is just intrigued by, sexually). Young Shauna Alfred, budding capitalist, inadvertently changed Jack's mind after he realized that by following through on his plan, Jenna was presented as a viable role model. As a result of following Jenna's lead, Shauna realized she could save money by just buying implants rather than going to business school, and having seen one future thus ruined, Jack took a page from Liz's book and decided not to have Jenna endorse Mitt because "no one deserves to live in Jenna's America." Yet to prevent Jack from succeeding, Liz borrowed his manipulative tactics and got Jenna kicked off Twitter by hacking into her account and having Tracy post offensive tweets. It seems the two have rubbed off on each other after all. Perverts.

Kenneth received his absentee ballot, and neatly tied up the past-episode gap ("Choosing is a sin") by casually mentioning that Reverend Gary is dead. The circle of life ... The first question would empower the mayor to make repairs to the city clocktower and had him stumped, since he could see both sides of the story. On the one hand, the mayor appeared to be a drug-addled crazy person determined to take the clock apart, while the hermit who lives there refused to let anyone touch the clock because it's his wife and where he does his "snipering." Afraid of making the wrong choice, Kenneth was consoled by Tracy, who pointed out that real Americans don't vote based on informed decisions.

Pete's storyline was kind of confusing, though a sure way to win me over to anything is a Brian Williams cameo. Pete was completely swept up by the hope and change promised in the Obama campaign and victory of 2008, and was bent on recreating that. Well, that and a election victory euphoria-related kiss from a cute security guard named Maria. All attempts failed though, since Obama's reelection campaign doesn't have the same spark. For a while, it really just seemed Pete just really wanted an excuse to get with Maria again, which, given how much I adore his wife Paula, earned him a lot of side eye. Especially since Paula was oddly not even mentioned once throughout. In any case, it turned out to be about more than Maria. When Obama was elected, Pete felt as though he could be that guy who drove a sports car and said cool catchphrases, that anything was possible and his life was just beginning. Four years later, Pete felt as though nothing had changed after all ... for Pete's sake (I feel like they've had that one locked and loaded for a while). Pete was depressed, even more so when he saw Maria leave with a non-balding, confident "Peter Horn," who drives a nice car and turns on his hot tub with his phone. But it's okay, because at the end regular Pete has his way with Kenneth.

Besides the truly spectacular Liz Lemon attack ad and the pretty masterful handling of the Jenna-ral debate, I didn't love all of the political humor. The "Obama hasn't done anything" and "Mitt Romney is a robot" jokes really feel like they've been played out at this point, as has the classic "Americans are ignoramuses who never vote based on knowledge!" gem. They worked well enough, but they're getting stale and "30 Rock" is usually more original than that.

That being said, there were still a ton of highlights, as always:

It can't be said enough: The Liz Lemon attack ad was brilliant. I might have Lizzed a little when "BROWN HAIR" showed up on the screen. If you see nothing else from last night's episode, it should be that.

Black Shrek is right up there with last week's Tracy Jordan Otter.

Danny's incredibly random appearance. He really does pop up when you least expect it, but I love that they've made his weird, disappearing storyline into a running joke.

The entire opening sequence -- "Butterfingers!" And unless there are any objections (and even if there are) I'm going to go ahead and pretend that was Tina Fey doing that catlike wall jump.

Jenna's been shot and left for dead in three different deserts, her password is "me69" and it's too dark inside her pants to take a photo to send to a spambot.

Lastly, Liz's quote, "Deviousness? I guess two can play at that game. Just like most games."

How was episode 5?

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