“Dark times are these.” You’re right, Liz Lemon. Dark times, indeed. We’ve finally come to the end of this seven-season journey. Liz Lemon & Co. have said their final goodbyes. 30 Rock will live on in syndication, our hearts, and frequent night cheese tributes. So let’s recap how it all went down:
In “Hogcock,” part 1 of the finale, Liz was trying to acclimate to her new role as a stay-at-home mom. Jack tried to convince Lemon that she would go crazy without an outlet, but she was sure she could make it work. Further complicating matters, Liz started an all-out message board war with an anonymous Internet nemesis on the website, GothamMoms.com. As it turned out, her nemesis was her own husband, Criss, who was equally struggling in his new role as a working dad. So they decide to switch: Criss would stay at home, and Liz would pitch a new show to Kenneth. “John Hardly. He loves his family, but he hates the rat race. He’s: Hardly Working.” Kenneth turned her down, and instead gave her one last chance for TGS to make America say, ‘What? Why?'” A stipulation in Tracy’s contract required that he appear in at least 150 episodes of TGS, or the network would owe him $30 million. They’d only done 149, so Kenneth insisted that Liz come back and do one more show.
Meanwhile, after nabbing his dream job, I assumed Jack would be pretty pleased. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Jack used his Six Sigma business principles — Analyze, Strategize, Succeed, or ASS — to ensure his own personal happiness. “I’m going to crush this problem…with my ASS.” And his resolve seemed to work. Jack succeeded in all areas of his life: work, hobbies, family, philanthropy, faith, and even his relationships — which included bringing Nancy Donovan (Julianne Moore) and Elisa Padriera (Salma Hayek) back for an open group relationship. In his short time as CEO, Jack had achieved so much, and even pissed off many of his enemies: “Pelosi, Maddow, Baldwin.” (Nancy Pelosi appeared as herself on a fake MSNBC bulletin talking about how terrible Jack Donaghy was.) Yet he still couldn’t reach true happiness. So Jack resigned as CEO. What the what?! He and Lemon got into a huge fight about the importance of work and their employee/boss relationship. Liz felt like he was bailing on her, and it seemed like it was the kind of fight they might not get over.
Over in Tracy land, Mr. Jordan couldn’t accept the fact that Kenneth was no longer available to him 24/7. But TWIST! Tracy made Kenneth take back his promise that he’d always be there for Mr. Jordan. So like the snakes in his dressing room, Tracy released Kenneth from his duties. The other half of the Problem Solvers, Jenna, searched for a new place to jump-start her career since she was no longer a star of TGS. But after unsuccessful turns at dramatic roles — sorry, Law & Order: Mind Beauty — the cinema, and a trip to L.A., she decided to give one last shot to her first love, Broadway. (Special shout out to Richard Belzer and Ice-T who showed up as Munch and Fin, respectively.)
The top lines and moments from “Hogcock!”
++ “This is a Six Sigma wheel of domination. It’s a motivational tool I used back at GE, and it will be replacing Kabletown’s kitten in spaghetti.” —Jack
++ “Criss has gone back to work. He has a degree in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan, so he’s a receptionist at a dental office.” —Liz
++ “Hogcock! Which is a combination of hogwash and poppycock.” —Jack
++ Kenneth’s list of TV no-no words: “Conflict, Urban, Woman, Divorce, Shows about Shows, Writer, Justin Bartha, Dramedy, New York, Politics, High concept, Complex, Niche, Quality, Edgy, Blog, Immortal Character*, Foreign”
*”Immortal character” was my favorite, obviously a nod to Kenneth
++ “Maybe I shouldn’t bring my ideas to NBC. I’ll go to cable where you can swear, and really take time to let moments land.” —Liz, right as the scene swiftly shifts to another
++ “Where are all the baby pigeons?” —Kenneth, a.k.a. Ken Tucky Derby
++ “That’s Tracy. T as in the drink. R as in the pirate noise. A as in the Fonzie noise. C as in sea monster. Y as in why even make friends if they’re going to let you down when you need them the most? Last name Jordan. J as in the birds I’m afraid of…” —Tracy spelling his name for Kenneth’s secretary, and reminding me of this great Friends moment
++ “For example the rapper T.I. who wrote, ‘Better get on yo job, tell em, haters get on yo job, nougats.’ At least I think he was saying nougats.” —Lemon arguing with a mom on GothamMoms.com
++ Criss: “You’re the dad.”
Liz: “I do like ignoring your questions while I try to watch TV.”
++ “I’m looking for six figures, eight if you’re counting cents, which I fell for once before. Not cool, The Gap.” —Liz, asking Jack for a job
++ “When I met you, I was perfectly happy with what I had—eating night cheese, and transitioning my pajamas into day wear.” —Liz, to Jack
NEXT PAGE: The epic part 2 conclusion!
The second half of the finale, “Last Lunch,” really delivered. Liz gathered the crew to shoot the final TGS episode. Unsurprisingly, Tracy wasn’t making it easy. For example, he tricked Al Roker into announcing that “Snowicane White Lady Name Like Dorva Or Something” was going to hit midtown Manhattan to send the crew home. Reminiscent of 30 Rock‘s pilot, Liz had to go to a strip club to talk some sense into him. The real reason Tracy didn’t want to go to the show was because he didn’t want to face the goodbyes. Liz gave a heartfelt, honest speech, and convinced Tracy to come back. Lemon: solving problems until the very end.
The finale of 30 Rock would not have been complete without some Lutz hatred. It just so happened that he was the lunch picker for the day, and wanted Blimpie’s. The rest of the writers tried to find a loophole to get a new picker, but he kept outsmarting them.
Aardvark Lutz wanted his revenge for seven years of bad treatment. Once 5 p.m. rolled around, Liz took matters into her own hands: She locked Lutz into her office and ordered non-Blimpie’s food. But Lutz escaped through the ceiling and ruined the food. The cast ended up eating Blimpie’s after all. Throughout all of this, Pete kept making references to faking his own death, which he presumably did by episode’s end.
But the real gem from “Last Lunch” was Jack Donaghy. Still reeling over his fight with Lemon, he was worried that she would hold a grudge against him forever. He was in such a bad place that his odd behavior eventually convinced Lemon that he might try to kill himself. And her fears were confirmed when she found his video suicide note. So she tracked his phone, and found Jack getting ready to jump off a bridge. He jumped. She screamed, and ran to the edge only to discover he landed on a boat. Jack tricked Liz so she would end her grudge, and then he could sail off on a journey to discover what makes him happy and find his bliss—not a acronym for Beautiful Ladies In Short Shorts.
Jack began a lengthy speech discussing a once-special word that was “tragically co-opted by the romance industrial complex,” but Liz cut him off: “I love you too, Jack.” And since that’s all there is to say, Jack went off into the night on his quest for self-discovery. But his trip was cut very short. “Good God, Lemon! I just figured it all out. I’m turning around. Clear dishwashers!… So you can see what’s going on inside it. It’s the best idea I’ve ever had. Thank God I took that boat trip!”
The best lines and moments from “Last Lunch”
++ Kathy Geiss’ return, showing off a machine she invented that hugs elderly people (David Garrison also popped up in this scene)
++ Tracy trying to stall the show when the “Executive Producer Lorne Michaels” card pop up
++ “For your information, most of Tan Penis Island was destroyed in Sting’s house fire.” —Jack
++ Lemon: “So get up on that stage and cut the BS!”
Tracy: “But I promised Barbra Streisand I’d never stab her again.”
++ “She did want me to cancel Top Chef because Colicchio’s lunch place changed the topping on her favorite salad.” —Jack, about Lemon holding a grudge
And later: “Which reminds me, why am I seeing new Top Chefs with that bald salad-ruiner?” —Liz
++ “We were going to lose our virginity to each other. Now I’ll never lose it! —guest star Conan O’Brien referencing his relationship with Lemon
++ “He’s in a really bad place, like when Mickey Rourke…I can’t do this anymore. I’ve never met Mickey Rourke.” —Jenna
++ The musical adaptation of the film of the novel The Rural Juror
++ The pop-up ad for Grizz & Herz
++ “I do have a parting gift for you Lemon, go to YouTube and search ‘Hamlet the mini pig goes down stairs.'” —Jack
++ “Jack! Wait! There’s so much to live for! Don’t you want to know how Mad Men ends! [Jack jumps.] Don goes to work for Peggy!” —Liz
++ “Thank you, America! That’s our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke’s on you! ‘Cause we got paid anyway!” —Tracy talking about TGS (and 30 Rock)
NEXT PAGE: Did you really think I’d ignore the one year later?!
The tag at the end of the episode was great. It gave us a look at where everybody was one year later, and it looked like this: Paula discovered Pete’s whereabouts, and forced him to come home. At least he got away with faking his death for a year. Grizz found success in his show, Grizz & Hers, which featured the line “Don’t even say it” which he delivered to his dog. (Kenneth would have been proud.) Jenna won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical… Only she really didn’t. She was just stealing the thunder from the real winner, guest star Alice Ripley. But at least Jenna got to flash her boobs before making her final exit. Liz was working on the aforementioned show, Grizz & Hers, and her kids were on set with her. Looks like she really can have it all. Tracy’s dad finally came back from getting cigarettes. And Jack was back in the office, probably even richer from his clear dishwasher idea, working with a beautiful assistant. Good riddance, Jonathan!
And then I freaked out a little, because when I saw Kenneth looking into a snow globe, I worried that they were going to pull a Newhart on us, and they would reveal the entire series had been a big dream. But the St. Elsewhere-style was even better than that. A Ms. Lemon was pitching the idea of a show that takes place at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, based on the stories her great-grandmother told her. Kenneth loved the idea, and then we saw the futuristic space cars flying past the window behind him. Kenneth will outlive us all, because I guess he really is immortal.
30 Rock had a lot of pressure to go out on top, and I think it managed to do just that. Part 1 of the finale was a little underwhelming, but not short on one-liners. And I’ve always said a less-than-stellar episode of 30 Rock is still one of the funniest shows on TV. “Hogcock” just set things up for a very rewarding “Last Lunch,” which featured a number of callbacks to some of the series’ finer moments. I’m looking at you, Rural Juror. It was a smart nod to faithful viewers who followed the show through its good (“I want to go to there!”) and bad (Hazel Wassername) times. Did I love every moment of the finale? No. I could have lived without Pete faking his death, and I would have loved to see more Nancy and Elisa. But overall, the finale delivered a sense of closure that not all shows manage to accomplish. So thanks, 30 Rock. These really were the best days of my flurm.
Now it’s your turn. Were you happy with the series finale? What was your favorite part? Least favorite part? And where does the “Rural Juror” song rank on your list of 30 Rock originals? For me it’s somewhere between “Muffin Top” and “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.” Sound off in the comments.