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30 Rock Recap: The Beginning of the End

So as far as I can tell, tonight’s 30 Rock served two purposes: to satisfy the shippers who always wanted Jack and Liz to sleep together, and to explain why TGS — and thereby this entire series — would soon be coming to an end. Truthfully, neither resolution was entirely satisfying. After last week’s volley of one-liners and intrigue, this week’s ep landed like a lead balloon ... but maybe it’s just as well. We have to let go eventually, right?
 
We opened on Liz being thrilled to learn that her adoption agency had found her a potential son. This was exciting (even though he might be a vampire) until Tracy pointed out that kids change everything, and the always-controlled Liz needed to have fun while she could. In a fit of spontaneity, she decided to accompany Jack to Florida to help him tie up some loose ends — namely, his mother’s estate.

It seems that Colleen, whom Jack “misses,” had left everything to her live-in nurse Martha. (Kudos to Alec Baldwin for finding a way to verbally place air-quotes around a word with such grace and aplomb.) Upon reaching Florida, however —  a land where the answering machine at emergency services will ask you to press three if you can’t figure out why JAG was canceled — Liz and Jack discover that Martha thought Colleen was a lovely woman, an angel who fell from heaven, not unlike Lucifer. “She was the happiest person I ever met,” said Martha. “Her nickname here was Mrs. Silly.” [Sketch idea!] Jack was confused. “That woman clearly didn’t even know my mother,” he barked at Liz, after Martha had sobbed her way out of the room. “This is a scam.”
 
Or was it? Liz, who watches a lot of Dateline, headed off into Colleen’s bedroom to investigate ... and there she saw several things that none of us can ever un-see: photos of Colleen and Martha swimming with dolphins. Photos of Colleen and Martha washing cars. A painting of Colleen’s hands on Martha’s breasts. Liz recoiled. “Shmesbians!” she gasped. Jack couldn’t believe it. Liz pressed: “They shared a Sleep Number bed set to two drastically different firmness numbers,” she said. “Only an insane person would do that if they were sleeping alone. Insane!” And then there was Martha, DVR-ing documentaries about Pat Summit’s tailor. It wasn’t until Martha escorted Jack and Liz into the guest room — full of woodworking tools and sculptures of lumpy flowers/Colleen’s vagina — that Jack acknowledged the truth.
 
But first, we got what I can only assume for many was the long-awaited scene in which Jack and Liz faced down seven years of chemistry. Despite acknowledging its existence, I’ve never particularly expected them to act on it — but, you know, tell that to Martha. She assumed they were married. “Our relationship is purely platonic, if Plato had an elderly shut-in aunt,” Jack said, to correct her, and probably to calm his own racing imagination. “You know, Plato did have a gay relationship with Socrates,” responded Liz. “Lemon, the only way you’re like Socrates is you have the body hair of a Greek man,” said Jack. “Are you sure you aren’t married? 'Cause this seems pretty married,” responded a confused Martha.
 
And so here’s how they finally got Jack and Liz tangled up in bed: It was an old mattress that sloped into the middle. The two laid down and toppled into a very brief embrace — ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, SHIPPERS? — before springing apart and dissecting their relationship. “Why didn’t anything ever happen between us?” Liz asked. “Good God, Lemon,” said Jack. “If you’re trying to conjure my mother’s ghost, you can just shake a jar of coins while praising Jimmy Carter.” But Liz wasn’t saying she wanted something to happen; she was just asking why something didn’t happen. And the bottom line is, despite Jack being something of a slut (turns out he slept with Jenna a lot during season three, which I guess I have to go back and watch now), they just weren’t attracted to each other. Here’s the key line: “To ruin what we have with a tawdry yet expert sexual encounter would have been a mistake,” said Jack. “Our relationship is more interesting than some dating scenario.” Bingo. I hope, hope that we can all agree on that.
 
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Jenna and Tracy decided they were in charge, owing to Liz being in Florida and Pete being at a line producer’s convention in Albany that somehow involved wigs. Although they dealt with issues as wide-ranging as water-bottle delivery and restocking the office refrigerator to excess, it seems the two were somewhat overmatched by the appearance of one Tim Meadows, joining the last-minute guest-star parade as Martin Lutherking, a lawyer from NBC’s in-house counsel. He arrived to deliver the news that a former TGS employee had filed a harassment lawsuit against the production (plus Jenna and Tracy individually), seeking damages in the amount of $50 million.
 
This employee could only be one person.
 
And you know who it was.
 
So EFFING HAZEL turns out to be the death of everything, which she was already, in our hearts, and even though she’s lying like a rug about the “widespread culture of depravity” at TGS, one does have to admit that, when seen through the lilywhite eyes of, say, Kenneth — who apparently turns into the Fonz when he lies, in some sort of bizarre sub-Glee-level allegory — there’s been a lot pretty weird stuff going on there for the last seven years. Naturally, no one notices Hazel’s pathology (or doll molestation) while taking her statement, but what else is new. Hank Hooper hates negative publicity, and, therefore, his last act as CEO will be to cancel TGS.
 
Odds and Ends
 
“I am not some kind of nerdery slut. I like Star Wars.” —Liz
 
“She stopped watching the Bruins because Derek Sanderson’s mustache made him look, quote, like he takes his sandwich with a pickle.” —Jack
 
“You don’t want to go out. The Vietnam vets are starting to retire, and they get antsy at night around all these palm trees.” —Martha
 
“At the end when she said she just wanted me to be happy, I thought she was being sarcastic. Because when I was growing up I thought people who wanted to be happy were weak. Hippies. Italians. Kindergarten teachers.” —Jack
 
This episode didn’t leave me in a good place, y’all. There just wasn’t a lot of hope in it. Case in point: In the last moments of tonight’s episode, Liz heard from the adoption agency that there are two kids ready for immediate placement with her and the little action figure she’s married to. She’s so close to being happy — but is that even possible without her beloved show? And then there’s Jack, who, thanks to his mother’s late-in-life lez-out, realized that he doesn’t even know how to be happy, which is just heartbreaking to me because I totally kind of have a thing for Jack. (Admit it: you do too.) And to top it all off, EFFING HAZEL is back, taunting us with her awfulness. Blerg. Maybe next week will be more cheerful, somehow. See you then?

Photo: NBC