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30 Rock Recap: Jack Donaghy Always Wins

30 ROCK -- "Game Over" Episode 709 -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Arnett as Devon Banks, Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

Oh, 30 Rock. Episodes like this make me realize how much I’ll miss you. I saw everything coming, but that didn’t stop me from rewinding and re-rewinding to write down every last brilliant turn of phrase along the way. Most sitcoms are NASCAR, just following a loop from start to finish. But you, 30 Rock — you’re like Formula One. I might know where you’ll end up, but the turns are what make you so thrilling.

Worst analogy ever? You know what, pal? Why don't you come over here and tell me that? Onward!

Tonight’s main plotline involved Jack’s season-long effort to become Kabletown CEO when Hank Hooper retires after his 70th birthday, which is nigh. Hank Hooper loves birthdays, but this one’s super poignant because he promised his wife he'd step aside; what’s more, his kids are “creative types” and not fit to take over the family business. You could see Jack’s eyes glistening, but alas: “Creative types” apparently skip a generation, and when Hank’s viciously ambitious granddaughter Kaylie gets out of college, she’ll be 21, which is the same age Hank was when he started Kabletown, got married, and had his first white child. So even though Hank thought Jack was trying to tank the company when he first saw the fall schedule — which includes the current No. 1 show in America, Celebrity Homonym — he now thinks Jack has done a good enough job to be Kaylie’s assistant, and keep her chair warm until she comes of age. “It’ll work great,” Hank crowed. “Just like Conan and Jay!”

Ah, but as we all know, dear readers: Jack Donaghy always wins. And in light of his mother’s passing, he’s got more motivation than ever; in fact, he considers her lack of approval to be his secret weapon. Trying to get Hank to choose Jack over his own granddaughter is “exactly the kind of challenge my mother’s anti-love prepared me for,” he told Liz, before yelling (at the floor), “I’ll make you proud of me yet, Colleen!” The master plan involved Steve Buscemi in drag — remarkably lovely! — and Jenna going full Yellow Heather, but most important, it involved Jack forming a gravel-voiced alliance with his sworn enemy: Devon Banks. He'd been whispering to Kaylie outside her school, but Jack offered him double to switch sides, proclaiming, “If we joined forces, we could become the greatest business power duo since Gregory Linens teamed up with Thomas ‘N' Things.” Despite his current occupation as a successful spin teacher (“I quit, cows. Tell your husbands I tried”), Devon couldn’t resist.

Convoluted story short, Devon told Jack he discovered that Kaylie is not Hank’s biological granddaughter, but rather the spawn of her mom and the pool boy; thus, using DNA testing to prove her lineage, they could clear the way for Jack to be CEO of Kabletown, and Devon to be head of publicity at NBC. (“You’ll never see me again. I’ll be on a beach somewhere!”) They enlisted Jenna to try to swipe Kaylie’s cell phone, but her brain is like Silly Putty (a toy Kaylie is too old for), so Jack resorted to a glass that Kaylie used while taunting him in his office and gave Banks the DNA report to mail to Hank, except the whole thing was a setup, because Kaylie switched the glasses with one from Jenna’s dressing room, and voilà, it looked like Jack was sunk. A quick round of applause for Chloë Grace Moretz, who is really quite a wonderful little acting creature, and I loved her here: “Oh, Jack,” she said, when Devon's double cross was revealed. “Sweet, sweet Jack. You wanted this so badly you were willing to believe anything.”

Ah, but as we all know, dear readers: Jack Donaghy always wins. “Yes, I suppose that’s one way this could have played out,” he said, just as Devon and Kaylie were making their triumphant exit. “But there are other possibilities.” The real plan: Spend the week distracting Kaylie with all this DNA nonsense and make her forget Pop-Pop’s birthday — the only thing that means more to him than family. And what was really in the DNA envelope Devon mailed? A birthday card from Jack, of course. “Oh my God, no!” gasped Kaylie, realizing her mistake as the clock tolled midnight on her future. “I lost. After college, I’m gonna have to go into publishing and marry a finance guy and ... do charity stuff ... Damn you, Donaghy.”

Like I said: We knew we’d get there eventually. But man, was that route great.

Elsewhere, Liz was taking hormone shots to have a baby (you son of a bitch), but she eventually got tired of the injections and called her adoption agency, where Megan Mullally answered the phone for a scene that I am going to transcribe for you because I loved it so much:

Liz: “I wanted to see if you got my letter updating my marital status.”
MM: “Oh yes, congratulations. You’ve moved from the ‘Well-Meaning Lesbian’ pile to ‘Found a Man, Comma, Living a Lie.’ That brings your wait time down to only four years.”
Liz: “Four years? So I’ll be 46 by the time I get a baby?”
MM: “Unless you’d like to adopt an older child. I can give you a 6-year-old yesterday. Pick a color.”
Liz: “I just always pictured myself getting a newborn.”
MM: “And I always pictured myself getting double-teamed by two the Rocks, but sometimes we have to make compromises. Let me know if you change your mind.”

Well, of course, Liz did change her mind. It came partially because she’s a good person, and partially thanks to just a little insight from Tracy, who — after casting Octavia Spencer as the lead in his Harriet Tubman biopic only to discover that she’s the female Tracy Jordan — finally realized what Liz had gone through as his boss for the past seven years. “If you can take care of me, you can do anything,” he said, and then started sucking his thumb. And suddenly, we knew where Planty is going to come from, even though we probably knew it all along.

Odds and Ends

  • “I remember my own mother’s passing. She wanted to be cremated, and she ended up dying in a fire. Such a considerate woman.” —Hank Hooper
  • “I once played Frederick Douglass in a one-woman show that the University of Maryland Diamondback called “Too confusing to be offensive.” —Liz
  • There, there. —Jack’s new card, of which I want one, please.
  • “Octavia! Excellent, you’re black.” —Tracy
  • “I gotta go home and feed my eels. They’re not electric, but I have a plan.” —Octavia Spencer
  • “You’re the gay one. Wanting to be with a woman? How gay is that. You win sex against a man, that’s as straight as it gets.” —Devon Banks
  • Liz: “You are off the rails, Jack!” Jack: “Thanks for the compliment, Lemon. Train travel is for hobos.”
  • That beat where Jack just stared at his painting of a cannon.
  • Jack: “Kaylie Hooper. To what do I owe the pleasure.” Kaylie: “Jack. Pleasure is the name of a pony I hate. This is business.”
  • “Blurg! I’m Liz Lemon! I’m in charge! Nerds! I wanna have a baby! My boyfriend is a pilot or something! Sandwiches!” —Tracy, channeling Liz

Only four episodes left, which is such a bummer. Can’t believe there aren’t enough to get us to summer. Soon we’ll be left with nothing but Honey Boo Boo and Ice Road Truckers ... and that’s a series wrap on Leo Spaceman, suckers. See ya next week.

Photo: Ali Goldstein/NBC