7
Dec
2012
30 Rock: Season 7, Episode 8
My Whole Life is Thunder
Jordan
Let's get this out of the way right at the top: No matter how much this show tries to convince me that Liz and Jenna are best friends, I will never buy it. The only time it even seems like a remote possibility is one of the few times a season Liz spends an episode saying, "but we're best friends!" as Jenna does horrible things to her. And that's ok, because ultimately, I don't care whether Liz and Jenna are best friends. I'm willing to accept that Liz Lemon has been systematically tortured by a sociopath for 15 years and thought that was friendship, and especially when an episode about their friendship is as mad-cap as "My Whole Life is Thunder," it really doesn't matter to me that I couldn't be less invested in Jenna and Liz's relationship.

Jenna is furious at not being invited to Liz's wedding, but really, she's even more angry that Liz ruined her surprise wedding. When Liz also wins an award (she's one of 80 women under 80 who aren't Betty White), Jenna goes into super-crazy mode, planning to ruin the awards ceremony with her surprise wedding. All of the over the top "women are like this" jokes at the ceremony land for how hilariously on the nose they are ("I just went, but I could go again!"), and any reference to Liz's past in the lighting booth and continued mastery of the craft is ok in my book.

I've talked before about my problems with Jenna as a character in 30 Rock's early seasons, and how the show has solved that to the point that she is one of my favorite characters in the show's later period. What began as a performance that seemed like Jane Krakowski angling for the spotlight as much as her character was ballooned into a comedic triumph. The crazier Jenna gets, the better Krakowski is, and she nails everything from the hilariously insane one liners (like the bit about Mickey Rourke catapaulting her at the Hollywood sign, or her joyful "You had me at Hayden Panetierre is dead!") to her hunched over flight from the ballroom once Liz messes with the lights. It will take a rewatch of the early seasons for me to determine if I was under-valuing Krakowski in those days or if the show figured out how to use her best later on, but what she does now is amazing, and I'm glad we have it.

The Kenneth subplot is thin stuff, but Florence Henderson is great as the exact opposite of Carol Brady, and the way Kenneth undercuts the at-this-point cliche of TV characters wishing their lives could be like TV by pointing out that if there was ever a show where a millionaire celebrity spent two days trying to cheer up a janitor, no one would watch it, was an excellent moment. Kenneth's life is better than most sitcoms would allow, because he lives in a cartoon, a whimsical world where his two best friends and most frequent companions are the stars of a television show, even though he has been demoted to janitor. Also, he's an immortal creature trapped in human flesh, and that has to be fun, right?

Finally, we came to the end of Colleen Donaghy. Elaine Stritch's yearly appearances have given us many of the highlights of 30 Rock, and part of me wishes she hadn't died this week. I know we are getting to the end of the show, and I understand that was the only thing differentiating this episode from every other time she has been on the show, but I wanted to leave this world behind imagining Colleen tormenting Jack, and then revealing how much she loves him, in an endless cycle forever. Like Jack, I wanted to think of Colleen as "only 14 in demon years," the sort of person who could turn disapproval into a form of longevity that dwarfs anyone with an ounce of happiness. But 30 Rock is coming to an end, and I have to start dealing with the fact that it is shutting down plotlines, closing doors, and wrapping up its story. Jack sees her last words, "I just want you to be happy," as one final twist of the knife, telling him he's a loser, and he delivers the world's greatest eulogy as a send off. I loved the Jack-Colleen relationship, and if it had to end in her death, I'm glad that Kermit was there to explain the after life to me.

"My Whole Life is Thunder," is another great episode of 30 Rock, which seems to be preparing for its end while also delivering a string of its best episodes in some time. Last week, Liz got married in an episode that perfectly balanced sentiment and hilarity. This week, Colleen died and Jenna got married, and it felt natural and didn't sacrifice a single joke. If this is the way the 30 Rock ends, it looks like it will be going out with a bang.

Grade: A-

Notes:

-"Thanks a lot, Liz! I guess I ate all that asparagus for nothing!"

-"There ceremony will be broadcast on Lifetime? .com...backslash garbage file?"

-"Salutations, Jenna Maroney. What brings a mummer to Lightsman's Row?"

-"We're talking about Oprah, right?" "No....she can hear us..."

-"My father did not kill dozens of Germans so his daughter could die in a van." "He wasn't even in the war!"

-"Well joke's on you, because that wasn't a commercial. I don't know what that was!"

-"You are not the center of the universe, Jenna!" "I am too! I'm the moon!"

-"God, I miss Gary so much, I put a sweater on a body pillow...And I...I took it for a canoe ride!"

-"I recast her! She tested through the roof...at the STD clinic."

"We almost killed Florence Henderson!" "Yes. Almost."

-"Today! We are all Irish!"

-"Life is worth living!"

-KERMIT THE FROG. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Paul McCartney and the Harlem Boy's Choir."
Tags: 30 Rock
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