30 Rock: Season 7, Episode 11
A Goon's Deed in a Weary World
30 Rock is on such a streak right now, it is making it hard to imagine a television landscape without it. And yet, it is doing such a damn fine job of tying things up, it is difficult not to marvel at what it is pulling off. For a show that was never particularly strong from a character perspective (outside of Liz and Jack, obviously) and never really succeded at serialized narratives (the one exception that leaps to mind is Tracy's quest to EGOT), this show is crafting an ending that is suffused with a deep love for its zany cast of characters and an innate sense of how to close out a television show. Its too early to say, obviously, but it will not surprise me if season seven of 30 Rock goes down in the annals of television history as one of the all-time great final seasons, not just from a quality perspective, but for the way it feels like the conclusion we've all dreamed about for years.

"A Goon's Deed in a Weary World" gives us a lot of what we want, but never in the cheap, tossed off way we might expect. It wouldn't have surprised me for the show to die as it lived, making quick, hilarious jokes about how a lot of television shows try to tie everything up neatly before they shut off the lights one final time. I can envision a final episode of the show that was just a normal episode with all of these plots being tied up absurdly quickly in the last 5 minutes, as a meta-joke about finales. And while I would respect that approach on some level, it would be a lot less satisfying than it has been to watch these things actually play out. That the show has let us see Liz Lemon get married and adopt two children, Jenna finally tie the knot to Paul, Jack deal with his mother's death and (more disturbingly) her genuine wish for him to let go and be happier, has been an immensely rewarding experience from an emotional perspective. That all of this has happened in a run of episodes that ranks among the show's best and funniest is just icing on a particularly delicious cake.

This episode felt a lot like a series finale, which makes me even happier that we get one more hour with these people. The main thrust of the episode has Liz dealing, for likely the final time, with balancing crises at work with her personal life. TGS is being cancelled due to the lawsuit by Hazel, and none of her coworkers can rouse themselves from their general apathy and narcissism for long enough to save it. At the same time, Liz and Criss are preparing for the arrival of their Transylvanian twins, and getting ready to become parents. Liz gives an inspiring speech (or the skeleton of one, anyway), but the writers are too busy shooting Lutz with nerf guns to actually write anything, and Tracy and Jenna take the news that the show might be cancelled as an indication that they should create for themselves a life-boat in the form of a televised pitch for a movie where they play Siamese twins--she, the youthful President of the United States, he a down-on-his-luck Santa Claus--who are in love with the same woman. If that last sentence didn't make you laugh, then well up with tears at the realization that this show is almost over forever, this review (and maybe this whole season of television) probably isn't doing it for you.

This all comes to a climax in which Liz Lemon, who now legally must be known professionally as Todd Debeikis, can't leave work to meet her children, lest the test screening for Bro Body Douche Presents: The Man Cave fail, and her show be cancelled. Our hero can't bring herself to lose the show she loves, or to let down the staff she employs, to the point where she actively considers not being there to meet her children. But then, in an act of heroism that is the kindest thing her staff can bring themselves to do, they all quit their jobs and end the show. This moment is great on a lot of levels. First, its hilarious. Second, it allows the staff to do something nice for Liz Lemon without being wildly out of character. And finally, it ties things up in a way that makes 30 Rock's denouement feel like the real conclusion to the story its been telling. Liz Lemon sacrificed years of her life and much of her sanity to keep the show she loved alive. And her happy ending is the rest of the cast finally letting it die so that its creator might live. It isn't overstating it, I don't think, to call that a beautiful notion and a really brilliant way to bring the show home.

Meanwhile, Jack needs to find a replacement for his current position before he assumes his new role as CEO by setting up a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scenario, tricking all of the candidates into a final interview they believe is just a pre-interview tour of NBC. Both Kenneth and Jack want to hire Mr. MacGuffin (could that be more perfect?)--Kenneth because he is pure of heart, Jack because he plans to strip NBC for parts, sell the copper wiring in the walls, and turn it into a giant Forever 21--but they eventually come to a conclusion that is almost too perfect for words. Jack admits he was never good at running a television network, and that his biggest hit (Celebrity Homonym, a joke that will never not be funny) was created out of his insane plan to tank the network. Then he appoints Kenneth as the new President of NBC. It's kind of absurb, obviously, but the kind of absurd this show has earned, and it literally gave me goosebumps to watch adorable, kind-hearted, immortal Kenneth be given the keys to the candy factory.

This is what it's supposed to feel like when a sitcom ends, guys. Its happy in a bittersweet way, the storylines are all wrapping up, and everyone is getting the ending we always wanted for them, but never in ways that feel too unrealistic or rushed for the world this show exists in. I couldn't be more excited for next week's hour-long series finale (and I promise the review of it will be incredibly long and sappy). 30 Rock is coming to an end and creating its last masterpiece at the same time, and it is a glorious thing to behold.

Grade: A+


-Yeah. That's right. Fuck it. I just gave an "A+," the first in Review to Be Named history. And I feel it was deserved.
-"When we talked about this dream, we said we were gonna be cowboys!"

-"DVR's at 98%, but I'm just never in the mood to watch Treme. First things first, I'll watch a whole bunch of Treme."

-"Boy, women who try to do things sure get killed a lot..."

-"You've got Lemon, make lemonade."

-"Fine, I'll skip to the end...And that little boy's name was Marshall Mathers!"

-"LL, did you save the show yet? 'Cause J-Mo and I have a new problem." "Last night, at a party, we urinated into the same fountain during a lightning storm." "And I think we switched brains!"

-"I like to cater my tour to my audience. For example, if they're Japanese, I like to 'accidentally' walk in on a blonde girl peeing..."

-"I do admire Wonka. He's a true capitalist. His factory has no government regulations, slave labor, and an indoor boat. Wonderful."

-"But parts like Dumb Gay Batman come around once in a generation!"

-"Fun fact: The Today Show was originally designed to entertain prison inmates whose IQs were too low for them to be executed!"

-"Its NBC! We comedy!" "Kenneth, its we PEACOCK comedy. You say the peacock." "What? That's insane!"

-"You do peacock peacock..."

-"At some point, you gotta turn the horse into glue, Ken." "That is a waste of delicious dead horse!"

-"Damn it, this is Brokebody Douche Presents The Man Cave, and I am Todd Debeikis!" "Guys, I'm worried about Todd."

-"It doesn't matter if you went to college and business school..." "Or if your college mascot and president was a bear in a hat?"

-"They're replaceable! We can get David Allen Grier and Miss Piggy!"

-"Is that a camera? I need you on my good side." "What up, Liz Lemon. I will not be able to attend school tomorrow because of an issue with my lizard." "That seems about right."
Tags: 30 Rock
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