If there’s one thing 30 Rock knows how to do, it’s how to describe and depict the trials and tribulations of New York. Liz kicks off the episode with complaining to Jack via cell phone that her subway ride “was the standard amazingness,”—which of course means the subway car was too packed for her to get off at the right stop and that the car then announced “Train going express for no reason!” Jack recoils at Liz’s harshness towards the Greatest City on Earth, saying, “We live in the world capital of culture, finance, and King Kong attacks. New York is a testament to man’s greatness.” Liz argues instead that New York is a selfish thug in a cocktail dress; and just then Jack is mugged in an alleyway, by—of all things—a man wearing Dockers.
On the TGS set Jenna refuses to wear an old lady costume for a “before picture” sketch, and suggests Liz do it—after all, she already has the frown lines.
Liz and Tracy meet with Jack in his office and find out he’s been mugged. The mugger took Jack’s cuff links, and since Jack only has a pair of tuxedo cuff links at work, he of course must wear a tuxedo (Can you imagine wearing tuxedo cuff links with a suit? Embarrassing.) Liz has the beginnings of a cold, thanks to being sneezed on in her cramped subway ride and reminds Jack that New York is nothing but a selfish filth monster. Jack tells them how his mugger was a middle class man, and believes New York’s on the brink of a class war.
Jack brings in his generally clueless private investigator Lenny (played by guest star Steve Buscemi), because Jack couldn’t get a hold of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (they’re friends because they have competing columns in Irish Arguments Weekly, America’s only all-caps magazine). Liz’s cold gets worse, and while still wearing her TGS old lady costume she realizes that being an inconsiderately hacking, crazy old lady sure opens up some seats on the subway. Liz realizes that maybe playing by society’s rules isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Jack doesn’t think the police will help him because he’s part of the privileged upperclass, even though he pays hundreds of dollars in taxes. Jack tries to create a rich police, but to no avail. Liz tells Jack he can’t count on anyone in this city, and the only way to get by is to sink into the filth. Jack instead aims to rise above the filth and return New York to its former glory, find a leader that believes in order and justice, and save the city—Jack announces he will valiantly run for mayor of New York City. “Jack Donaghy for mayor. Slogan to come.”
Meanwhile, Jenna’s boyfriend Paul (another guest star, Will Forte) comes to visit. The two are exhausted and end up napping on each other. They are both initially appalled at their normalness, but then realize that since they hate normal and they didn’t hate napping on each other, it must be a kind of new fetish called “normaling.” They decide to (gasp!) go normaling in public and shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond together. Jenna describes this new level of sexuality to Pete, only to have him break it to her that they’re just doing normal couple stuff. Jenna and Paul realize they may just be entering the next step of their relationship and are starting to settle down. They decide to engage in a sexual walkabout for the next three months and then see if they still want to be a normal couple. You know, typical couple stuff.
Tracy finds out that Jack hasn’t left his office since the day of his mugging (don’t worry about Liddy, she’s gone to a Baby Leadership Conference). Tracy tells him that he was scared too when he got mugged when he was little, but eventually he has to face his fear and return to the outside world. Liz ups the crazy in her old lady costume, hoping to drive away all her fellow theatergoers so she can enjoy a sneak preview of The Hunger Games by herself. Kenneth catches her and tries to remind her of the old Liz, the rule-loving Liz. Liz solidifies her descent into villainy with a threateningly whispered villain speech: “What did the rules ever get me? The worst seat at the movies? A bunch of music that I paid for? A drawer full of leaky batteries that I don’t know what to do with?! Rules?? There’s only one rule now, Kenneth. Plastic cups go on the top rack of the dishwasher so they don’t melt. Otherwise, no rules.” And with a cape toss, she’s gone.
In case you hadn’t caught on to the Batman allegory going on here (by the way, have I mentioned how awesome 30 Rock is for doing a Batman allegory?), we find Jack perched on top of 30 Rock, broodingly watching the city.
Liz finds Jack at the top of the building and calls him The Tuxedo (Of course Jack’s superhero name is The Tuxedo. Are we all getting the reference in the episode title now? Good.) She wildly taunts him for trying to save the city, and he accuses her of making the city worse for her own selfish ends. Liz threatens him by opening her sewer-smelling gym bag, horrifying Jack: “Is that your gym bag? Aren’t you a human woman??” She menacingly retorts, “It’s the new microfibers. They keep you dry, but it all has to go somewhere!” Jack wonders what peril Liz will bring New York next, and, cementing his herodom, Jack warns her, “There’s a war going on out there, and you’re gonna have to pick a side. I have always wanted to say that and I can’t believe I have wasted it on you.”
Just to double check that everyone is seeing the Batman comparison here, for a split second Jack has a billowing cape behind him. Liz retreats, wheezing and coughing, hoping to still make it to her movie. On the way there she realizes she forgot her wallet. Jack has bravely entered the street of New York again, only to have Liz jump out at him yelling, “Give me $20!!” In one fluid motion Jack picks her up and throws her into a trash heap, while every symbol of New York watches in awe—the Mets Man, a Statue of Liberty street performer, and a prostitute. Everyone applauds Jack for attacking the crazy old lady that was terrorizing the subway. Jack ends up thanking Liz, “Lemon, you’re the only woman I could ever fight to regain my manhood.” Liz asks if he’ll still run for mayor, and he replies that the city no longer needs him.
Now Presenting: Tracy Jordan, without comment or context.
- “I won an Oscar, so now I get to do real art—begin Snow Dogs phase.”
- “How black was this dude? On a scale from Lisa Bonet to Dot Com.”
- “I can see how you went there. I have a criminal skull shape.
- “All I had was a Chewbacca costume made out of used hair extensions.”
- “Perfectly executed Chewbacca sound!”
- “I’m gonna say to you what I say to all my sharks before they die—let’s go outside.”
Watch new episodes of 30 Rock on Thursdays on NBC at 8/7c. Next week’s episode on Feb. 23 is a new episode entitled “Leap Day.”
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