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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

30 Rock: "Florida"

Illustration for article titled 30 Rock: "Florida"
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Last week, Nathan Rabin stated that this final season of 30 Rock “genuinely feels like an ending,” and I have to agree. Every episode this season has managed to hit the highs of earlier years while simultaneously moving forward to a conclusive end. It’s easy to see that the writers have had a clear vision of how they want these final episodes to progress, a list of the loose ends that they want to finally tie up, and even a handful of guest stars that they’d like to stop by. Still, this hasn’t stopped the show from keeping us guessing. By the end of “Florida,” we see one aspect of Liz Lemon’s life propelled forward while another aspect is severely threatened.

Before Jack can celebrate being CEO, he first has to go to Florida to deal with his recently deceased mother’s estate. He invites Liz along, and she agrees, mostly because of Tracy’s early accusation that she lacks any sort of spontaneity. Colleen’s live-in nurse, Martha, speaks so fondly of Colleen (or “Mrs. Silly,” as she’s known in Florida) that it leads Jack to believe that Martha is a scam artist. Liz jumps at the chance to solver a “caper,” and her snooping reveals that Colleen and Martha were actually lesbian lovers. It’s a notion that Jack quickly rejects.

Jack’s insistence that “of course two friends can share a bed” seamlessly leads to my favorite part of the episode: a scene where Jack and Liz become those two friends. For many viewers, the sight of these two in bed together has been a long time coming, and 30 Rock plays it off flawlessly and with a few meta winks to the audience. Liz asks Jack “why didn’t anything ever happen between us?” which is a question that surely the Liz/Jack shippers of the Internet have been impatiently waiting to be answered. Jack puts it best, both to Liz and the audience, when he responds that their current relationship is more interesting than them dating.

Their relationship as mentor/mentee is the anchor of the show, the one thing that should never change, and to put them in any sort of romantic entanglement would feel cheap and be a disservice to both of their arcs. One of my favorite things about 30 Rock has always been its refusal to let this unique relationship fall into the same traps as hundreds of sitcoms before it. I like that Liz isn’t asking this question because of any ulterior motive or regretful feelings but rather simply because Tracy’s earlier words are still echoing in her head and she’s afraid that she’s not enough fun.

In typical Jack and Liz fashion, this conversation leads to an argument where they both lob some truthful insults at each other—she can only talk about herself, he’s crippled by mother issues—and Jack sleeps in his car. But also in typical Jack and Liz fashion, the two quickly make-up the next day after Jack bails Liz out of Harry Potter jail. There’s a nice moment of self-awareness from Jack when he realizes that his problem isn’t with Liz, or his mother’s relationship, but with the fact that he doesn’t know how to make himself happy. Hopefully, this will resurface next week.

Meanwhile, with the bosses away, Tracy and Jenna have decided to put themselves in charge and hijinks inevitably ensue. There is a great montage showcasing just how clueless these two characters can be; they think an elevator is the best place for giant bottles of water, and they replace one rotten orange with 3,000,000 new ones. But matters get a little serious when they’re visited by a lawyer (Tim Meadows, who is so immediately at home on the show that it made me wish he had appeared earlier and often in the series). Hazel, everyone’s least favorite page, has filed a harassment lawsuit against TGS. Hazel has a track record for suing her past employers so all Tracy and Jenna have to do is get everyone to sign an affidavit stating everything Hazel said is a lie.


There is a minor hitch with Kenneth who refuses to sign, not because of his past relationship with Hazel, but because he has seen plenty of inappropriate things happen. He eventually signs it and turns into a weird Grease badass because, as he put it, the only thing he had left was his integrity and lying has effectively taken that away. Tracy and Jenna, to their credit, end up feeling guilty and allow Kenneth to tell King all of the horrible things that have happened to him, ranging from multiple slaps to Liz trying to shove her birth control pills into his mouth.

What began as a simple side plot to let Jenna and Tracy explore their crazy ended up impressively tying into the main story. Toward the end, Liz takes a huge step in her personal life—well, two huge steps—as she agrees to adopt two children. Her elation is nearly palpable, but she has no time to celebrate because immediately after, she learns that Kenneth’s testimony has resulted in the cancellation of TGS. We’re two weeks from the end, but 30 Rock still hasn’t stopped sucker punching Liz Lemon.


Stray observations:

  • Liz Lemon has never been high except for that time she accidentally ate a pound of marijuana.
  • Hazel, who only made quick appearances via her testimony, was surprisingly tolerable this week. The tag may have been the most I’ve ever laughed at her character.
  • “What kind of dinosaur was your grandfather?”
  • Kudos to 30 Rock for making jokes about Florida that don’t seem stale. Both the “If you want to know why JAG wasn’t on press three” and “Let me boil a pot of hot Gatorade” jokes really landed.
  • The quick cut to Jenna and Tracy’s closet full of oranges in between Liz and Jack’s somewhat serious conversation was brilliant.
  • I can only hope that future history textbooks will include reference Jack yelling, “Lincoln was super gay!”