30 Rock “Respawn” S5 E23 Review + Recap

In this episode of 30 Rock, we flash forward and seemingly skip summer break. Before breaking for summer. It’s a little odd for a season finale, but “a little odd” is 30 Rock‘s bread and butter.

In a dreary bit of continuity, Jack (Alec Baldwin)mourns the loss of Avery by transposing his feelings onto an unlikely replacement. (Is Avery really gone from 30 Rock forever? I hope not.) Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) celebrates a perfect summer vacation, which is ruined almost immediately. Jenna (Jane Krakowski) has to choose between being true to herself and her relationship, or being spokeswoman for Big Wool.

There is also a CGI sheep.

The wise, silent sheep was my favorite part of the episode, along with the random fourth guy at the writer’s table. These two small gags aside, the episode was messy.

Jack is depressed and begins treating Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) as a replacement for Avery. This leads to some odd sexual tension and some intense eye flirting, not that I’d expect anything less from Alec Baldwin. Kenneth helps him realize that the needs to move on and spend time with his daughter. Yay, heartwarming ending.

There’s a similar, easy win for Jenna and Paul (Will Forte) in Jenna’s storyline. The wool consortium urges Jenna to tone down her unconventional life in order to fit in with their moral code. She and Paul attempt to do so. Paul wears traditional male garb and even loudly forces out the scraggly haired midget jester whom the couple had previously hired to sit on them.

Paul is one of my favorite recurring characters, and the 30 Rock writers never fail to amp up the ridiculous nature of Paul and Jenna’s relationship. At the end, Jenna and Paul decide to be themselves, even if it costs them Jenna’s new position. Yay, heartwarming ending.

Liz Lemon goes on vacation to find that Tracy Jordan has moved in next door. He proceeds to ruin her quite stay by throwing loud parties and randomly shooting into the air. She is about to leave, when Tracy remarks on her leaving as a symbol of the two of them not being friends, and the negative effects that would have on his performance for the next season of TGS.  Liz eventually realizes she can extricate herself by not paying a fine and taking community service instead.  That’s not really a heartwarming ending.

The show ends with Liz, Tracy, Jenna (dressed as a dog), Paul (with a gimp mask and leash), and Jack all cooing at baby Libby. Heartwarming, indeed.

Well, not exactly. We close with a voiceover from Kenneth and then a shot of him pleading about humanity’s goodness to some unseen observer. While I enjoy the hints 30 Rock gives towards Kenneth’s mysterious, possibly immortal background, this ending didn’t quite work for me.

I guess that’s the most I can say about this episode in general: it didn’t quite work for me. However, it still had plenty of laughs. Here’s to hoping Fey and co. ramp it up for Baldwin’s last season.


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