Friday, December 5, 2008

Liz Lemon: The O.G. Mean Girl...

The return of 30 Rock after the Thanksgiving holiday brings not only the return of Don Geiss (Rip Torn), who magically awakens from his coma by the grace of "a beam of energy"-- or an alien-- he's not too sure-- only to decide to stay on as CEO of GE, but also the return of the show in its finest, with an engaging story at the center that just happens to be told by some famous men and women. Tracy is upset that Kenneth got a bigger laugh than him with an elevator crowd; and Liz decides to head to back to her high school reunion... where she learns before Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, Liz Lemon was the original mean girl!

Watching Kathy Geiss press herself against her big office window at 30 Rockefeller makes Jack think that either there's a change in the weather patterns or her father has woken up. Well, it turns out he's right on both counts, but the immediate issue is the whole Geiss thing. He opens his eyes in his hospital bed and asks for Jack by name... only to stand up in front of him, like was never in a coma at all, and tell him he still plans to name Jack his successor if and when he dies. Jack is crushed.

Jack tells Liz he rented a jet anyway to take her to her reunion as promised. Besides, it's on the way to Miami, where he plans to head for a little vacay, but due to inclimate weather, they get trapped in Liz' small, newly dry hometown. Desperate for alcohol not only to numb his upset at the recent professional turn of events but also at the fact that he's stuck in the land of podunkia, Jack follows Liz to her reunion, where he decides to masquerade as "Larry," a classmate everyone seems to love and miss.

Liz, on the other hand, was not loved or missed, and not because she was the giant nerd she remembers herself to be. Instead, the coolest girl in school, Kelsey (Robyn Lively) claims Liz actually made high school hell for her. Liz was a bully who made fun of Kelsey's mom's drug addiction, some girl named Diane's fake leg, and Diane Neal (a big name guest star who almost went unnoticed due to lack of promos and some very good hair and makeup), whose mole Liz used to laugh about, saying "God pooped on your face." Some of Liz' other classmates boo her away in shame, but it appears that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Kenneth, meanwhile, back in New York is a regular laugh riot in the elevator, which upsets Tracy, who feels that entertaining, and especially making people laugh is strictly his territory. Tracy attempts to steal the thunder back from Kenneth, but his "why are their no Puerto Ricans in Star Trek?" is an old Jerry Seinfeld bit and falls flat. He does the only natural thing and brings Jenna in on it, who is shocked to find out Kenneth who once idolized the two of them is now trying to outshine them. She rides the elevator with Kenneth for some firsthand proof, and when no one gives her a second glance but practically rolls on the floor over Kenneth, she performs an impromptu "Wind Beneath My Wings" verse to try to get the focus shifted back to her. And let’s face it, any episode is just infinitely funnier when Jenna sings.

Jack/Larry is hitting if off with everyone especially special guest star Janel Maloney who was once romantically involved with Larry. Something went awry, though, and she hopes he can forgive her. He can and does, mostly because he has no idea what she's talking about, and decides these people, with their simple lives, are what real happiness is all about. They decide to take it back old-school a notch by playing a combination of Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. And I bet you can guess who ends up in the janitorial closet together! No, not Liz and her token flamboyant friend who claims he's as straight as can be and her homosexuality taunts really damaged him, but Jack and Liz, of course! Inside he tells her that he won't be messing around with her because (to steal a line from the theatrical Mean Girls): "it's social suicide." He also accuses her of being just as bad now as she was in high school, citing the impotent comment she made when he went to her for help earlier with Geiss. She pulls out one of the business cards he had made for the CEO position and taunts him with "you went to a printer; you picked out a font" until he runs out of the closet, crying: "Why is she so mean?" as all of her high school victims look on, jaws agape. Now would be the time to boo, guys.

In order to teach Kenneth a lesson for being funny and stealing their jobs, Jenna delivers his lunch, and Tracy gives an NBC tour to a bunch of Japanese tourists. Kenneth apologizes, and Tracy is quick to accept, but Jenna tells him to "keep crying" because she wants him to really feel this one. That only starts Tracy crying, too.

Liz Lemon wins the Most School Spirit Award, but only because the gang wants to "Carrie her"-- you know, like the movie, they are quick to explain to Jack. She doesn't want to accept until she hears it comes with a $50 gift certificate to a steak house, but just as the bucket is about to tip over, Jack comes to her rescue once again and gives an impassioned speech about how "we all make mistakes." In order to cope, he uses "sex and awesomeness," while Liz hides behind insults even though, deep deep down, she's a good person. Janel Maloney tells him how happy they all are to have him back in their lives, and she brings out their teenage lovechild, which is of course when he finally drops the charade and rushes off stage to just another chorus of boos.

Best lines of the night:

Jack's idea of complementing Liz: "Show [her] the ugly duckling has turned into a vaguely ethnic swan."

Jack, slightly drunk and maybe losing it a little, rethinking what would make him happy: "Hey Lemon, check this out, I just made it up: the three B's: beers, boats, and buds. Doesn't that sound great?"
Liz: "Are you having a stroke?"

Jack, on why people believe was in their class even though he's twelve years old than everyone: "Rich fifty is middle class thirty-eight."

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