It's a trip down memory lane in 30 Rock's newest episode, "Apollo Apollo." First Dennis Duffy returns to "atone" to Liz for his past behavior, citing the fact that he has recently self-diagnosed as a sex addict and probably just didn't know what he was doing, and then Jack's mother sends him a box of his childhood memories-- including home movies!-- for his birthday. Well, not entirely for his birthday; she also just needed the space in the garage. Nonetheless, it sends both spiraling down the rabbithole that was their craptastic pasts in order to make way for what will hopefully be only fun and free futures. Liz was even planning on going for a run today! Which, if nothing else, caused plenty of chuckles from characters and viewers alike.
Since Jenna is otherwise engaged-- getting a wire lesson from a hot stuntman-- Liz answers her cell phone when it rings, only to find Dennis on the other end, making the same atonement he made to her only two scenes before! Liz dons an oddly British accent to impersonate Jenna, and Dennis just keeps talking, not noticing anything is different. He says he would have come down there in person, too, but considering he was the "love of Liz' life," he doesn't think she could have handled that.
Dennis says he doesn't want this to hurt Liz and Jenna's friendship, and Liz is determined not to let it. After all, how many times have we seen a guy come between two NBC sitcom stars??? They decide to team up to show Dennis that he can't get away with being so pompous as to think he actually means something to them, let alone more than their fifteen-year relationship with each other...though they do differ on the method, as Liz wants to give him a piece of her mind, and Jenna wants to stab him. I gotta say, after the faulty bookshelves, the To Catch A Predator experience, and the attempt at pushing Liz in front of an oncoming train just so he could "save" her, I'm with Jenna on this one!
Confronting Dennis proves to be a bad idea, though, as Liz learns that Dennis and Jenna slept together while she was supposedly still with him, even though she was physically in Arizona on an adult outward bound trip. Liz holds her ground, saying there is nothing he could do to hurt her or the friendship, but then he pulls the Wild Card! "It was in your bed," about which she is repulsed because she "eat[s] in there!" And the next time Jenna is up on the wire, when Liz notices her harness is not secured, she doesn't say anything and instead just lets her fall into the doghouse. Wordplay!
Tracy, meanwhile, has given a press conference, with the consent of no one, stating that he would like to go into space. When he was a little boy, growing up in the projects, he would look up at the stars and dream of going up there and "...killing an Ewok." Jack understands, having just been forced to reflect on his own childhood dreams (which he read aloud from an old sheet of notebook paper, and which included gems like "live in a house with stairs," "ride in an airplane," and "kiss Peggy Fleming"). He decides not to crush Tracy's dreams, so he tells Liz to use her "TV magic" and fake a space launch...which is pretty much what my dad thinks the moon landing was all about anyway. Of course, she gets Pete and the rest of her staff right on it.
At just under halfway through the episode, though, things take a mighty surprising turn as all of a sudden Muppet Jack breaks out into a few bars of a song about how Kenneth, who is still reeling from his own "birthday loot" of a bobble-head keychain, "is pretty special" to see the world through such rose-colored glasses (metaphorically, of course). "Muppet Jack," however, is not a metaphor, but an actual puppet we see standing in front of Kenneth, because suddenly we are seeing through his eyes. It's the best four-point-five seconds of this show ever, and I wish I had screencap software for it!! It is also when Jack realizes he has already surpassed his wildest dreams and now just has a big house full of material goods from business associates to show for it. He gets Adam West to appear at his party, but Adam gets his name wrong, and suddenly, Kenneth's world looks even better, even to him!
Liz arrives at Jack's after he has kicked everyone out and is just staring at a freezeframe of himself at six years old on one of the home movies. He wonders what happened to that happy little tyke and how he can get it back. He tries to figure out what was in the box that six year old Jack received for his birthday that made him so happy; he goes so far as to call in the kid who gave him the gift (who thinks it is a job interview) and then a deaf woman (who also thinks it is a job interview) to read six year old Jack's lips on the no audio DVD. He also mentions Benjamin Button-ing himself, to which Liz exclaims: "We're not meeting in the middle!" But personally, I think it would be more productive to just have her use her "TV magic" to take him on a fake journey back in time to relive his youth.
When Jack reveals that the toy that made him so happy was a model of the Apollo command and lunar module, which he pays seven thousand dollars to get back from a vintage toystore, everything comes full circle. He and Kenneth Skype chat with Tracy, who is "in space," and though Jack says it might be nice to see the world how Tracy does (where everyone looks exactly like Tracy and agrees with everything he says), he just can't help how he has grown to see things (with dollar amounts chyroned over them). Jack leaves the rocket in Kenneth's hands, but surprisingly enough, he doesn't do anything to it to make it go off and alert Tracy to the fact that he is merely on the TGS soundstage. So those two get to spend another day in blissful ignorance.
In order to allow Jenna to "get even" with her for letting her fall twenty feet to a sprained ankle-- her way of getting even with Jenna for sleeping with Dennis-- Liz allows her to tell the TGS staff about the "urban single chat line" commercial she did when she was still trying to make it as an actor in Chicago. In four-point-five seconds, Frank locates it on YouTube, and everyone erupts in laughter at twenty-something Liz with her Billie Jean King hair and lipstick on her snaggletooth trying to be "sexy." Jack in particular turns red and begins to retch, finding what he thought was lost: the place where he is so happy he pukes.
Best lines of the night:
Jack: "Tracy, listen, you cannot go into space. Your contract expressly prohibits dangerous activities, like extreme sports or riding the subway on St. Patrick's Day!"
Jenna: "First of all, the reason I have some English inflection in my speech is because I lost my virginity to the My Fair Lady soundtrack."
Jack: "The closest I came to vomiting tonight was when I saw Ann Coulter's shoulderblades."