30 Rock Finale Recap: Lemon Out!

30 Rock - Season 7Tracy Jordan, you beautiful, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”-singing, Black Crusaders-fearing manchild.

Were it not for you and the clause in your ridiculous contract – which promises you $30 million if TGS doesn’t make it to 150 episodes – there’d be no reason for Liz and the gang to return to the studio for one last go. Hence, we’d miss out on a 30 Rock series finale that’s funny, touching and stuffed like a Cheesy Blaster with shout-outs to the (real) NBC comedy’s seven-season run.

So let’s work on our night cheese, reminisce about our time dating Mickey Rourke (blerg) and grimace at our mom’s friend Ron as we review the major events of “Hogcock!”/”Last Lunch.”

RELATED | Exclusive 30 Rock Video: Did Tina Fey Ever Go to There? Your Very Last Burning Qs Answered!

JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT… | With TGS off the air, Liz is an unhappy stay-at-home mom. Her ennui manifests itself in a visit to Jack, who has nailed the position of Kabletown CEO but is experiencing a similar emptiness in his life. They both pay calls to new NBC CEO Kenneth. Liz pitches him a sitcom based on the story of her life, “A woman writer, living in New York…” but he cuts her off by saying everything she’s just mentioned is on his list of “TV no-no words,” which also includes “shows about shows,” “Justin Bartha” and “immortal characters.” (Ha!) She later tries again, but Kenneth passes and instead drops this news: Per Tracy’s aforementioned contract, she’s gotta come back for one more TGS.

Meanwhile, Jack’s consultation with Kenneth fires up the older man to dominate his happiness the way he crushes business, and we’re treated to a montage that includes Donaghy systematically making things right. He spends quality time with his daughter. He has a Forrest Gump-like moment in a church choir. And — perhaps the most impressive — he gets Julianne Moore’s Nancy and Salma Hayek’s Elisa (Skyped in from a Puerto Rican prison) to agree to a group relationship. Even with his home life in order and having “pissed off my enemies – Pelosi, Maddow, Baldwin” (ha!), Jack still can’t figure out what’s missing.

So when Liz stomps into his office and demands a job, she’s shocked to hear that he’s resigned as Kabletown’s head honcho… and he won’t help her find a new gig, because work is never going to make her happy. “Oh my god,” she says, realization dawning. “This whole time, you’ve been telling me how to run my life, you didn’t know what you were talking about. You’re just an alcoholic with a great voice.” (I waited for a joke line to lighten that burn. It didn’t come. Ouch.)

The interaction gets nastier, with both agreeing that they’re nothing more than co-workers. “So we ruined each other. Good to know,” she spits. (Between this argument and Jim and Pam’s terrible phone call last week, NBC comedies, you are ruining me.) The moment is broken (hilariously, thank goodness) by Jonathan gleefully running in and banishing Liz for good. “Get out of our lives!”

Everyone returns to the set, so let’s just break the rest of the episode down by character.

JENNA | After grandly announcing her plans to advance her career, Jenna fails at primetime TV (as a too-vocal Law & Order: SVU corpse) and at making a splash in Hollywood (her “Shut it down” when she realized she was the oldest person at the airport made me laugh out loud). The blonde’s intention to hit Broad-WAY is interrupted by playing therapist to Jack, who’s rapidly falling apart, and by maintaining that there’s no one on TGS she’ll really miss. That’s not actually true: She and Tracy have a soggy embrace before their “Hitler to Hitler” scene, and she tearfully sings the song from Rural Juror to close out TGS‘ run; lyrics as follows:
The Irma Luhrmer-Merman murder
Turned the bird’s world lurid
The whir and the purr of a twirler girl
She would the world were demurer
The insurer’s allure for valor were pure Kari Wuhrer
One fervid whirl over her turgid error
Rural Juror
Rural Juror

[Chorus]
I will never forget you, Rural Juror
I’ll always be glad I met you, Rural Juror
I will never forget you, Rural Juror
I’ll always be glad I met you, Rural Juror
These were the best days of my…. flurm

TRACY | When a faux weather stunt involving Today weatherman Al Roker doesn’t shut down production, Tracy hides out in a strip club where he and Liz wind up having the episode’s most heartfelt conversation. (Unlikely, I know. But it works!) She tells him the brutal, touching truth: “Working with you is hard, Tracy. You frustrated me and you wore me out. But because the human heart is not properly connected to the human brain, I love you. And I’m gonna miss you.” He later signs off TGS‘ last hurrah in meta style, with the entire cast and crew flanking him: “Thank you, America. That’s our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke’s on you, because we got paid anyway.”

PETE | After dropping many hints throughout the episode, Pete fakes his death – a plan he’s apparently had for some time now.

LUTZ | Despite the writing staff’s desire for one last blowout on the company dime, it’s Lutz’s turn to choose the eatery… and he wants Blimpie’s sandwiches as a payback for all of the beatings he’s taken over the years. Much cajoling and arguing takes place before Liz locks the doughy scribe in her office and issues an executive order for sushi and cake. But Lutz sneaks out through the drop ceiling and falls flat on the table, destroying the upscale eats and ultimately getting his way.

JACK | Donaghy’s crisis continues with him giving away his earthly possessions, delivering a monologue from Our Town and leaving a suicide-note video for Liz. But when she finally finds him, he’s actually just preparing for a long, soul-searching trip on the boat he just bought. Jack manages to tell Liz he loves her – in the least romantic yet most touching way possible – and sets out… only return to the dock a moment later.  “Nevermind, I just figured it all out. I’m turning around,” he cries, excited about his new business idea. “Clear dishwashers!”

ONE YEAR LATER | In the episode’s final moments: Pete’s wife Paula finds her very much alive hubby and hauls him home; Liz happily balances being a mom and working on Grizz & Herz, a comedy starring the long-suffering member of Tracy’s entourage; Jenna gives the Tony Awards audience something to sing about; Tracy bonds with his dad, who’s finally back from buying cigarettes; and Jack is firmly re-ensconced in the corporate world (complete with a comely female secretary).

But then… we cut to Kenneth in his NBC prez office, holding a snowglobe of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (St. Elsewhere shout-out!) as he’s pitched a show – which takes place at 30 Rock — by a glasses-wearing young woman who says she based the idea on her great-grandmother’s stories. (Aw, what cute progeny Liz and Criss have!) “I know,” the eternally youthful Kenneth says with a grin as all manner of futuristic transportation glides by his window. “And I love it.”

Now it’s your turn. Grade the finale in the poll below and then hit the comments with lines that had you lizzing and your favorite guest-star moments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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34 Comments
  1. Eric says:

    Goodbye, 30 Rock. The days I spent watching you were the best days of my flurm.

  2. HoosierAnthony says:

    Blerg.

  3. Billy says:

    A great end to a great show…there are soooo many great moments but I LOVE the rural juror song…when can I buy it so I can listen to it again :-)

  4. Thank you for putting all of the lyrics to the Rural Juror song up. That had to be the best part. That and Liz Lemon talking about “eating my night cheese and transitioning pajamas into daytime.”

  5. Line says:

    it was amazing, it was soo nice and like everything we wanted, and jane singing at the end…it made me cry so badly…I have to talk to some food about this!

  6. I thought the pitch in the future ending was hilariously cute. I’d ask why Kenneth was still so cheery after 75-100 years when all of Liz and Jack’s generation is dead, but I realized he now has the greatgranddaughter to keep him happy as they share memories together

  7. Love them addressing Kenneth’s immortality!!!!

  8. Mike says:

    Even if it has ended I will continue to say “I want to go there” every chance I get.

  9. goldfish says:

    that was pretty devastating.
    That scene with Liz & Tracy, Jane, oh i’m sorry, Jenna’s real tears. Liz “I love you”.

    Fantastic finale.

  10. Babybop says:

    Loved it! My favorite part was the snowicane… “Some white lady name like Dorva or something.”

  11. Steven says:

    Star Wars fan Liz Lemon should appreciate they managed to have a twin-pod Cloud Car–the kind that escorted the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City on Bespin–buzz by Kenneth’s office window in the final few seconds.

  12. Mike says:

    The TV no-no words had me cracking up, classic 30 Rock there.

  13. Erika says:

    It was as close to a perfect ending of a show that I can recall. Pitch perfect in comedy and bringing it home for all the fans. Laughed out loud and shed a few tears. I’ll miss you LL.

  14. Shikouchi says:

    Barrett Doss as the great granddaughter Eliza Lemon (according to the credits), was adorable, and a very sweet touch. And as always, Kenneth’s immortality is always a plus.

  15. TV Gord says:

    I’m so happy that it ended this beautifully! While the thought of this show being gone is poppywash, I can see that it was time. I always cherish shows that end well over beloved shows that drag on too long.

  16. big cheddar says:

    Thank you, 30 Rock, for introducing me to cupcake sandwiches.

  17. TV Gord says:

    I want to go to The Rurrrrr Jurrrrrr on Brrroadwurrrrr.

  18. They didn’t Seinfeld it! Such a great send-off for an amazing show — I’m truly going to miss it.

  19. Rhythm Nation says:

    Loved it. Love how Kenneth ended up running the network, just like Jack predicted during that poker game in the first season. Also loved that he got back to what he loved doing…innovating.

  20. Kate says:

    Whatever scrooges rated this as a C, D or F need to go spend some time with puppies and cheer the hell up. This finale was perfection.

  21. bye-bye 30 Rock. :( says:

    Nerds! (forever!)

  22. canadian ninja says:

    “Stupid Jonathan!!!”

    So completely satisfying and freaking hillarious. Only way it could have been better is if Pete had gotten away with his escape plan or if Frank & Toofer had just thrown Lutz out the window.

  23. OMED-Josh says:

    I generally liked the finale, (the Al Roker bit was the best), but most importantly it finally enabled me to figure out what my “can’t quite put my finger on it” problem with most of the last few seasons has been.

    I don’t / didn’t care a whit about the Jack / Liz relationship, and as that became more and more what the show was about, it meant less time for the things I did like. (Particularly Pete, and the shenanigans of the writing staff.)

    Still the show never got un-watchable, and kept me with it ’till the end.

  24. Sarabi says:

    Tina Fey, thank you for everything!
    30 Rock will rock forever!

  25. Arie says:

    They should’ve had Rachel Dratch cameo.

  26. Shifty says:

    I was so happy that Liz did go ahead and call Tracy on his birthday the next year. One of the funniest shows ever. I will definitely miss it.

  27. Amaia says:

    I will never forget you 30 Rock, I’ll always be glad I met you 30 Rock.

    And thanks Tina for creating it and to the awsome cast.

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