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30 Rock 2.15: I Will Not Fail You, Rainbow Chicken Monday, May 12, 2008

Posted by The Bad One in 30 rock, more indepth than probably need-be, nbc, Reasons why I am single, The Bad One, Things too long to read.
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Our exterior shot suggests Jack is entering the OEOB, but our interior says “old West Wing set”. He’s on the phone with Liz, who’s eating her Sabor de Soledad at the kitchenette. She recalls the simpler time when Jack was still at GE, rather than this strange and terrifying world of one week hence. Jack will be working in Homeland Security, working on Extreme Weather Preparedness (like…tornadoes that go BASE jumping?) and the War on the Poor. “You mean the War on Poverty?” suggests Liz. Jack: “Yeah, OK. Let’s go with that.” Liz confirms with him that he’s never coming back. Jack: “I’m sorry, Lemon, but there’s nothing left for me at GE. Sure, Geiss could come out of the coma and say, ‘Jackie boy [FORESHADOWING], you’re the next CEO,’ but that’s not likely. The cryogenicists are already sharpening their head-saws.” He mocks her for eating the off-brand Mexican Cheetos, but she counters that she found a prize in them last week. She hopes. Jack cuts her off; it’s time for his Freedom Search. The security guard pulls on his rubber gloves and puts a penlight between his teeth. Yikes, I wonder what happens to a guy like Rahim.

Tracy asks Liz for input on character design for his porn video game. The worlds are so clear in his head, but the translation hasn’t been smooth. He does have a working title, Gorgasm: The Legend of Dongslayer. Frank apologizes: He’ll call the Korean animators. Tracy: “Yeah! You fixulate this! Liz Lemon, do you know what it’s like to be the only one who cares about your job? When everyone around is goofing off like a bunch of goof-offs?” Liz tearfully acknowledges that she does. Seeing this outbreak of emotions, Tracy wonders if Liz is having her “woman times”. Not getting slapped is the first confirmation, but Liz tells him, “I just had my woman times last…oh boy.” Dun dun CREDITS!

This is going to be a long recap, so strap in.

Kenneth enters Pete’s office. “Mr. Hornberger, I was wondering if I could ask you to write a recommendation for me to be a page at the XXIX Summer Olympics in Beijing.” Kenneth, of course, pronounces “XXIX” phonetically. He asks Pete whether he ever wanted to go to the Olympics. Flash back to 1980 when a young, mustachioed archer named Pete Hornberger gets the news that he won’t be going to Moscow due to President Carter’s boycott. Back in the present, Pete was actually anticipating Kenneth’s request, since the applications are due that day. Kenneth is surprised to hear this; the memo he got said they weren’t due for another two weeks. He leaves to go write his personal essay.

On his way out the door, he finds Donny waiting for him. The Head Page abused his position to send Kenneth the erroneous memo. Such is the means of his vengeance. “Saboteur!” exclaims Kenneth. Donny feels confident that he’ll be the one headed to Beijing, but Kenneth Parcell reminds him the day isn’t over yet.

Jack enters his new office, under three brass nameplates: “DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY”, “TORNADOES”, and “FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION”. Beneath them, in hand-written letters: “Space for Rent”. He meets his new colleague played by Matthew Broderick, “Cooter Burger, Vice Chair of Farm Subsidies, acting head of FEMA, temporary acting head of the FPC while the acting head is on trial.” Jack expresses his surprise at the number of shakeups involved there. Cooter: “I couldn’t disagree with you more. The administration has been streamlined. And the media are so obsessed with the election they’ve completely forgotten that we’re here. It’s an exciting time.” 1.) While talking with Jack, the phone rings, so he picks it up and sets it back on the receiver. 2.) The subject-verb agreement on “media” and “are” warms the cockles of my heart. Jack: “I don’t like to think of this president as a lame duck. I prefer to think of him as a lame eagle.” Water (hopefully) starts dripping onto Jack’s new desk. “The ceiling appears to be leaking,” he observes. Cooter: “No, it’s not. We’ve looked into it, and it’s not.” He writes down his extension on a Post-It using a nail. Jack: “You don’t have pens?” Cooter, knee-jerk: “We’re not in a recession!” They set off for a meeting with Appropriations.

Liz ransacks Jenna’s desk in her dressing room until she finds an “E.R.T.” pregnancy test. Cut to Liz holding up four of them, all marked PREGNANT. Liz: “MOTHER-!” She marches into Jack’s office, only to be brought up short when she sees Cathy Geiss amidst her stuffed unicorns and Wahlbergilia. She rambles a bit, asking Cathy to be her sounding board. Cathy simply looks intimidated…until pulling a Matchbox car out of her mouth. Liz doesn’t find this encouraging and leaves. Cathy puts the car back in her mouth.

Grizz and Jenna are in the sound booth, running lines for Tracy’s video game. You can see the setup coming for the joke at the end a mile away.

Liz calls Jack, controlling the panic in her voice as best she can while waving a positive pregnancy test around.

Appropriations meeting. One official declares that he can’t support $9M for Portland to shore up its dam system because of the swear word there. He’d be OK with it if it were called a “God-finger.” The one female official registers here annoyance with Randall’s religious obsession, but Jack interrupts. “Gentlemen, madam: We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day [Randall: “Well, that’s one theory”]. We have a chance to make this country great again. We need hope. We need change. We need experience. We need pens.”

Kenneth is pacing back and forth when Jenna finds him. He’s been trying to finish his Beijing application. Donny has been lurking behind a curtain, and he steps out to tell Kenneth (in Chinese) to give up. Kenneth (also in Chinese): “I will not fail, Chief Errand Boy Donny Lawson!” Jenna: “I was told there would be no nudity!” Pause. “That’s the only thing I know how to say in Chinese.” Donny oozes off.

Kenneth confides in Jenna that he’s been having trouble with the essay, since he has trouble bragging about himself, and he doesn’t know what a “backdoor brag” is when Jenna asks him about that. She explains it using the example “It’s hard for me to watch American Idol, because I have perfect pitch.” Kenneth can’t even pull that one off. He dumps his application in the trash, but Jenna fishes it out…along with a positive pregnancy test. Jenna: “Oh no. Someone’s gonna get more attention than me.”

Cooter and Jack pedeconference in what I like to think of as a West Wing homage. He’s amazed by Jack’s dynamic style. “I haven’t felt this energized at work since the two weeks where they tried to teach us Farsi.” He’s interrupted when Jack gets a phone call from Jonathan. “Geiss spoke. He’s not out of the coma, but he spoke…He said ‘Jackie boy’.” [I TOLD YOU]

Jack tries to tender his resignation, but Cooter refuses it. Jack argues that the head of GE serves his country. “He provides jobs, fuels innovation. He brings good things to life!” He caps the speech by whipping the shade off his desk lamp…revealing a burning candle. Awesome. Cooter tells Jack that even if he allowed the resignation, his boss wouldn’t because they don’t want anyone leaving, so Jack is stuck. In walks a guy with Jack’s miracle pens, leaving Cooter manic.

Liz enters Jenna’s dressing room. “Hello, friend.” Jenna: “Oh my God, you’re pregnant!” She doesn’t mention the positive test she found in the trash, instead backdoor-bragging that people underestimate her instincts because of her looks. She asks if Liz has called Floyd yet, assuming that he’s the father. This is not so much the case. Jenna: Yes, it’s Dennis. Liz defends herself, “It was before he tried to throw me under the subway train!” She doesn’t think it’s fair that Jenna sees herself as the only one allowed to make sex mistakes. “You had a three-way with Roseanne and Tom Arnold!” Jenna: “That was two years ago!” At any rate, Liz has decided that Dennis can’t be involved, since he is a “Class A moron“, so Liz will just have to be a kick-ass single mom. “Like Erin Brockovich. Or Sarah Connor.” Despite it being the Spawn of Dennis, Liz is excited about being a mom. Jenna tells her to go to the doctor for a blood test to make sure. “And while you’re there, try to get me some Adderall.” Adderall? I thought Jenna would opt for something more…fun. It’s not like she’s cramming for finals or something.

Jack can’t believe he’s trapped in his new job. Cooter can’t believe his best friend wants to leave him. Jack asks if Cooter himself has ever thought about leaving. Cooter: “Every day for two years. Look at these resignation letters. They’re written in ketchup, dirty rock, leak water.” But now Jack has brought them pens! He opens the box, only to find it’s a box of pen-caps. Jack: “Cooter…” “That’s not my name,” he snaps. “My name is James Riley. ‘Cooter Burger’? What do you think I am, a cartoon dog? The President named me that.” Jack: “Two nicknames?” James: “‘Cooter’ because I look like a turtle. And ‘Burger’ because…because he saw me eating a hamburger. One time! We have to get out of here.” They decide to cooperate on getting fired.

Liz walks into her apartment to find Dennis sitting on the couch. Apparently he’s been coming there during the past couple of weeks, hiding out during the day because he told his mom he got a job. He’s been listening to her answering machine, and he heard one come in from Dr. Bouvier’s office saying they’ll call back. Dennis: “I know that message. And I know that tone. Every one of my sisters got that message junior year in high school. You’re pregnant!” Liz denies it, but Dennis grabs a bag from the pharmacy and finds pre-natal vitamins in it, and he knows what “pre-natal” means: “‘Pre’ – before. ‘Natal’ – ruined.” Dennis has big plans for this kid already. “First things first, we’re gonna have this baby at the same hospital I was born at on Coney Island, alright? Secondly, if it’s a boy we’re gonna name him ‘Morpheus’ like that guy in The Matrix. If it’s a girl, ooh yeah, I used to boff this chick named Judy and I would love to honor her.” Liz has heard enough. “Get out of my apartment!” Dennis: “Don’t talk to me like that. Morpheus hears everything you say.”

Kenneth is combing a coat in Tracy’s dressing room. “You must have been such a pretty monkey.” In walks Jenna with a DVD personal essay she recorded on his behalf. Just watch the clip.

It’s a great character moment for Jenna, combining her own runaway ego with her genuine affection and desire to help Kenneth achieve his Olympic dream. Kenneth is touched by her act, and thrilled to have a shot at Beijing. He has twenty minutes left to get his application in and he thinks he’s going to make it, but then Cerie finds him. Someone was looking for him to get twelve boxes of copier paper to Stage 1. “Duty before self,” Kenneth declares in Chinese. “I will not fail you, Rainbow Chicken.”

Jack and James are colluding for failure. Jack: “Whatever we come up with has got to be wasteful, embarrassing to the administration, and upsetting to the voters.” James thinks he might have it. “In 1994, the Pentagon explored the possibility of a non-lethal chemical weapon that would ‘reduce enemy soldiers’ combat posture by making them totally gay-bones for each other.'” Jack isn’t surprised to hear that the project was abandoned in the planning stages. “It would have been expensive, impractical, and offensive to both the red states and the gayer blue states.” They’ve found a guaranteed disaster and Jack has a friend in Congress who could help them get the money for it.

Tracy hands Frank a copy of his prototype game. Frank is honored to be a part of it, and touched to learn that he got an “Additional Filth By” credit.

Kenneth stacks the last of the boxes on Stage 1, but it was a futile task, orchestrated by Donny to keep Kenneth from getting his application in. He only has 30 seconds left to get to the 27th floor. Donny grabs Kenneth’s shoulders and cackles with glee, which turn to howls of pain when Pete shoots him in the leg with an arrow in a gross violation of three different sections of the GE Personal Conduct Policy. Kenneth heads for his dream, hurdling a Piso Mojado sign.

A panicked Liz calls Jack, but gets his voicemail again. Kenneth runs by, hurdling chairs, snatching up a pole to press the elevator button, and flipping inside. He sprints out the doors but finds his way to the NBC Sports office blocked by a ribbon declaring “WET PAINT” and the painters themselves. With time running out and the door closing, Kenneth spins and lets fly his discus, which flies true and lands inside the office. Kenneth breaks the ribbon in triumph and pukes in a paint bucket.

Jack and James take their proposal to Jack’s friend in Congress: C.C. Jack points out to her that she’s in his debt due to some sexual favors he performed. She agrees to try to get the gay bomb approved, but warns that it could take weeks. This must be fast-track legislation.

Back in his candle-lit office for dinner, Jack reviews the voicemails he missed from Liz. He gets her running commentary on the possible pregnancy, the Dennis situation, her excitement about having a child. And then her final disappointment to learn she’s not pregnant.

Liz gets a knock on her door. It’s Jack. “It was the cheese curls,” she tells him, “causing the false positives on my home pregnancy tests. Apparently Sabor de Soledad gets its special tangy flavor from evaporated bull semen.” Jack: “That explains your hair’s thickness and shine.” Even with this revelation, Liz hasn’t been able to put them down. She was really excited about being a mom, and she’s decided that she wants to adopt. Artificial insemination isn’t an option as she can’t go to a sperm bank; “The Duffy men use those like ATMs.” Jack: “Lemon, I want to assist you.” Liz: “What?” Pause. Jack: “With an adoption. Good lord, Lemon, with an adoption! I know a lot of well-connected people.” He even got a presidential nickname: The Jacker. Still beats “Turd Blossom.”

Three months later: At the Pentagon, Jack and James are in a meeting to conclude that the gay bomb could not be effectively weaponized. Jack: “The chemical dissipates harmlessly in open tactical environments. It could frankly only work if we could get the enemy into a closed, unventilated space.” James: “Ooh, pens!” He reaches for one and knocks over the glass cylinder of “chemical”, setting off a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violation.

Frank comes over to Tracy’s dressing room. “Dude, I played this thing for a couple hours. It’s OK, I guess.” Tracy reveals that Frank’s been in his office for three months. Tracy: “Yes! I’m gonna be a billionaire!”

In Beijing, Kenneth lounges on his bed with a hot Chinese lady. His robe is decorated with his NBC flair. In bursts a Chinese guy with a pistol, and we have our “cliffhanger”.

I love this show so much I want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant. I like that we’ve had storylines set up for next season without leaving too much in the lurch. I do wonder whether we’ll see any dropped storylines get picked up: We never found out about Cerie’s wedding, for one thing. Jack’s struggle to get back to the top at GE should be a good story to follow, and I have to believe Will Arnett will be making another appearance or two.

Another wonderful thing about this show is the random things they work in that most people don’t even notice. There’s a freeze-frame moment in this one when Kenneth is delivering his copier paper. He walks past a podium with some cue cards in a basket on its side. They read “You gotta know whether you’re a creature or if you’re an android.” “Well, I’m playing Queen Amidala. Who is a a human, I think.” “You think?” It’s throwaway stuff, but it adds to the show’s universe. Pete’s bow and arrow are hanging up in his office in the first act, Liz’s pregnancy test is labeled “OVER 10% ACCURATE”, Dennis is wearing an Islanders jersey customized with “DENNIS 08”, and the setup with the Sabor de Soledad that started in Subway Hero: They’re the little things that add up to my favorite show on TV.

We may be out of new episodes for a while, but I hope to have time to do a few more posts. I want to run through some of my favorite moments from this season, and I’ve also dug up the original unaired pilot with Rachel Dratch in the Jenna role. It’s interesting to consider after two seasons where it might have gone with a different actor. Thanks to Yostal for being my sounding board, and thanks to all of you for reading.



1. Yostal - Monday, May 12, 2008

You, my friend, are a Class A Reviewer. I am saddened that we’re low on new episodes, but I salute your continued effort to get us new material. Huzzah and kudos.

And that GE Personal Conduct Policy has a lot of sections, doesn’t it?

2. Rockabye - Monday, May 12, 2008

This show was ridiculous. Absolutely brilliant.

Much like the review.

3. DougOLis - Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fan..tas…tic – Both the episode and the recap.

I loved the poor English-Chinese translation of “peacock” to “rainbow chicken.” It’s the small details like that, that get me.

Pete shooting Donny was beautiful; not enough bow-n-arrow violence these days.

Why does Dubya call Karl Rove “turd blossom?” Where’d that come from? BTW, GQ just did a pretty interesting interview with him.

4. Mint - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

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5. Mint - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thank you for good information~~*

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6. Loan holder - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Very nice blog! Keep up with the good work.

7. peter chen - Friday, July 24, 2009

the cool thing about the bow and arrow is that they’re not there before pete’s flashback (there’s pictures of his kids), but are there after.

8. Shawn Lei - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“I loved the poor English-Chinese translation of “peacock” to “rainbow chicken.” It’s the small details like that, that get me.”

Me and my friend came up with that translation.

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