Turn off the Lights

30 Rock – The Tuxedo Begins

NBC’s Emmy-magnet takes on one of the biggest movie franchises in the world as Liz and Jack slowly transform into a hero and a villain who test New York. Does the city obey the rules or prefer chaos? Is there hope for the lower-middle class or are the rich left on their own? And how did Kenneth realize the water balloons were condoms?

The episode starts of normal with a phone conversation between Liz and Jack. But the plot quickly moves as Liz recalls some of the worst parts of living in the city; full subways, annoying newbees, and smelly gymbags. They all make life seem less bright. Meanwhile Jack is mugged by someone who wasn’t a drug addict or opposed to what guest star Steve Buscemi suggested, Tracy Jordan. Though the episode could’ve easily moved on to other plots without much further ado, we stuck around to explore some social issues. And ridicule Gotham’s politics.

As Liz, who previously preferred life according to rules, realizes the city is no longer built on people helping each other, Jack is afraid life might get worse for the upper class. Even though 30 Rock couldn’t spin these stories in a more ridiculous way, but there’s still a lot to be said for the questions that are raised. In cities that expand until they resemble an anthill, people often start to become more selfish and indifferent. You can try to better the people that cut in line or people who think their conversation is more entertaining than the movie being shown, but until what end? Everybody seems to only care about themselves. Much like the tax payers who want more money, until they have to pay more taxes. Nobody seems to care about the guy next to you on the street or the old lady with the frown lines on the subway. 

A sick Liz goes off the deep end in a grandma suit she had to wear for a commercial. Suddenly, people are forced to get up for her and she gets attention by talking to herself. Jack, still in shock, hasn’t left his office but wants to run for mayor to better the city. But a private police corps with a starting salary of 5 million might not be exactly what the city needs. The transformation of both sides is executed wonderfully as, in a conversation with Kenneth, Liz has cut off all ties with her previous, orderly self. Same goes for Jack, who, despite his champagne losses, still believes that the wealthy can save New York. The stories come to a head on the rooftop, with Jack also known as “The Tuxedo” confronts the old lady previously known as Liz. With a dramatic soundtrack Liz confesses she has been making the city worse for her own enjoyment. Jack utters that there’s a war coming. It all doesn’t make much sense, but with Liz’ mouth expanded over her cheeks by lipstick lines and a flash of something of a cape behind Jack, it’s clear that these are two forces clashing. Good versus evil, control versus chaos... with some obvious Batman versus Joker there too.

The heavy subjects of the two protagonists are delightfully mixed with Jenna and Paul. The two crazy fetish lovers are reunited after Paul’s long absence, which probably had something to do with contract issues or whatever. Now he’s back but instead of cross-dressing or pretending to be squirrels, the two fall asleep on the bed. Assured that they are still their messed up selves, Jenna and Paul conclude that their new fetish is “normalling”, where you visit Cosco and decide where a chair is placed. But unless the entire planet is a freak show, Jenna has to accept that Paul and her might be a normal couple. In a rather loving realizations, the two decide that they must take a break, in which they sleep with as many people possible. If they still want to be normal with each other, it’s meant to be. See? When you and your partner become normal, just go off a sex bender and you'll know if you love each other. 

All in all a delightful episode that had some strong jokes and uncharacteristic points on society. You better think twice before you mug a rich person.



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