Episode: “Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land” (Season Four, Episode 21)

Summary: The love triangle between Jack, Avery and Nancy becomes further complicated when an unexpected visit leads to some unexpected results. Meanwhile, on the eve of Floyd’s wedding, Liz re-visits all of her significant ex-boyfriends hoping that maybe she missed something and one of them really was Mr. Right.

Review: As the season finale of 30 Rock approaches, the romance pictures for both Jack and Liz just seem to get cloudier. While Jack promises Avery (Elizabeth Banks) that he’ll use the weekend to sort things out, a surprise visit from Nancy (Julianne Moore) changes things. Determined to sort things out once and for all, Jack decides to keep the weekend completely asexual. The situation for Liz isn’t any better as she must attend three weddings in one day sans date (but she would still like two meals) including the wedding of her ex, Floyd (Jason Sudeikis). At her age, she reasons, she’s met all the guys there are to meet and she more than likely met the right one for already:

  • Liz: I’ve dated plenty of good guys, my standards have just been too high.
  • Frank: Yeah, they have. Meet in the handicap stall in 10 seconds.

Let the downward spiral begin.

Unfortunately for Jack, his unromantic plans for Nancy, which include a documentary about female circumcision and eating too much Indian food, get derailed thanks to the powerful combination of red lingerie and a woman who has aged very well. Moore is sexier than she is funny, so you’ll hear no complaints from me about that powerful duo. The Catholic guilt eventually catches up with Jack when he finds out he’s only the second man with whom Nancy has ever slept and it’s at this point that the episode does a good job in demonstrating that love her or leave her dichotomy that has been building up all season. We know he feels he made a mistake, as evidenced by when he jams the fork into his leg, but we also know he wants to be upfront with Nancy, as evidenced by his attempt at a confession during Floyd’s wedding. I’m anxious to see what will happen, but I feel like the finale is really going to have to surprise me in how this plot thread is closed. If there’s one complaint I have against 30 Rock, it’s that the show is a bit incestuous in relying on itself to keep the relationships interesting. We know that neither Moore nor Banks will stick around for much longer, seeing as they’re primarily film actors. Danny (Cheyenne Jackson) fit like a glove upon his inclusion, but his appearances haven’t been frequent. Similarly, the time spent with Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters), Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm) and Wesley (Michael Sheen) have all been hilarious, but they’re all tragically flawed.

Speaking of the devils, they all make appearances in this episode while Liz is re-examining her ex-boyfriend Rolodex, a.k.a., “sexual time travel,” and subsequently remind us what made their past appearances hilariously endearing: Drew lost both his hands, which are now replaced with hooks, due to his own stupidity; Wesley is obnoxious and stubborn in his assertion that Liz will find no one better than he; and Dennis, the highlight of the episode, is crass, self-absorbed and trying to Balloon Boy a kid he found in a program that pairs troubled adults with child mentors. “Hey Dummy. You know, as soon as my beeper went off I knew it was you,” he says to Liz. “I have a personalized vibration for every chick I used to put it to.” Tell me that when he yelled to a retreating Liz, “you’ll be back,” you didn’t partially/entirely wish it were true?

Yet it’s Wesley, the man who continuously re-appears in her life, with whom Liz is apparently meant to be. Coincidentally paired with Liz at Cerie’s wedding, he almost has her convinced that he and Liz are meant to be together due to the sheer fact that she can’t find anybody else. With a simple twist of fate, however, Liz meets a charming member of Floyd’s bridal party, who happens to have a nice job (he’s a lawyer) and has a nice-shaped head! But he’s also a Plushy, the kind of guy who likes to have orgies while dressed as a mascot. Now, Wesley definitely has her convinced. At first, I was a bit upset when Liz walks down to the obnoxious Brit with a declaration of defeat – “Fine, you win. Let’s get married.” – but I quickly realized that the show has been delightfully irreverent for four seasons now. Why switch things up this late in the game? Liz’s absurd and relenting approach to love is sort of a nice, quirky change from the standard sitcom mundanity.  Plus, next week’s episode features Matt Damon, so who knows what’ll happen!

Crammed in between these two stories is a less interesting and far less funny thread involving Dot Com and Kenneth trying to get Tracy to recall his repressed past in order to tap into emotional depths in order to win the Oscar for his EGOT.  For the most part, this thread is forgettable until the wretchedly painful memories of Tracy’s youth come flooding back.  Highlights (or low lights) include:

  • Sleeping on an old dog bed stuffed with wigs
  • Watching a prostitute stab a clown
  • A basketball hoop that was a rib cage.  A rib cage!

Shame on those who chose to neglect the brief snippet after the closing credits as even more painful and immensely funny memories come flooding out of Tracy.

Grade: B

Favorite Quote: [Liz] – “And now an unscheduled reading that I think is appropriate for this lovely, romantic occasion.  [Begins reading Genesis 38:9]  ‘But Onan knew the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground…’”

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