30 Rock Recap: Cutback
This episode starts with the team celebrating after their 50th show. 50 hours of dynamite comedy. Instead of arriving backstage to full wine bottles and a party, the crew finds empty wine bottles that are supposed to be used as paperweights. Jack pulls Liz aside and says there are going to be drastic cutbacks; the economy has hit the company hard. The entertainment division will face some of the most severe cutbacks. Jack tells Liz she has to put together a presentation that will be given to a group of cutthroat outside consultants, justifying her budget. Liz tells Jack not to worry, she has some tricks up her sleeve. Jack becomes worried when he finds Lemon means, “Trix up her sleeve”, as in the literal candy cereal up her sleeve.
Jack calls Kenneth to his office and informs Kenneth that he fired Jonathan. Kenneth will fill in for Jonathan while continuing his page duties. Jack tells Kenneth he will be fine if he can just remember the three D’s: Discretion, Docility, and Don’t use Jack’s bathroom. Kenneth answers Jack’s phone and has a hard time lying to the person at the other end. But, budget cutbacks are necessary, so Kenneth will have to do.
Liz Lemon meets the cutthroat consultant, Brad Haulster. She gives a tacky, unconventional presentation that doesn’t impress Haulster. TGS with Tracy Jordan isn’t safe from budget cuts.
A frazzled Kenneth runs into Tracy in the hallway. He tells Tracy there aren’t enough hours in the day to perform his page duties and be Jack’s assistant. He asks Tracy to help him. His bird at home needs to be fed. Tracy begrudgingly agrees to feed Kenneth’s bird. Kenneth gives Tracy a stern, weird warning not to enter his bedroom when he arrives at the house.
A disappointed Liz informs Phil that the consultants demanded TGS cut 25% of their budget. Liz says everything in 30 Rock is crucial to the show. Phil points out Sid the Announcer, who can’t even talk properly anymore. Or, maybe they can cut their food budget. How about they cut back on the $1200 they spend on straws? Nope, Liz wants to keep every last penny.
Jack is in his office firing people; specifically a man from the Boom Box division of the company. Kenneth keeps bursting into Jack’s office at inappropriate times, confirming that he is not meant to be Jack’s assistant.
Tracy goes to Kenneth’s home to feed the bird. Tracy eyes Kenneth’s room, which has a towel jammed between the floor and the door. Tracy makes a move towards the room and the bird starts squawking at Tracy and tells him, “Don’t go in there!” The noisy bird freaks Tracy out and he flees the scene.
Liz waits outside Jack’s office to discuss the budget cuts. Waiting with Liz is a woman with Liz who intends to sleep with Jack in order to keep her job. Her name is Cheryl and she claims this has worked for her before. She suggests that the two of them go into Jack’s office and, “Lez out”, in order for their jobs to be guaranteed. Before she can respond to Cheryl, Liz gets called into Jack’s office. She whines to Jack and tells him she doesn’t want to make any of the budget cuts. Jack tells her tough cookies; this is all just part of the job.
Tracy tells Jenna there is something strange going on in Kenneth’s room. He thinks maybe Kenneth hides dead bodies in the room. From working on Lifetime dramas, Jenna knows that all mass murders have three consistent character traits: cruelty towards animals, wetting the bed, and the inability to read human facial cues. Tracy thinks Kenneth has all these traits and becomes even more freaked out.
Pandemonium at 30 Rock. Since Liz didn’t make any of the budget cuts herself, Brad Haulster started making them on his own. Sid is fired, the straws are gone. Liz tries to take matters into her own hands and asks Brad out for dinner. She intends to hook-up with him in order to save the budget. Tit-for-Tat.
Jack calls Kenneth into his office and reprimands him for the poor job he is doing as Jack’s assistant. He tells Kenneth to think before he speaks. Kenneth is then confronted by Tracy and Jenna. Apparently, thinking before he speaks is very hard for Kenneth to do, and his weird attitude seems to confirm Tracy and Jenna’s suspicions about Kenneth being a mass murderer.
Liz whores out for her date with Haulster. She gives a speech to the crew saying, “they may take my dignity, but they will never take our straws”. The team is inspired.
Tracy and Jenna burst into Kenneth’s room only to find an activated Bug Bomb. They realize Bug Bombs are poisonous, and they leave the house without shutting the door to Kenneth’s room. The poison from the Bug Bomb kills Kenneth’s pet bird.
Cut to the end of Liz’s date with the consultant. He is prepared to drop her off at home, but Liz propositions him. He agrees to come in only after she says he is allowed to say weird things and have full top-frontal access. Remember, she is only doing this to save the budget. But the next day, nothing has changed. The writer’s room is now the headquarters for Telemundo soccer wrap-ups.
Tracy and Jenna tell Kenneth that they killed his bird. Kenneth is upset, both at the fact that they killed his bird and they didn’t trust him.
Liz confronts Haulster about the budget. He says last night was fun, but that budget is just business. Liz tells Haulster that last night was business also, you know, Tit-for-Tat. Haulster is mortified. He tells Liz that he thought it was something special and that his wife had recently died. He can’t believe he would do something so special with someone who thought it was only business. He breaks down. Later, Liz is reprimanded by HR for trying to bribe the consultant with sex. She is ordered to take 2 weeks without pay. Plus, the consultant was forced to go somewhere else and Jack is now in charge of the budget cuts. This is great news! Jack winks at Lemon, acknowledging everything will be all right.
In the end, Tracy and Jenna have a surprise for Kenneth. They apologize for thinking he was a mass murder. And, when he goes home, his place is full with birds.
Recap by Mitch Cumstein