“Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish”


Jenna and Paul’s relationship gets shaky, Kenneth plays therapist for Liz, and subsequently Jack has to play therapist for Kenneth. Also, Tracy’s son returns.

Episode Details

S05E09 (509)
First aired
View full dialogue
Kay Cannon
Ken Wittingham
Frank's Hat
Hey, what was that sound? It was opportunity knocking!
No one knocked. You just barged in.
[wearing a t-shirt that says “Opportunity”] Knock, knock.

I shouldn’t even have to explain this, but “opportunity is knocking” means keep your eyes out for opportunities when they present themselves. It’s a stupid joke. However, I know all of you are begging for that t-shirt so you can try that joke yourself, so here it is. There’s also a selection of other odd t-shirts I’ve made as well as some subtly awesome Star Wars t-shirts. Just go buy one.

Okay. You remember Donald. My son who’s two years older than me.
Ah, yes. Please. As I recall you own the Tracy Jordan Institute for Black Karate.

Donald was introduced in S03E21 “Mamma Mia,” pulling the same kind of scammy shenanigans, like the Tracy Jordan Institute for Black Karate.

It’s a theme restaurant in Times Square.
Well, the theme restaurant business model does work. NASCAR Fat Load Cafe is a gold mine.

There are something like a hundred restaurants in Times Square, lots of which are themed, like the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a smattering of classic diners, the Hard Rock Cafe, Mars 2112, not to mention the ethnically themed restaurants.

NASCAR is the national sport of rednecks everywhere. They race cars. But sadly they don’t really have a Fat Load Cafe. Maybe they can get take out from Fatty Fat’s Sandwich Ranch, as featured in S04E03 “Stone Mountain.”

Uh, let’s just bottom-line this thing. I never invest without doing my research. I’ll do a site visit tonight and kick the tires.
All right, but if some other investor comes along it’s your loss. [takes phone out of his pocket] Mexican billionaire’s calling me right now. ‘Scuse me. Uh, señor Mexico, uh, si, si, yo soy Don, si. Ándale, ándale? Arriba, arriba?
What is señor Mexico saying? Stop keepin’ me out the loop!

Okay, I don’t speak Spanish, but I think I got it all. It would translate to: “Uh, Mister Mexico, uh, yeah, yeah, I am Don, yes. Go on, go on? Up, up?”

“¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!” is the catchphrase of Speedy Gonzales, a racist caricature of a mouse featured in Looney Toons cartoons. Cuz he’s fast. And his catchphrase basiclly means “let’s go! Really fast!”

What is it, Liz? We’re busy?
Jenna and I are mirroring until we achieve touchless orgasm. Annnnnnnnnd finished.

Dan & Jennifer tell us this is a real thing. You can supposedly talk your partner to orgasm using topics that turn them on to no end. In Jenna’s case, this would be looking at herself and having someone completely obsessed and focused on her. That would be Paul. And in Paul’s case, being Jenna and making her happy would be his.

Well, I have to go to work. A new manager’s making us wear name tags. We might as well be working at a roller skating drag queen restaurant under Taliban rule.

I figured this roller skating restaurant has been referenced before and I didn’t remember, but nope! Can’t find any mention of it in past episodes. However, I did find this tidbit implying that Liz may be impersonated by a famous Boston drag queen in an upcoming episode! That’s fun, right?

Ohhhhh! We’re celebrating our six month anniversary and I think Paul’s going to pop the question.
Really? That’s a little fast, isn’t it?
And I will say yes when Paul proposes… that we make a sex tape and leak it on the Internet.

Ahhh the classic tape-yourself-having-sex-then-pretend-it-got-out ploy! As popularized by Rob Lowe in 1998 and Paris Hilton in 2003 (hilariously named “1 Night in Paris”).

I don’t know, I always thought the whole point of being with someone for a long time is to get to the comfortable routine part.
No. Relationship are like sharks, Liz. If you’re not left with several bite marks after intercourse then something’s wrong.
Well nothing’s wrong with me and Carol. I mean, we haven’t spoken in five days but that doesn’t mean anything. Because we are not sharks. We’re legless turtles rotting on the beach.

The shark quote is a twisted reference to a line from the 1977 film “Annie Hall”: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

Jack. What makes a guy get bored in a dating situation?
That’s an excellent question. The answer is questions like that.
Look, this long distance is hard. And now Carol and I haven’t talked in like five days, and my other stuff is still… unresolved.

Liz may be referring to when her “junk closed for business,” from S05E05 “Reaganing.” Or just her general sex hang ups from the same episode.

Uch, I’m trying, I just can’t find someone I like. I mean, have you ever been to a shrink?
No. I believe that when you have a problem you talk it over with your priest or your tailor or the mute elevator porter at your men’s club. Then you take that problem and crush it with your mind-vice. But for lesser being like curly-haired men and people who need glasses, therapy can help. And Lemon, I want you to get better. Because, and I mean this, I’m tired of talking this much to a woman I’m not having sex with.

Jack refers to “curly-haired men and people who need glasses” twice in this episode as weak and simpering men. I imagine it’s just a general stereotype, especially people who need glasses. I mean, talk about weak. But it reminds me of the most sensitive man in the world from movie Bedazzled (with the delicious Elizabeth Hurley).

Hey, Jack! Welcome to Staples.
Uh, why did you choose that name?
Because Staples means “the basics,” and that’s what you’re getting here: food, drinks, fun… Staples! Yeah, we got that.
Staples is also a, uh, giant office supply chain.

Staples is a giant office supply chain. And their slogan is “Yeah, we’ve got that.”

Well, we’ll see who’s still in business two hundred years from now.

Okay, this is only barely related, but the oldest company in the world was Kongō Gumi, a Japanese construction company founded in 578 A.D. It operated continuously for over 1,400 years. That’s insane. They specialized in building temples. It was purchased by another company in 2006. How can you do that!? How can you sell the oldest company in the world? For shame!

Jack, are you familiar with the mega-restaurant Medieval Times? Well, I took that model and replaced the knights with unlicensed versions of Japanese monsters.

Medieval Times is a theme restaurant with nine North American locations. It’s a castle-restaurant thing where you sit around a huge dirt arena and they put on medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting followed by a tournament, and they serve you a “medieval feast.” The Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas also puts on a show called the Tournament of Kings which is very similar.

[into microphone] Ladies and gentlemen, there’s been an underwater nuclear explosion. A beast has been awakened. It approaches with fearsome steps. Boom! Boom! Boom! Are we paying the price for our hubris of science? Witness the primeval might that is Godzila with one “l” for trademark reasons.

Godzilla is the archetypal giant rampaging monster, created by man’s prideful folly, and the name is a romanization of the original Japanese name “Gojira” — which is a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ) ‘gorilla’ and kujira (鯨, くじら) ‘whale’. So.. GORILLA-WHALE! RAAAWR!

And this is how the stereotypical Japanese monster movie starts, with a creature created as a result of man’s over-reaching science and rising up from the sea to destroy Tokyo. In fact, in the original 1954 movie, Godzilla was created by a nuclear explosion.

Oh! No one is safe! Who all’s going to protect us? It’s Mechagodzila! Boom! Boom! Boom! Thank you for choosing Staples.

Mechagodzilla first appeared in the 1974 movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

Captain Burnett called earlier, Miss Lemon.
Finally. Not that it matters. We’re turtles.

Carol was first introduced as Liz’s boyfriend in S04E22 “I Do I Do,”, but I think this is the first time they’ve mentioned his last name. Burnett. So his full name would be… Carol Burnett. It was bad enough he had a girl’s first name, now it seems he has the exact same name as Carol Burnett, actress, comedienne, singer, dancer, writer, and star of her own 1967-1978 Carol Burnett Show. That’s just weird.

[lays down on couch] Men. Trust. I mean, I just feel like sometimes men aren’t totally honest with me.
Oh. [sits down] Go on.
Well, for starters, everyone I ever dated in high school turned out to be either gay or a girl dressed as a guy to get a journalism scholarship. My own dad tries to secretly cheat on my mom and I thought their marriage was perfect. And of course there’s Santa Claus.

Hmmm! Cross-dressing journalism major, huh? Tricky. I’m going for the 1985 movie Just One of the Guys where a girl plays a guy to win a journalism contest. Liz Lemon was born in 1970, making her around 15-17 during high school, which would be 1985-1987. Brilliant!

Her dad tried to cheat on her mom earlier this season, in S05E06: “Gentlemen’s Intermission.” Spoiler: he failed.

When I was seven I asked for a CB radio for Christmas so I could track gas prices around the state for a cool chart that I was making.
We’ll get back to that later.
When I didn’t get it my dad blamed Santa Claus. Well, Santa made an enemy that day. The next year when he returned to the Schuylkill Galleria, so did vengeance.

I was about to gloss over this one, but I realized most people under 20 would have no idea what a CB radio is. It stands for citizen’s band radio, came about in 1945, and has 40 channels in the 27-MHz band. It’s basically open to anyone who wants to use it, and before this crazy Internet thing it was pretty big. It was a wide-open public communications channel anyone could use as long as you bought a CB radio. Kinda like the Internet. Except you can use it while driving, which is why it’s still popular with semi truck drivers. And weird hobbyists.

There is no Schuylkill Galleria, but Liz’s fictional mall is probably takes it name from the Schuylkill River which runs through Philadelphia, about 2 hours from White Haven, Pennsylvania, Liz’s home town.

[flashback] Ho ho ho! What can Santa bring you this year?
Young Liz
[flashback] What does it matter? You didn’t bring me what I asked for last year you fat fraud. You’re a bigger disappointment than our current president, Jimmy Carter.
[flashback] I am a fraud, little boy! [takes off Santa hat and beard] My wife still thinks I work at the bank.

Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States, in office from 1977-1981, which would make wee Liz (again, born in 1970), between 7 and 11 years old. Although with time has been considered one of the more successful presidents, after he left office he was considered a failure.

Aunt Linda
[flashback] [to Young Liz] Your uncle never liked my cooking. But you do! Right, Elizabeth? [serves Young Liz something that looks like spaghetti with fried eggs on top] You love your aunt Linda! Here’s a fun game: put on Harry’s cologne and give me a back rub in the bath! [laughs, then cries]

Revolting. I found a recipe for it. Fill your boots. It’s supposed to be all gourmet an stuff, but I’m sure it’s still revolting.

To this day whenever I hear someone’s getting divorced I can still taste the egg. And I… Oh my God. My trust issues and my food issues are connected. Uncle Harold is the reason eggs make me gag. Kenneth, you’re the perfect therapist. I can dump all of my problems on you, walk away, and go move on with my life. It’s a win-win!

Liz hates eggs? Ah! This sounds so familiar but I can’t find any reference to her hating eggs. Especially because she eats everything.

Liz. Last night was a disaster, and not the good kind where I get to sing at a benefit.
What happened?
Paul’s idea of moving things forward is me meeting his parents. He said they live in a… soo-borb?
Suburb. Come on, Jenna, it’s not what you wanted but it’s progress.

Ironic, as Jane Krakowski was raised in Parsippany, New Jersey, which is a suburb of New York City.

And big stars often sing at benefit concerts to raise money for disaster relief.

Okay. Donald is on his way up. I know cutting him off is hard but it’s your duty as a parent-
Tracy. Do not laugh at the word “duty.” Be strong. Be rational. No emotion.

For some reason I couldn’t stop laughing at this line. It reminds me of a similar scene from the cartoon The Venture Brothers S02E06 “Victor. Echo. November.” I couldn’t find a clip anywhere on the net so I actually uploaded it to YouTube for all you netizens. You’re welcome. I expect YouTube will yank it due to copyright infringement within the day.

What? You haven’t seen The Venture Brothers?? Go! Buy! Watch!!

Fine. I’ll be okay. I got other ideas, like a micro brewery that also serves frozen yogurt. I’m gonna call it… Microsoft.

Microsoft is of course a massive software company. With lawyers. Lots of lawyers. Don’t eff with them.

I have this recurring dream… Actually is it recurring if you wake yourself up with a [snorts] and then return to it? Anyway, in the dream I’m a baby but my parents left me on the top of the car by accident…

This one reminds me of the scene in the movie Raising Arizona when Gale and Evelle Snoats forget little Nathan Jr. on the roof of the car and take off driving down the highway. I love that movie.

[enters] Lemon, what are you doing? Is KENNETH your therapist?
Well…. kind of?
He can’t handle that. Look at his head shape. He has no brainpan!

I always thought the brainpan was sort of the lower part of the skull the the brain sits on. Like.. a pan. For the brain. Turns out it just means “cranium,” i.e. basically the whole damn skull.

My aunt had a runny nose for the longest time that turned out to be a hole in the bottom of her brainpan that was leaking into her sinuses. So they had to cut in there and plug the whole. I always imagined they used chewing gum for this. True story.

It’s fine, Mr. Donaghy. I’m okay. [in squeaky voice] And so am I! I’m Cheryl.

I can’t find any link between Kenneth and anyone named Cheryl. There do seem to be a disproportionate number of passing references to non-character Cheryl’s in 30 Rock, though. They seem to use that name a lot when referring to someone in the past or someone’s girlfriend you never meet. Weird.

This is exactly why I told you to see a professional. You dump your problems on some half-baked Barney Fife and you start a chain reaction of mental anguish. [shows Kenneth’s notepad to Liz] Look what you’ve done to him.

Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts) was a high-strung, bumbling deputy sheriff in 1960-1968 TV comedy The Andy Griffith Show, which was set in small town North Carolina.

[flashback, Kenneth sitting under “Pig Eating Contest, First Prize: $300] I knew I could win that contest. I once ate an entire witch. A pig was nothing. And then.. they brought me mine. I would have recognized those eyes anywhere.
Kenneth, no.
It was Harold. And I ate all of him. Even the face in case of a tie.

Horrible. But funny.

I can’t find anything about pig eating contests or rules for the same, but I did find a recipe for Cured, Rolled Pig Face. Yes, it’s just what it sounds like. You can thank me later.

And… Kenneth once ate an entire witch?! I love that;)

Good God!
I ate him, sir! I ate my father-pig! [screams]
Okay. Or… you gave his death meaning. His sacrifice made you what you are today, which is the lowest level employee at the last-place network in America!

I love when they poke fun at their own network. Accoridng to Neilsen ratings, NBC was the 4th place network the week this episode aired.

I see. Fine. I guess we’re just done having any adventure or excitement in our lives.
Well, jeez. I’m sorry that I’m happy with the way things are. I mean, come on, why can’t we just paint each other’s toenails, watch vintage pornography, and then go to bed in our swing like a normal couple.

I imagine this is what ageing lesbians do in their golden years. Yes, that was meant to evoke images of The Golden Girls as lesbians.

Fine! Let’s do this tape. But then what? What- what will you want next?
Well there’s this sex resort in Japan where white people are treated like slaves.

I can’t find such a thing. However, if any owners of Japanese sex resorts that treat white people like slaves want me to link to their resorts, send me the info!

What are you saying?
I’m saying adopting a dog so it can watch us make love and then returning it, claiming that it bit our imaginary child is everything that I need, but if that’s really not enough for you, tell me now.

That is just freaky weird.

Tracy, listen to me. I was wrong. Don’t turn your back on Donald.
Too late! Look how we’re positioned!

Just in case anyone missed what he was talking about, Donald had walked behind him and was in the background of the frame so Tracy had — literally — turned his back on him when he turned to talk to Jack. They seem to like silly obvious physical comedy for these two.

A parent is the one person who is supposed to make their kid think they can do anything. Says they’re beautiful even when they’re ugly. Thinks they’re smart even when they go to Arizona State. Let the rest of the world tear your kid down. Your job is to support him no matter what. Tracy believes in you, Donald. Go and make him proud.

Arizona State University is in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the largest public research university in the US. It’s also ranked firmly in the middle of the pack. You can’t be too proud of your kid going to Arizona State. “Oh Marjorie, I can’t wait till little Tony grows up and goes to a painfully average school. Hopefully he’ll graduate in 4.8 years and make exactly the national average! We’d be so passionately unperturbed about the whole thing!”

[yells after Donald] I… am a protein. All living organisms need me to function. A basic building block of the human body, I’m made from amino acids found in ribosomes. Proteins give energy to everything from flower and butterflies to heroes who turn in Communists. I am a protein.
Donald and Tracy

Jack’s bang-on. That’s exactly what a protein’s all about. And I love the bit about the Communists. The Second Red Scare was 1947-1957 and Jack was born in 1959 (determined from his 50th birthday in S03E16 “Apollo, Apollo”), a little after rampant anti-Communism was over, but early enough to cling to some of those bigotries.

Daddy, can I have fifty thousand dollars to start a business where people can call in and get air quality reports from all across the United States? I’m gonna call it…
Donald, no.
…American Airlines!

I think Donald is functionally retarded. American Airlines is, of course, the world’s second-largest passenger airline. They also have lawyers.

[to unmasked Godzila] This is what happens when you work at being happy. Godzilla sits next to you while you’re eating an egg salad sandwich. What a world!
What’s the point? I moved here to make it on Broadway. Now look at me. I’m pathetic. I’ve got no real skills, a degree in theatre tech, so you move back to Pennsylvania, live with your parents. All of your old friends have kids and careers and what do you have? Maybe your name on a TV show that no one will even remember. Should have moved to Cleveland with that guy when I had the chance!
[in bad Japanese accent] Damn you, Godzilla! [pronounced god-zihr-ra]

“What a world!” really sounds like a quote from something, especially the way she said it, but I can’t find anything. Any ideas?

Theatre tech are the technicians: everything except the actors, directors, playwrights, choreographers, etc. So we’re talking about set design, costumes, lighting, stagehands, stage managers, and people of that ilk. The word “ilk” doesn’t get used enough.

“Damn you, Godzilla!” is actually a line from the Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Nice one, obscure 30 Rock writer quote finder!

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