tina fey 30 rock season 5 finale Ina Garten finds time for '30 Rock' finale, Kenneth the Page redeemed

The largely fantastic fifth season of “30 Rock” culminated in a bizarre and anticlimactic finale with “Respawn” — a reference to a video game occupying the “TGS” writing staff while the primary players faced varying dilemmas at the start of their summer vacation.

Dead set on relaxing, Liz (Tina Fey) plots a few months in the Hamptons (only to find Tracy (Tracy Morgan) is her neighbor), Jack (Alec Baldwin) gets used to life without Avery (who’s now lost to an indefinite detention in North Korea) and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) makes a partly serious character leap towards choosing love over fame when asked to nix her bizarre sexual proclivities by puritanical wool czar Victor Garber. Ina Garten even stopped by!

Yes, the Barefoot Contessa herself. After a sticky PR mess over possibly snubbing a Make-a-Wish child, Garten appears in a Hamptons fantasy sequence to offer Liz wine and bruschetta. She’s all alone because Jeffrey’s out of town. [Editor’s note: When, I ask, is Jeffrey ever in town?]

Liz ends up spending the summer doing community service for failing to pay a city fine and being held in contempt of court, Jack finds a way to adjust to single parenthood and Jenna and Paul happily role-play with leather and dog costumes in Central Park. It’s all very weird — even by “30 Rock” standards.

But there is a silver lining!

After struggling to find a proper outlet for him in the ever-evolving tone of the series, we finally got a really stand-out episode for Kenneth “The Page” Parcell (Jack McBrayer). His Appalachian naivete and hapless doting felt stale for much of the season, leading us to question is necessity on many occasions, but we’re ready to say that he’s been redeemed.

Kenneth spends the episode playing a fill-in to Avery, wearing her robe and catering to Jack’s bizarre needs. The bizarre requests push him to a breaking point, where he breaks out into a hypnotically good impersonation of Jack’s mom (Elaine Stritch), assorted other TGS-ers and himself.

He brings a close to Season 5, narrating his experiences helping this unfortunate bunch to an unseen individual. At first we think it’s God… but then it turns out to be a “Lost” reference. Jacob lives!

“To Be Continued.”

Posted by:Mikey O'Connell