When professional thinker Bertrand Russell wrote that fear is the parent of cruelty, he wasn't referring to 30 Rock. Nevertheless, our favorite New Yorker proved him correct. When we first met Liz Lemon last season, she defiantly purchased scores of unwanted hot dogs just to prevent a simple injustice. Last night on 30 Rock, alas, her paranoia caused her poor neighbor, Raheem, to have his nuts shocked. Not since Babu was deported to Pakistan onSeinfeld has an immigrant been so shabbily treated. (Actually, check that: This was worse.) You very bad woman, Liz Lemon. Very bad.
In her defense, the smell of fear was in the air. By that I mean the city reeked of maple syrup, and everyone was on edge. Jack thought it might be Northrax, a deadly chemical in the hands of the Saudis. Tracy couldn't concentrate at all, because the smell of waffles was making him horny. (Pete likes his naughty Pop-Tarts, Tracy lusts for waffles. Is the breakfast buffet on30 Rock's set a daily orgy?) Although she had an unblemished record of ignoring racial stereotypes — ''Remember, I asked that black guy if he'd seen Sideways?'' — Lemon suspected that her aloof Middle Eastern neighbor (SNL's Fred Armisen) might be a terrorist. All signs pointed to yes. Or was he simply practicing to be a contestant for The Amazing Race? I loved seeing Lemon drift to the dark side, threatening Pete — who dared call her ''Elizabeth Lemon'' — with a call to Homeland Security about him, too. Fey's politics are pretty much an open book on her show, and clearly, the moral of this episode was that, as a nation, we've been far too hard on Alberto Gonzalez.
In contrast to Lemon's tango with torture, Jack had a night to remember with C.C. (Edie Falco), a mysterious woman he met at a conservative black-tie dinner. First off, any episode featuring Jack in a tuxedo is scientifically proven to be 11.7 times better than a nontuxedo show. It's not just that he looks great in a tux; Alec Baldwin thrives comically in any scenario that requires him to be wearing one. Exhibits A and B: Ordering a Nancy Drew — I mean, a Hardy Boy — at the bar, and tickling the ivories with a heartfelt rendition of Burt Bacharach's ''What the World Needs Now Is Love.'' Jack was over the moon for C.C. — ''She 'does it' like her dad's a minister'' — but their love is, sadly, forbidden. To Jack, she's tainted with the political equivalent of a scarlet letter: a blue ''D.'' C.C. is actually a Democratic congresswoman from Vermont. (Did you catch the news crawl when Jack saw her on MSNBC? My faves: a shout-out to striking writers and ''Anne Heche leaves husband for pony.'' With a crack in his voice that was half Lloyd Dobler and half Ron Jeremy, Jack bade farewell the morning after: ''I gave her the ottoman and she walked out.'' C.C. clearly didn't have birdlike bones, like Jack's ex-fiancée, Phoebe.
NEXT: Going ape