Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish

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"Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish"
30 Rock episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 9
Directed by Ken Whittingham
Written by Kay Cannon
Production code 509
Original air date December 2, 2010
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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30 Rock (season 5)
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"Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish" is the ninth episode of the fifth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 89th overall episode of the series. It was written by co-producer Kay Cannon and directed by Ken Whittingham. The episode originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network in the United States on December 2, 2010.

In the episode, Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) tries to help Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) when his "son" returns and asks for money to fund an ill-conceived theme restaurant; Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) turns to Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) as a relationship therapist; and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) thinks her boyfriend Paul (Will Forte) may pop an important question.


When Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) asks Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) to invest in his con artist "son" Donald's (guest star Michael Benjamin Washington) ill-conceived theme restaurant, Jack becomes concerned. He believes that Tracy is letting sentiment get in the way and allowing himself to be taken for a ride, and needs to cut Donald off like any other parent, thus preventing him from scamming him out of any more of his money.

At the same time, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is having doubts about her relationship with Carol (Matt Damon) but is unable to vent her concerns to Jack since he is too busy trying to sort out Tracy's problem. Instead, Jack recommends that she sees a therapist, so she appoints Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer) as her relationship therapist, but this winds up creating another problem when a comment that Liz makes about her Uncle Harold reminds him of one of his own traumas. Jack ends up having to resolve this issue as well by appointing himself Kenneth's therapist. Kenneth explains to Jack that he had had a pig named Harold whom he loved and looked up to as a father but was eventually forced to sell. Later, when he needed a ferry ride to NBC, he was forced to eat Harold. Jack tells Kenneth that by eating Harold, he gave his death meaning, but this brings back memories of problems with his father, Jimmy Donaghy. At the end, Jack reveals to Tracy and Donald that when he received the part of protein in a school play, his father Jimmy Donaghy destroyed his confidence resulting in him forgetting his lines. He therefore tells Tracy to support Donald in his dreams since his father never did. After hearing of Jack's blunders, Donald is reluctant to accept his father's help until Jack recites his part in the school play.

Finally, Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski) is excited about her relationship with Jenna impersonator Paul (special guest star Will Forte), believing that he is going to pop the question, although the question she has in mind is that of a sex tape. As it turns out, Paul wants to solidify their relationship and take it to the next level by inviting Jenna to meet his parents. This worries Jenna, who doesn't want to commit herself to a long term relationship and instead decides to break up with Paul.


According to the Nielsen Media Research, this episode of 30 Rock was watched by 5.03 million households in its original American broadcast.[1] It earned a 2.3 rating/6 share in the 18–49 demographic.[1] This means that it was seen by 2.3 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds, and 6 percent of all 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast.

Alan Sepinwall, writing for HitFix called the episode "flawed but funny" and opined that "an episode filled with things I don't usually enjoy about 30 Rock these days - Liz freaking out about a relationship for no particular reason, Kenneth stories from home (and a lot of Kenneth, period), Tracy's ridiculous "son" Donald, etc. - and yet one where I kept laughing in spite of that."[2] Writing for The A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin scored the episode A- and called it "an all-around winner, an elegantly constructed episode that delivered a steady stream of laughs and managed to somehow make the ridiculous moment when Jack recites his spiel from an elementary school play about science both funny and strangely moving".[3]

Dan Forcella for TV Fanatic commented that the episode "was the continuation of a decent season, but it didn't pack as much of a punch as the past two episodes" and criticized Jenna's storyline particularly, writing that the character "having a boyfriend that dresses up like her and does strange sexual things with her is just weird and gross".[4]


  1. ^ a b Gorman, Bill (December 3, 2010). "Thursday Final Ratings: Private Practice, Bones, Nikita Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (December 2, 2010). "'30 Rock' - 'Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish': I am a protein". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ Rabin, Nathan (December 2, 2010). "30 Rock - "Chain Reaction Of Mental Anguish"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ Forcella, Dan (December 3, 2010). "30 Rock Review: "Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved January 30, 2012. 

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