30 Rock returns from hiatus for another season after winning a gaggle of Emmy awards in both the performance and behind-the-scenes categories.
The fresh, new season starts with a fresh, new crisis on the set of TGS. The economic crisis has hurt NBC and Jack takes Liz, Jenna, and Tracy out for dinner to try and drum up ideas for how to better "connect with middle America" and bolster ratings.
Tracy and Jenna each try to reconnect with the people in their own unique way. Jenna thinks the best way to reach the "heartland" of America is to remake herself as a cowgirl. Tracy decides to take to the streets and try to meet as many new people as he can. Country Jenna is asked to record a new southern rock flavoured theme song for NBC Sports (showcasing the only sport shown on NBC now: Off season tennis!). Tracy has no success connecting with the commoners as he first struggles mightily to even reach the outside without the help of his entourage, and then alienates everyone he meets on the street by loudly proclaiming how normal he is and desperately pleading with everyone to be his friend.
Kenneth signs a fraudulent time card at Jack's insistence since the company no longer has extra money to pay the pages for overtime. Soon after, however, an error by the downsized payroll department (one guy and an envelope stuffing machine) causes Kenneth to see Jack's enormous bonus cheque and he questions how there is no money for the pages, but apparently enough funds for lavish executive bonuses. He confronts Jack about it and asks that the OT be restored for the pages, but Jack refuses to back down -- telling Kenneth not to push him as he is going through a raging period... of economic crisis! Nevertheless, Kenneth threatens that he will organize a strike unless Jack signs a statement admitting that he is a "big ol' liar"
Jack thinks TGS needs an injection of new blood to spark interest and ratings so he sends Pete and Liz around to local comedy clubs looking for a new cast member. They attempt to keep the rest of the staff in the dark about their intentions so as not to alarm them of impending changes, but their awkward sneaking around and ridiculous excuses only raise more suspicion. They eventually have to admit that they are on a talent search so as to clear up an even MORE awkward moment when Pete's wife believes that they are fooling around and offers to accept Liz into their relationship.
Jack wants to quash the Kenneth-led page strike so he hires a mole to infiltrate their ranks (Steve Buscemi). He finds nothing that he can use as leverage against Kenneth, and the strike actually gains momentum as other unions join as an expression of solidarity, Tracy joins in when he sees the strikers as the only people he can relate to, and Jenna begins to picket against adding a new cast member to TGS. Eventually, Jack is forced to give in -- he signs a piece of paper stating that he is a liar, and Kenneth promptly calls an end to his strike. The other pages ask what they have won and Kenneth "massages the truth" (a la Jack) by telling them it was not all just about a personal issue between he and Jack, even though it clearly was and they won nothing tangible at all.