Monday, March 16, 2015

REVIEW: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' - Kimmy Tries to Avoid the Trial of the Reverend in 'Kimmy Rides a Bike!'

Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 1.11 "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"

Titus can't stop watching the trial of Kimmy's charismatic kidnapper on the Internet, while Kimmy turns to exercise to avoid testifying.

The show has kept Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne's identity a secret for a reason for the majority of this season. The focus of the narrative is on the women and how they were effected by this experience and not on the demented reasoning of the crazy man who kidnapped them in the first place. The storytelling is about Kimmy, Cyndee, Gretchen and Donna Maria being able to live their lives for the first time in a very real way. It was a traumatic experience and they are all handling it in different ways. Kimmy wants to block it completely from her memory and forge ahead. Cyndee wants to elicit the pity into getting what she wants. Donna Maria is using the name brand as a savvy business idea. And then, Gretchen still believes everything she was told and is still a loyal follower of the Reverend's. That is how they are handling being freed from the bunker. And now, the season is coming to a close and they all have to face that experience again. Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne has been revealed and his trial has begun.

It's makes so much sense that the Reverend is being played by Jon Hamm. It's easy to understand people falling under his charms. He just has a trustworthy face that makes you want to believe whatever he is saying. That makes him perfect for this role. With Hamm as the Reverend, it makes sense why Kimmy, Cyndee, Gretchen and Donna Maria stayed in the bunker with him. When he appears in the courtroom, he's still the one with all of the control. He has the confidence that he was right for keeping the woman in the bunker all these years and will walk away from this with no jail time. It's almost unbearable how incompetent the whole legal setup is throughout this episode. Is that a slanted commentary on the judicial system? Or of life in Indiana? If so, I think it doesn't work at all. Yes, it's fun as an O.J. Simpson trial parody. But there's almost no depth or purpose to that being the driving force of this whole setting. The trial is suppose to be going so horribly for the prosecution so that Kimmy needs to return to Durnsville, Indiana in the end. Things have to get so bad that that passion needs to be activated within both Kimmy and the audience. The trial scenes are funny. The Reverend giving a 20 dollar bill to a juror, pulling out a guitar, providing Spanish translations and claiming he wasn't the man who kept the woman in the bunker because he no longer has a beard are completely ridiculous concepts. If the prosecution was decent or at least competent, none of this would be happening. And yet, it's a necessity because the story has to be about Kimmy and her properly dealing with the trauma of this experience.

In New York, Kimmy just wants to procrastinate from all the responsibilities and choices up in the air in her life. Dong asked her to marry him so he can stay in the United States in the last episode and he's no where to be seen in this one. She wants to be with him romantically but she doesn't want marriage. That seems like an easy and understandable opinion to have but she has no idea how to tell Dong that. The trial in Indiana needs Kimmy to testify because she was the one who kept the mole women sane and together during their years together and will be the only one to make sure this trial reaches the outcome it needs to in locking the Reverend up for his crimes. She just wants to forget all of that though and Jacqueline provides her an outlet to do just that - through regularly attending a Spirit Cycle spin class taught by Tristafé (Nick Kroll).

It's a fascinating story about deflecting. Both Kimmy and Jacqueline are trying to hide from the pain they are feeling in their personal lives. They are masking their issues through exercising. They are simply replacing that pain with something else. But they aren't doing so through their own reasoning. They are just following someone new who is willing to tell them what to do. That's exactly what led them to this experience in the first place. They want to be independent thinkers. And yet, they keep falling under the charms of someone new. It's a part of the human connection. We need contact with other people. But it's a fine line between being yourself and just being the version the other person wants you to be. Kimmy led the group of women (and one gay guy) against Tristafé successfully. And now, she is determined to help hand out justice back in Indiana as well. It's a necessary plot beat for the show to make. She wasn't going to just be okay with traveling back to her home state for the trial. But now, she does have that passion and is willing to face what happened to her.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kimmy Rides a Bike!" was written by Sam Means & Allison Silverman and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.
  • It was inevitable that Tina Fey would pop up eventually on this show. I just wish it was in a more substantial role than as the completely incapable lawyer, Marcia, who is basically blowing the trial with her partner, Chris (Jerry Minor). Their rehearsed opening argument bit was really good though.
  • It helps immensely that Titus is the one to pull Kimmy out of her funk and get her to commit to journeying back to Indiana. He is sometimes too detached from the emotional beats of the rest of the show and this just shows how important that core friendship really is.
  • The courtroom stuff really was so hilarious that I'm almost forgiving of the fact that the story feels a little too formulaic. 
  • Titus to Kimmy: "What white nonsense is this?" Titus sure does say that a lot, doesn't he?
  • Lillian: "What can you expect from a President with no real-world postal experience?"
  • Marcia to the judge: "We would like to use one of our do-overs, please?"
  • Kimmy after Jacqueline's annoyed impression of her: "That sounded exactly like me. It was like listening to a mirror."
  • Jacqueline after Tristafé tells her to get out of his dream: "This isn't fair to people with no imagination!"
  • "No food or drink. Masturbate responsibly." Gotta love the signs at the public library.