Tuesday, April 19, 2016

REVIEW: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' - Kimmy Helps Jacqueline with Her Return to New York in 'Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!'

Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 2.02 "Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!"

Kimmy helps Jacqueline put her life back together after the divorce. Titus donates his old clothes and makes a connection with a construction worker.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt opened its second season with its characters trying to figure out who they are in a world following the trial. They were each at a crossroads with their lives. Kimmy decided how morally flexible she really is with her life in New York. Titus had to face his past and his relationship with Vonda. And Jacqueline had to deal with no longer fitting in with her Sioux heritage. In "Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!," everyone is back together in the city. And now, they have more clarity over their lives and are worried about how others perceive them. It's a very delicate balance of tone and identity throughout the episode as each character tries to forge a new path in this world.

Jacqueline returns to the city with a new identity - literally. She is no longer Mrs. Voorhees. She is now allowed to be known by her former name again - Ms. White. It's a humorous joke because of her Sioux heritage that doesn't spend too much lingering on it. But now, Jacqueline has to find a way to re-enter the high society life she enjoys even though she no longer has the support from Julian that afforded it in the first place. She hasn't really changed a whole lot when she shows up in Kimmy's life again. Kimmy has moved on and gotten a new job at a year-round Christmas story - which honestly is the perfect job for her. And yet, she cares about Jacqueline and easily gets caught up in her scheming again because of that genuine connection.

In order to make her return known, Jacqueline wants to look good in front of Deirdre Robespierre, the leader of the trophy wife clique of moms at Buckley's school. First of all, it's great that the show remembers that Jacqueline has a son. She pretty much abandoned him with her decision to return to her Sioux life. No explanation is given as to what his life has been like with both of his parents essentially absent. Kimmy certainly wasn't looking after him - even though she falls back into the nanny routine easily in this episode. Instead, the main focus of this plot is on Jacqueline doing her best to show off her wealth and stature in front of Deirdre. It's a fantastic guest spot by Anna Camp. She plays Deirdre with so much fun ambiguousness and confusion over whether she enjoys being Jacqueline's friend or wants to destroy her with her high intellect. Deirdre has a poli-sci major that she doesn't use because she married a wealthy guy. So being with Jacqueline affords her an opportunity to use her brain for more than just picking out stationary. It's fantastic.

This story is also so amusing because of just how committed Kimmy is to making all of this work out for Jacqueline. Her former boss really hasn't changed at all. She has twelve million dollars from the divorce and isn't using any of it. She believes she's poor just like Kimmy and Titus. She needs to live in the most luxurious of New York apartment complexes. She can't just pick one that has a view of New Jersey. Her standards are too high for that. Though they aren't too high to pretend to have even more money and success in front of Deirdre. Kimmy helps pull off this illusion because she needs others to see her as a good person. Kimmy believes that she is good. And yet, she was willing to be with Dong despite him being married just an episode ago. And now, Xan has returned to tell her how much her life sucks now because of Kimmy. Kimmy believed she was doing the right thing for Xan at the time. But now, she's not so sure. So, that means Kimmy works overly hard to make sure that everything likes her. And of course, she does that in her own unique way.

Kimmy is willing to return to the townhouse so many times in order to get whatever Jacqueline needs for this epic plan. Kimmy is very helpful in coming up with the strategy as well. But it's also very amusing to her to see which pop culture moments from the 90s are still popular in today's society. She would not have expected the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to still be around. And yet, they are and afford a perfect opportunity for a play date cover for Jacqueline and Deirdre to bond. Plus, it continues to show off the weird darkness bubbling just under the surface in Kimmy. She is able to lift a manhole cover without a problem - something that Jacqueline notes she really shouldn't be able to do. Additionally, no one takes issue with Kimmy taking two young boys down into the sewers of the city. It's a fun adventure and nothing more than that. But again, this plan really doesn't help Jacqueline make her big return to the city. So instead, she just outbids Deirdre at an auction to show that she should still be taken very seriously. And yet, she spends almost all of her money in doing so - which means she'll likely be spending even more time with Kimmy and Titus this season. And that's a very good prospect for the future.

Elsewhere, Titus is struggling to depart with some of his fabulous clothes. There are tons of things that he no longer needs. But he's also desperate for the world to accept these fashion statements as the way that he sees them. They are precious to him. He believes the world will be better off for wearing them the same way he would. It's foolish to believe that the world would actually do that though. The donation center just wants to give them away cheaply while a couple of millennials just want to use them for their various projects. However, this story is largely just a way for Titus to once again run into that construction worker who he helped come out last season. That scene between the two of them is very sweet. It shows Titus in a vulnerable way that he's never seemed before. A relationship could really mean a lot to him this season. So, it's a very good thing that the show seems to actively be exploring that.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!" was written by Robert Carlock and directed by Jeff Richmond.
  • Xan is skulking around the townhouse because it's the latest house she is being forced to leave due to her family situation. She wants to blame all of it on Kimmy for destroying all of the precious memories she has in this place. Meanwhile, Kimmy takes things one step further by telling Xan about all the things she too has done in this house so that Xan can return to her "happy" life in Connecticut.
  • A sign on the construction site that reads "Coming Soon: 9 Banks!" may be the realest thing the show has ever said about New York City. It's just really fantastic.
  • More signs of greatness happened at the townhouse when Kimmy drops by. She's singing the theme song to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and wonders if the person who wrote it has millions. That is accompanied by a sign saying "Chuck Lorre Wrote That Song." It's true - though it's not the reason why the famed TV producer is rich right now.
  • There was a brief moment where Jacqueline almost decided to kiss Kimmy. That would be an unexpected twist in their relationship. I wonder how much of that is a genuine feeling though?
  • Also, Jacqueline makes a plan to start her own charity which will be able to support her kind of lifestyle again. It's her setting out to do something by herself. It's going to be a lot of hard work. But I can't wait to see what kind of charity she will actually create.
  • Jacqueline driving everywhere by herself in that old police vehicle is going to be a fantastic running joke, right?
  • Kimmy: "I'm like a lollipop with a question mark on the wrapper. Anything could be happening on the inside."
  • Jacqueline to Kimmy: "You shut your wet mouth."
  • Titus to Jacqueline: "We buried a robot together!"

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.