Thursday, April 21, 2016

REVIEW: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' - Kimmy Forces Gretchen to Make Her Own Life Choices in 'Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!'

Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Episode 2.04 "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!"

Kimmy stages an intervention when ex-mole woman Gretchen joins another cult. Titus takes Mikey the construction worker on his first gay date.

Kimmy has been able to thrive with her new life in New York City because her sunny disposition wasn't broken during her time in the bunker. She has so much resilience and strength. She can handle anything as long as she puts her mind to it. She's unbreakable after all. But just because Kimmy is doesn't mean the other ladies in the bunker with the reverend are as well. They all got a rousing victory when they came together to send the reverend to prison. They believe they've found closure with what that event meant for their lives. It's something they need to believe even though it's not really true at all - as Kimmy's lie burping suggests here. Their lives are still defined by their time together and how that shaped the people they are today.

Kimmy and Cyndee remain close friends. They are both strong, independent woman who went after what they wanted after they left the bunker. They speak the same 90s lingo and get along great. And yet, it's very troublesome when Kimmy discovers that Gretchen has fallen into another cult - this time a cult of cosmetology that is preparing for their big voyage out to sea. Kimmy can't comprehend how easily Gretchen could once again fall into this trap. Over the course of this episode though, it becomes much more understandable. Kimmy sees that she can't apply her own emotional state onto the other people who were in the bunker with her. She has to let them make their own decisions. They can live their lives however they want. Yes, they survived this ordeal together. But that doesn't mean they need to be bonded together for the rest of their lives. They should have the ability to separate and find success and failure elsewhere in this world.

Again, Kimmy's strength in the bunker got her through that experience. That strength gave her the courage to form this new life in New York. But with Gretchen, she has lived a life filled with other people making decisions for her. She has never been given the opportunity to live how she has wanted. That's a lifestyle that she has come to accept about herself. She needs other people to tell her what to do. That's how she lives. So, it's easy to understand why she is enamored with the cult mentality. The reverend and the founder are preaching a message of hope and clarity. She wants to believe that. It doesn't take Kimmy much effort to get Gretchen off of this path. All she needs to do is put up a sign telling Gretchen she has her own special check-in. Kimmy wants to give Gretchen the opportunity to make her own decisions. And yet, that's not as good of a thing as Kimmy first believes.

Gretchen is horrible at deciding what to do with her life. It leads to a fantastic and hilarious sequence of events where she and Kimmy hit the streets of New York during every random and dangerous thing that pops into her head. It's completely innocent when it comes to just getting some ice cream. But it takes a turn rather quickly as soon as Gretchen suggests getting some nose candy - which Kimmy, of course, doesn't understand is drugs. It then escalates to stealing a cop's gun and getting a massive tattoo on her chest. It's a sequence that works because of how high the energy is between the two friends. It's also very illuminating to Kimmy as well. After this night out on the town, she asks Lilian if people can really change. Kimmy believes that she has because of what her life has become. But she doesn't know about Gretchen who seems destined to fall into the same mistakes over and over again. However, things work out for the best in the end as Kimmy suggests Gretchen starts her own cult. It's a fantastic final revelation that shows that Kimmy really can give others the help and advice that they truly need to hear in the world.

Meanwhile, Titus goes out on his first official date with Mikey the construction worker. It's another really fantastic storyline that allows growth for the main character throughout the episode. Titus has always been very confident in his own skin. The previous episode showed that he wasn't just going to quit because everyone else was telling him to do so. And yet, he also has a pattern when it comes to guys. He enjoys going out to the clubs and having a good time for a night. But it never leads to anything more than that. He pushes other people away in order to avoid forming any kind of real intimacy. He has a box full of random items various guys have left in his bedroom over the years. He wants to believe that someone someday will come back for this valuable stuff. But no one ever does. He pushes them away so much that they don't want to come back even for the most important items - like insulin!

Things are different with Mikey though. Titus is proud to be Mikey's first attempt at a gay relationship. He's still posing as a straight man to the rest of the world. But he's willing to form a connection with Titus. He loves how confident he is. Their date together is really cute and sweet as well. Sure, it's awkward because Titus sneezes his food all over Mikey. But it's a genuine connection that suggests there could be something real here. Titus wants to run away from that as quickly as possible. He wants to say that Mikey would require too much work and he doesn't want to put up with that. But honestly he's just afraid of getting hurt. He seeks comfort underneath a blanket because that's the only way he can avoid pain altogether. And yet, that is possible either. He put himself out there and is afraid to see what this relationship could be. It's not so easy for Mikey either. Titus is a lot of work too. He has a number of issues he needs to work on for this to be a healthy relationship. However, both seem committed to helping each other in the end. That's because Mikey is the first guy who actually returns to the apartment to pick up something he left behind. That's the sign Titus needs right now to believe that Mikey will never hurt him. He still might. But now, Titus is willing to explore what this could really be. It's different than anything he has ever done before. But he's willing to take that first step with Mikey which is very sweet note to end on.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!" was written by Allison Silverman and directed by Robert Carlock.
  • Jacqueline is completely missing from this episode. Despite how great she has been as a character this season, her absence wasn't that noticeable. Though that was because the rest of the stories were firing on all cylinders.
  • Lilian really does seem to care about Titus. It's because of her that he doesn't push Mikey away for good. Sure, she meddles and steals Mikey's tool so he has to return to Titus' apartment. But it was all worth it in the end too.
  • Does that watch that can repeat a phrase back in the voice of a celebrity only do it with male celebrities? It's fun to hear Steve Buscemi, Kelsey Grammer and Patrick Stewart repeat those phrases. But it also seems like a pattern as well that may be commenting on larger gender issues.
  • Gotta love all the meta commentary about Jon Hamm's previous work on Mad Men - from Cyndee's "We put a mad man in jail together!" to Kimmy's "The reverend was a psycho liar who claimed he came up with the "Buy the World a Coke" commercial."
  • The Bunny and Kitty song is going to be stuck in your head for a little bit. Plus, that tag scene featuring the two animals as partners from different worlds was fantastic.
  • Kimmy: "Did I just watch you do drugs with a junkyard Elmo?"
  • Titus: "You think you know everything because you got bit by that roach that crawled out of a dictionary."
  • Gretchen: "Let’s go to Red Hook with these puppets and get pregnant!"
  • Kimmy: "Now that’s what I call a MILF!" Titus: "Don’t tell us what you think it stands for. We already know it’s wrong." Kimmy: "My interesting lady friend!"