Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3 binge recap
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It’s a miracle! Kimmy, Titus, Jacqueline, Lillian, and friends are back for season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — and joined by even more new faces. The jokes are landing as quickly as ever, so now that the entire third season is on Netflix, we’ve put together a guide to all 13 episodes. Read on for all our favorite moments.
EPISODE 1: “Kimmy Gets Divorced?!”
Welcome back to the world of Kimmy Schmidt! The real world may be imploding with all the speed of an uptown express train, but at least we have a new Netflix season to binge and distract ourselves from all the schmidt of the real world. In fact, I’d argue that season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt arrives with a purpose: to imbue Kimmy’s sunshine happiness not just into the unhappy people on the show, but the unhappy ones in real life, too! So, on we go: into season 3, with a purpose!
Like a scene right out of gay Inception, the season begins with Titus in a sequined tux washed up on the beach. Last we saw him, he was on a cruise; now, he is evidently not. I have watched enough episodes of CSI (total: two) to know that something has happened. But what!? Titus maintains a heavy air of mystery and refuses to explain to a surprised Kimmy why his cruise ship tenure with Mahogany the musical was cut short early. But nevertheless, he’s woefully embarrassed: not so much by being empty-handed and unemployed, but by failing the hopes that his boyfriend Mikey had earnestly placed in him in the season 2 finale.
So, in his first ridiculous scheme of the season, Titus decides that the only way to be worthy enough to see his boyfriend again is to get a job on Sesame Street (modern dating in a nutshell, am I right?). Titus swallows his pride and asks for help from his longtime acting rival Coriolanus, who freely points Titus in the right direction of a Sesame Street producer, assuming that Titus will just give up as usual. But unlike usual, Titus is galvanized by love this time, so he follows through and sneaks himself a casting appointment with Street producer Lonny. The audition goes well — Titus explains life lessons to a series of diverse children and belts his best ‘bet (which I choose to believe was inspired by this iconic Patti LaBelle A to Z from 1998). The job is Titus’, but things get 30 Rock-level ridiculous when Lonny pulls out a puppet and attempts to force Titus into the arts-and-crafts version of a casting couch porno. Titus refuses to kiss the puppet — prude — but in not doing so, he has an epiphany that he would do anything for love, even if he doesn’t actually do it.
We leave Titus vowing to drop his hang-ups about money and failure and heading straight to Mikey’s to see his boyfriend — arriving just in time to see Mikey walk into his apartment with another man and shut the blinds. Quelle tragique!
And what of the characters who didn’t begin this episode washed up on a beach?
Kimmy, decidedly dry and indoors, has finally completed her GED! As she throws a graduation party celebrating two seasons of adult education, Lillian suggests that the next logical step is college, which Kimmy has come to believe is “just for rich kids and only the very best clowns.” But before she can even consider where to go or how to apply, she’s thrown another wrench by the bunker — divorce papers from the Reverend, who wants to get remarried but has already validated their marriage in the eyes of the state of Indiana when he claimed a tax credit on a jet ski.
Kimmy (or, as the Reverend probably calls her, Mother) is eager to sign and rid herself of Richard Wayne Gary Wayne for good, but she makes the fatal mistake of asking Jacqueline to take a look at the divorce papers (her specialty). Jacqueline’s advice, concurred with by the O.G. desperate housewife Mimi Kanasis, is that Kimmy should seize the opportunity to be the one in control. Kimmy loves the idea, and the trio spend a whole day toying around with the Reverend: tormenting him, teasing him, frustrating him, making him as woefully jealous as a toddler in time-out. And really, it goes both ways — Kimmy is also stuck in an endless cycle of playground banter, even though she holds the cards. It finally takes Fred Armisen’s Robert Durst, of all people, to sagely tell Kimmy that even turning the tables means “you’re still at the same table.”
So Kimmy signs the divorce papers, finally ready to never hear the Reverend’s voice again — until Jacqueline intervenes once more, pointing out that Kimmy can pay for college by staying married to the Reverend and using the divorce as leverage to squeeze out some tuition. First extortion, then orientation, just as our founding fathers intended.
Jacqueline and Lillian, to their credit, also enter this season with some developments in their relationships. Jacqueline is happily dating Russ (David Cross), the awful lawyer who tried to reclaim her painting last year; meanwhile, protest-happy Lillian has decided it would be in the best interest of her run for district council if she breaks up with Durst (and thank goodness for that, because Durst is the most 2016 joke since hope for social equality). In a surprising turn, Durst takes the breakup with minimal reaction, and Lillian is devastated when he scolds her for living in the past in her fight against gentrification. “I’m not stuck in the past, I just hate the present,” she says, and, presumably, she nevertheless persists with her eye on the local government prize.
Best pop culture reference: There are lots of zeitgeist zingers to love in this season premiere: Kimmy’s horrific vision of a world where her being Mrs. Wayne means Bruce Wayne never became Batman; shout-outs to Matilda, Who’s the Boss, Dance Moms, and Ghost; and the hilarious idea that Kimmy calls HBO “Home Box Office.” But what arguably takes the cultural cake is the episode’s send-up of Sesame Street — specifically, an obscure ‘70s episode that introduced children to all the fun prepositions you’d find as you traverse through a decrepit junkyard. It’s basically just like Oscar the Grouch but with more syringes.
Best cameo: Jon Hamm, I’mma let you finish, but Amy Sedaris gave her best performance as Mimi Kanasis to date — and it’s only episode 1. It seems almost impossible that the character could be any more tragic, and yet, here is Mimi, serving sushi off her desperate body and pinning her hopes on Voldemort being single and available.
Best Titus-ism: “I’m gonna get up at morning, or however you say it.”
Best non-Titus-ism: “You know Playboy doesn’t have nudity anymore? You have to draw the nipples on yourself.” – Lillian, maligning the present
“Ugh, the call dropped again. Get it together, Africa!” – Jacqueline, trying to call Russ
“So, how did he dump you? Did he write ‘IT’S OVER’ on your forehead while you were asleep but in the mirror it was backwards, so I saw, ‘REVOSTI’? I got all dressed up thinking Winston was taking me to a fancy Italian restaurant, but then he was gone! Gone forever!” – Mimi Kanasis, damn
Episode grade: B
(Click ahead for episode 2)
EPISODE 2: “Kimmy’s Roommate Lemonades!”
Think of the worst college pop-up ad you’ve ever ignored online, and assume Kimmy is taking or has taken a tour of its equivalent in New York. She’s accompanied on her tour de junior collêge by Lillian, who suggests that Kimmy take a career aptitude test to narrow down her choices and figure out what she even wants to study. The test results point her toward a lucrative career in crossing guarding — a concept that’s eye-rollingly absurd, even by Kimmy Schmidt standards — but thankfully, she meets Perry, a handsome college tour leader (played by Daveed Diggs) who expands her worldview like a busted bunker hatch.
Perry informs Kimmy that there’s no such thing as a crossing guard major, but he offers his own education as an alternative: Philosophy. He extols the virtues of the subject, bouncing around ideas of morality and free will that resonate sharply with Kimmy, whose 15-year abduction experience has certainly stunted her concept of both. Already intrigued, Kimmy is conveniently afforded a real-world opportunity to test out her philosophical mettle when she’s embroiled in a political battle between Jacqueline and Lillian.
Jacqueline, representing Russ, is advocating to help clean up a polluted seaport known as the East Dogmouth Sludgefront. Lillian, ever against changes to the neighborhood, claims that the clean-up will encourage gentrification. With Lillian’s councilwoman seat on the line, they realize that the neighborhood’s only eligible, non-felon voter is Kimmy — so Jacqueline and Lillian tug at her soul from the soapbox, hoping to win her vote with enticing stories of clean baby ducks (a good thing) or trendy brussels sprouts (a bad).
Kimmy proudly makes her decision — for Lillian, who wins her council seat (and immediately gets outvoted on the Sludgefront business anyway). Convinced of a philosophical victory, Kimmy returns to the Robert Moses College for Whites Everyone intent on applying, but finds out that Perry is transferring to Columbia, a mythical school that he speaks of with high regard. Deciding she can dream bigger as well, she throws out her application.
And then, there’s Titus.
Playing on a similar theme of self-realization and aimless intellectual musings, Titus responds to finding Mikey with another man by going full Lemonade — not just for a brief viral parody, but for literally half the episode. You’ll likely have already seen this all over the Internet by now, I’m absolutely sure of it, but nevertheless, Titus slays the Beyoncé spoof, first channeling “Hold Up” with a wooden baseball stick and grittily avant-garde slow-motion. He sings about being “heartbroke or roach-bit” and smashes Mikey’s Tilda Swinton truck, which draws Mikey outside and into regular-speed motion for their first confrontation since the cruise.
Titus fires off his charges, and Mikey has a rational explanation for each one — that the man Titus saw him with was just his friend, Jeff; that they only drew the shades to properly play Call of Duty; that Mikey only wore his date night outfit because nothing else was clean. Titus doesn’t buy the excuses and leaves in a fury to go home and record a spoof of “Sorry,” but Mikey shows up, apologizing with a Biz Markie song of his own. Titus claims a new issue: He doesn’t believe that two gay men can be friends. Mikey insists he can prove Titus wrong and convinces him to come to the batting cages with him and Jeff, but Jeff seemingly proves that he is, in fact, attracted to Mikey after all.
When Mikey realizes that Titus was right, he apologizes for all of his accidentally shady choices and claims lifelong puppydog devotion to Titus. But without saying a word, Titus escorts Mikey to the suburbs to meet his first boyfriend, Roger. He points out all the horrific totems of Roger’s domesticity — a birdbath, a husband, zucchini noodles, etc. — and makes the case to Mikey that had Titus been eternally devoted to his first love, his life would have ended up in a Norman Rockwell disaster. Not wanting the same for Mikey, Titus sets him free, encouraging him to go off and experiment with dating and, should the fates allow, return to him if they’re meant to be.
As Mikey drives away, Titus is visibly upset, and his final Beyoncé riff — a Sludgefront take on “All Night” — ends the episode with a rarity on Kimmy Schmidt: a betrayal of actual earnest emotion!?! What the what?!
Best pop culture reference: You may be convinced that Titus’ take on Lemonade is the obvious choice here, but in fact, I propose two pop culture gems you might have missed: the gasp-inducing Roy Cohn Community College (find that Wikipedia here) and the much cheerier shout-out to that beloved Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie that went viral last year. I recognize that this is the second time Titus has referenced Patti LaBelle — a happy trend!
Best cameo: Um, did you even see Hamilton?
Best Titus-ism: “I came by your house last night after I turned down a three-way with a puppet — you’re welcome — only to find you laughing with some boy like two white ladies looking at a salad!”
Best non-Titus-ism: “This is making my head all tingly, like the time I put Pop Rocks on a Q-tip.” – Kimmy, hearing philosophy for the first time
Episode grade: B-
(Click ahead for episode 3)
EPISODE 3: “Kimmy Can’t Help You!”
Now that Kimmy her college ambitions mapped out, you think she’d be all ready to sign those divorce papers, right? Yes! And then not quite, because meeting the new woman who wants to marry the Reverend makes things a bit more complicated (but also introduces the amazing Laura Dern into the series).
Titus is drowning his sorrows over letting Mikey go by watching “Sad Sack TV” — random stuff from the ‘70s and commercials for dog stairs — while drinking tomato sauce straight from a jar, but he interrupts that “spa time” briefly to give Kimmy an acting lesson so she can beef up her extracurriculars on her college application (Drama Club? Check!). There’s a knock at the door; it’s Wendy Hebert (Dern), delivering the updated divorce settlement. Kimmy can’t even imagine what sad and crazy lady would marry the Reverend on purpose, and just as she’s about to put pen to paper, Titus tells her not to worry about that “mystery bitch” — which is when Wendy reveals herself to be that exact mystery bitch. She knows people might judge their relationship, but “every age had its forbidden lovers — Romeo and Juliet, Catherine and Heathcliff, Heathcliff and Garfield!” Extremely weirded out, Kimmy eats the divorce papers and blames it on Lucifer, their imaginary dog.
Kimmy wants to help Wendy see the mistake she’s making, but Wendy is all in on getting hitched to Rev. Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. She’s convinced people are against their union because she’s engaged to an incarcerated man who’s a minority… in prison. To get new papers, Titus has their meth-head neighbor bring over his printer — which is one of those old-school ones that print at a snail’s pace. While Wendy takes the opportunity to spend more time with Kimmy, Kimmy tries to dissuade her from marrying the Reverend.
“He’s different with me,” Wendy says, explaining how they met when she taught a creative writing class at the prison in Durnsville and was bitten by another inmate. The Reverend commented that it was more of a creative biting workshop. Romantic! He also writes her poetry now, with lines like these: “The next time I see you/ Bring $100 /For a thing I’ll need/ Or I’ll be mad.” (“He’s like a young William Carlos Williams, don’t you think?”)
“Are you like that lady who married Charles Manson so she could sell his body when he dies?” Titus asks. “Because that’s a relationship we can all understand!” But no, Wendy’s just happy he chose her, especially over all the erotic pen pals he was juggling after his trial. Kimmy can’t take any more of this, and Titus pulls her into his office (a blanket over both their heads) to talk. He tells her to take her incomplete college application and go wherever white folks go to finish stuff — “like a farmer’s market, a dog park, or a live recording of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”
While Kimmy tries to add to her extracurriculars (she counts Model U.N. as literally striking model poses in front of the U.N.), Titus is left alone with Wendy, and he sees just how sad her situation really is — she wants to marry the Reverend ASAP because she’s afraid he’s still writing some of his sex pen pals, and after failed relationships with men who seemed good on paper but treated her badly, at least here she feels she knows what she’s getting. And because they only see each other an hour a week, he won’t see that she’s useless. That flips the switch, and now Titus wants to help, but Kimmy is now more resistant.
But you know what might help? Saying random words to trigger a bunker flashback! (Which also gives Titus an excuse to just hang out and eat cheese.) Kimmy remembers how back in the bunker, she agreed to marry the Reverend in Donna Maria’s place, reasoning that at least she knew how to distract him by asking him to rank Kid Rock songs. Deciding she can’t let the Reverend hurt yet another person, Kimmy tells Wendy she won’t sign the papers. Wendy says they can’t stop her and the Reverend from being together and storms out — but not before reading an “I hate Kimmy” haiku written by her beloved. The heart wants what it wants, I guess, but at least Kimmy can check off “Community Service” on her college app.
Jacqueline also has a plan that gets upended. She’s attending a party for her boyfriend Russ’ father, Orson Snyder, and they have a scheme to make him change the name of the Washington Redskins (remember this plotline from back in season 2?). Part of that includes buying him a gift: the ping-pong paddle Forrest Gump used to defeat the Chinese. (“Oh, while you were in the bunker, we found out Forrest Gump is real.”) Orson’s not a fan of Russ, so the other part of the plan includes getting into his good graces by staging a fight at the party, and it definitely does not include telling the Snyders about her Native American heritage. For that family to accept her, Jacqueline tells Kimmy, they have to think she’s white.
At the party, Orson makes a surprise announcement that he’s making his other son, Duke, the Redskins’ new chairman. That news upends their plan, and Russ proposes instead when Jacqueline tries to initiate an argument, then accuses the family of disapproving of their relationship because she’s Native American. Furious for real this time, Jacqueline storms out — and when he catches up to explain why he popped the question, a car runs over him (and parks there).
With Russ in the hospital in a full-body cast, Jacqueline wonders if she should run away, like she did at 16 (step 1 to disappearing forever? Win America’s Next Top Model), but ultimately decides to stay. When Orson and Duke stop by, they’re not mad at all that she’s Native American — in fact, they think it’d be great for optics. So they BYOP (Bring Your Own Priest) and want the couple to say “I do” right then and there. A hand wave from Russ (mimicking a spider from Native American lore, their symbol for the plan throughout the episode) tells her he’s on board, and they do the hospital wedding — news that soon gets back to Jacqueline’s parents on the front page of their paper back home.
Estimated number of pop culture references: 14. On top of Yoda and the Forrest Gump revelation, Kimmy makes Looney Tunes eye-popping noises at Jacqueline’s sultry dress, Russ calls Kimmy “exactly as attractive as Pippi Longstocking,” Titus addresses Kimmy and Wendy as “Thelma and Puh-leeze,” and two guests at the Snyder party say they delayed their honeymoon to Westworld to be there. Wendy also makes a possible Don Draper reference when she says of one of her exes, “You’re not a good guy just ’cause you came up with a hot ad campaign for walnuts.”
Best cameo: This Laura Dern character isn’t exactly enlightened.
Best Titus-ism: (About letting Mikey go): “Being kind, wise, and mature was very hard on me! Now I know why Yoda looked like a piece of dried green poop.”
Best non-Titus-isms: “I should have bought you one of those sexy clear belts they had at Christie’s. You can see EVERYTHING.” — Kimmy, to Jacqueline
Kimmy’s idea of treating Jacqueline like she’s white: “Hey Jacqueline, how’s that lobster roll?”
Episode grade: B+
(Click ahead for episode 4)
EPISODE 4: “Kimmy Goes to College!”
I’m surprised it’s taken this long for our dear Kimmy Schmidt to get into the gig economy, but here we are — she’s officially a Task Rabbit. And she wants Titus to be one too, so he can make real money instead of drawing his own green (which will work once he gets better at drawing ears!). Though Titus hates both rabbits and tasks, he agrees to do one — go to someone’s house and sing — while Kimmy sets off on a montage of hauling fridges up flights of stairs, blowing up one of those inflatable protest rats, pretending to be somebody’s girlfriend, and finally assembling something in a Columbia University residence hall…where Xanthippe just happens to live.
Turns out one of her roommates requested the Task Rabbit to assemble a new rowing machine — Xan lives with three members of the crew team, all of whom are tight with one another and just think Xan is a spoiled brat (it probably doesn’t help that her family’s name is on their building). When the roomies do come back, Xan pretends not to know Kimmy (who inexplicably chooses Tony as a cover name), and when she tells her to get to work on the rower, they see it as her talking down to someone less privileged than she is.
Lillian, meanwhile, is finding politics to be a lot harder than she expected. At a city council meeting, she comes up against a grocery store magnate named Artie Goodman (Peter Riegert) who wants to put one of his stores in East Dogmouth. Railing again against rich people who want to come in and change the neighborhood, Lillian decides she’s going to filibuster the vote.
Thankfully for Titus, the man who hired him to sing isn’t a Hannibal Lecter type. It’s Gordy (Judah Friedlander), a songwriter who needs someone to sing backup vocals on a few tracks he’s written. Simple enough! But Gordy’s songs all veer hard into wild conspiracy-theory territory. (Sample lyrics: “Milk has an expiration date/ We should do that with the elderly,” “Benghazi! / Hillary was there,” and, “The Supreme Court wears robes to hide their octopus bodies.” Gordy is so pleased with Titus’ work that he asks him to sing lead on one last song that’s particularly special to him — but where Titus had no problem singing the other lines, this one might be a step too far.
Lillian’s filibustering stretches on, but Goodman says he can put up with anything because he regularly judges student film competitions. When Task Rabbit Kimmy comes by delivering pizza Goodman ordered, Lillian asks her to come back with some tea to perk her up, and then she stops again (can you even do that during a filibuster?) when Titus calls her asking for advice on Gordy’s song. Should he sing something that’s so offensive? Lillian says so long as he sells it, no one will care what the song is about — just look at “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
But when Kimmy comes back with sleepy-time tea instead of the caffeinated kind, Lillian and her filibuster are down for the count. By the time she wakes up, the council’s already voted in favor of opening the grocery store. But Artie admits he admires her passion, and he’s decided she’ll be community liaison on the project, meaning nothing can happen without her input. She vows to fight him every step of the way, so this means they’ll be seeing a lot of each other.
With that blessing, Titus does go ahead with recording Gordy’s song — which, by the way, is a pop song about how he loves everything in California, but especially the boobs. There’s a music video to go with it, featuring Titus, Gordy, surfboards, a dog in a bandanna, and yes, cleavage. This is what Titus thought was too much — and, let’s be honest, it’s no “Peeno Noir.”
When Xan tries to impress her roommates by offering them alcohol, she finds out their idea of “going hard” that night wasn’t partying, but working out on their new rower, and they are aghast that Xan would bring in booze. When they see Kimmy is with her again, she drops the “Tony” act and defends Xan to the other girls, ends up taking her own turn on the rower. And… she’s good at it. Really good, thanks to all that crank turning in the bunker. So Kimmy officially has her way into Columbia — the crew coach (Orange Is the New Black’s Catherine Curtain) barges in on the dean and demands Kimmy get a full scholarship on the spot.
And just proving Lillian’s point, the episode ends with a scene three weeks later where Titus’ song is playing in a nightclub in Tokyo. Because even dancing robots love that kowabunga lifestyle.
Best pop culture references: Titus worries about his safety while working for Task Rabbit: “What if he’s a murderer? Put in $100 an hour. No murderer can afford that — except for Hannibal Lecter; he has a thriving psychiatry practice!” In a bunker flashback, Kimmy watches Friends on their fake TV, even though Gretchen doesn’t approve: “That show is sinful, Sister Kimmy! Monica and Ross are brother and sister, but you can tell he knows her as a husband.” And while it’s not strictly a pop culture reference (unless you count emoji as pop culture, which the movies now do), I just want to state for the record that Kimmy thought the poop emoji was chocolate ice cream.
Best cameos: 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander as Gordy; Tami Sagher as Xan’s sex-positive, Shrek 3 screening-promoting RA
Best Titus-isms: “I haven’t sung lead vocals since Luther Vandross passed out at that concert and I ran out on stage pretending to be a doctor.”
“Don’t you know taking a picture of a gay man unannounced is a hate crime?”
“Music is very powerful, like that Kars 4 Kids commercial. Before I saw that commercial I wanted to donate a car to kids, but that song changed my mind.”
Best non-Titus-ism: Lillian, skeptical of the gig economy: “If a stranger comes into my home and wants to go through my stuff, what right do I have to know who they are?”
Episode grade: B
(Click ahead for episode 5)
EPISODE 5: “Kimmy Steps on a Crack!”
Any kid knows if you step on a sidewalk crack, you break your mother’s back. As an adult, Kimmy Schmidt has learned that just because it rhymes, that doesn’t mean it’s true (after all, she’s smelt some things that Titus has definitely dealt). But just when she works up the courage to step on a crack, she breaks FBI Agent Yourmother’s back.
In “Kimmy Steps on a Crack!,” Kimmy learns sometimes when you think things aren’t true, the world may prove you wrong.
The flashback-free episode 5 finds Kimmy kidnapped by a man in a van again, except this time it’s for her help with a cult… Gretchen’s cult, which she credits Kimmy with creating. Back in season 2, Kimmy did tell Gretchen she didn’t need a man to start a cult, so Gretchen did it. She found a compound, made up some scriptures, and kidnapped a bunch of tween husbands (don’t worry — she doesn’t actually do anything with them).
But instead of living like a queen, Gretchen has turned into a den mom. She’s a woman who isn’t getting her due as a cult leader. Tired and ragged from making endless peanut butter sandwiches and cleaning up after a dorm full of teenage boys, she’s ready to get out of the cult business and is going to “finish it like a man”… by blowing up the compound. “Death is the eternal sleep Kimmy,” she says, “And mommy needs a nap.”
Kimmy thinks the problem is that she’s “a Gretchen,” not that she’s a woman. So she goes outside to tell the FBI to take down her friend before she can finish making her bomb. But when the FBI agents see Gretchen crying from the tear gas they threw in the compound, they pull back and send in the “sassy gay best friend” SWAT team member instead.
Realizing Gretchen is right about being treated differently, she goes back and tells her friend that it’s not because she’s a woman that she’s failing at her cult; it’s because of the world. She tells Gretchen to be like the female orca, the elephant matriarch, or the bonobo; she tells her to finish this like a woman — by facing the consequences. Gretchen sees the truth in this and agrees. “My next cult is going to be all women,” she says before surrendering.
And it looks like she got her wish because her next stop is a prison. AND OMG THIS IS AN ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK CROSSOVER. Gretchen is talking to Black Cindy, whom she refers to as Black Cindy. Orange Is the New Black is now officially in the 30 Rock-verse. What does this mean!? And when does this happen in the OITNB timeline? Is Gretchen in Litchfield? Could Lillian show up on Orange? That seems like a natural progression for her character, tbh.
Too many questions and we’re not even through the episode yet. In a B-plot that’s barely befitting of him, Titus has scurvy. He was waiting on medicine from Kimmy when she got abducted, so he has to rely on Lillian for help. Their library internet search helps them diagnose his condition, and their East Dogmouth search leads them out of the area (it’s a food desert) to an all-natural food store owned by Artie Goodman. Lillian flees, and Artie gives Titus some smoothies and coloring books, and this cannot be the way you cure scurvy.
Speaking of vegetables, Jacqueline is cooking. Yes, you read that right. In an effort to win over Russ’ family while keeping up their plan to change the Redskins team name, she plans to go to a family dinner to celebrate an upcoming merger. A Snyder is marrying a Mara sister — which will create a Giants/Redskins football family conglomerate. (It seemed like the Kimmy writers were trying to hit the “we’re so ridiculous it’s not offensive” note they do so well, but these Mara Mara jokes were just… offensive.)
Duke mentions to Jacqueline that Meemaw gave Russ her corn pudding recipe upon her death, and he’d love to have it for the get-together. Jacqueline doesn’t want to give up Russ’ recipe, but she wants to keep the family close. So she cooks.
And she cooks Ghost-pottery-style with Meemaw. It’s… weird. When she brings it to the event and Duke realizes she truly respects Russ, he loses it. Not only does Russ have a secret family recipe, but he also has a wife who loves him. Duke gets upset and then kisses Jacqueline. I really want to root for Russ here, but… he has a dead tooth and a tick in his beard. Shudder.
Problem Kimmy had to solve: Gretchen’s cult compound/FBI standoff.
Problem Jacqueline had to solve: Learning how to cook.
Problem Lillian had to solve: Finding Titus fruit or veggies.
Best Kimmy ’80s throwback: Explaining how the world over-sexualizes women now, Kimmy asks Gretchen, “Have you seen what they did to Strawberry Shortcake?” “More like Slutberry Slut-skank,” Gretchen responds. (Are they wrong?)
Estimated number of pop culture references: 8, including Jacqueline and Meemaw’s disturbing Ghost parody
Cameos: Matt Oberg (Veep, The Real O’Neals) as FBI Agent Yourmother; Phyllis Somerville (Outsiders, The Big C) as Meemaw; and obviously Adrienne C. Moore (Black Cindy on OITNB) AS BLACK CINDY
Best of the rest:
• Gretchen only gets “Who wore it better” fashion news coverage from the media. She might care more about this if she knew who Solange Knowles was.
• Titus definitely ate someone during his time on the cruise, right? (I do not need that flashback.)
• “First thought wordplay” is one of the symptoms of scurvy.
• “Can we stop by whatever a Century 21 is in Pennsylvania?” “That would be a Boscov’s ma’am.” [surveillance photos to prove it]
• Donna Maria is going on Shark Tank Espanol.
• The Modell’s wedding registry was reminiscent of 30 Rock’s blatant product placements.
• Titus has been taking “Vitamin Si,” which are just buttons.
• “A male Kimmy wouldn’t be treated this way.”
Episode grade: B
(Click ahead for episode 6)
EPISODE 6: “Kimmy Is a Feminist!”
Kimmy was accepted to Columbia University and is living that college lyfe. She’s not thrilled by the lack of recess in college (pretty sure she hasn’t been to a tailgate yet), but no matter — she’s racking up the cool points. She’s made it onto crew (and I don’t even think she’s the coxswain) and is tight with her teammates. They’ll all be going to a “Day After Valentine’s Day” party — Xan is coming, too. Kimmy sees a familiar face in the quad — Perry! (Told ya Kimmy was racking up the cool points.) He doesn’t entirely understand how she managed to get into Columbia on a full ride two weeks after mulling over a job as a crossing guard (and quite frankly, we don’t either).
Meanwhile, Duke shows up at Jacqueline’s door. He’s sorry about their kiss and wants to make it up to her — with champagne, of course! Jacqueline invites him in — how else will she get the name of the Redskins changed? — but calls Titus for interference. Titus, fresh from a drugstore shop for cherry-flavored edible underwear (he needs nutrients to cure his scurvy, duh), busts into Jacqueline’s apartment, wailing about a fake breakup with his underage lover to appease to her plan. She tells Duke that Titus is her gay best friend named Flouncy Magoo, and she has no choice but to console him, despite his poor choice in timing.
But Duke is onto Flouncy. After grabbing his shopping bag filled with the edible underwear and cherry-flavored lube, he thinks that Flouncy is, in fact, straight, and that he really wants to sleep with Jacqueline. Flouncy, a.k.a. Titus, tells Duke that his real name is Cork Rockingham, and he’s correct: He does want to sleep with Jacqueline. So, why would Titus pretend to be straight and act as if he wants to hook up with Jacqueline? Simple. Duke plans to prove he’s the best suitor for Jacqueline by wrestling with Titus, who is thrilled to be underneath Duke’s rock-hard body. Later, Titus and Jacqueline meet in the bathroom and confess how lonely they are, which they remedy by engaging in a full-on makeout session, with Jacqueline’s hair in her mouth, acting as some sort of shield between the two.
Kimmy is heading to her first college party, and she dresses the part — tight red dress, hoop earrings, tall boots. She feels like a hooker, but her crew-crew tells her to say “sex worker” instead. At the party, Kimmy proves to be just as bad as grinding as you’d think, and she declines signing a sexual consent form. She’s no longer feeling the party, and she runs into Perry, who agrees to drive Kimmy and her crew-crew home. They bond over their disinterest in partying or any typical freshman activities, and after Perry walks Kimmy home, they kiss. The mood is ruined, though, when Perry tells her he plans to go to divinity school and open his own church. Kimmy freaks out and literally throws a garbage can at him.
Lillian heads to Chez White to try to help Jacqueline manage the Duke-Titus-Flouncy-Cork situation. The two put their heads together, and Jacqueline decides to slip some drugs into Duke’s shot so that he passes out. He’ll wake up the next morning and think they had sex! It’s a genius plan! The only thing is, when Duke wakes up, he knows they didn’t have sex (not even Jacqueline’s sexy robe can fool him) because — a-ha! — he always calls his dad after he has sex, and he has no outgoing calls to his father. That’s when Duke spots the iPad on Jacqueline’s bureau, which she used to record the night so that Russ will know she was faithful (well, faithful-ish) if he ever leaves the hospital. The iPad has some very incriminating evidence. While blackout drunk, Duke was talking to Titus-Flouncy-Cork and admitted that he’s worried about football-related brain injuries, which is why his kids play soccer instead. And the whole conversation is recorded! If this gets out, it will destroy Duke. So, Jacqueline wins — she’ll go with Duke to the owners’ meeting and will make them change their team name. Oh, and Titus wins, too. Turns out, Steve Harvey will be at the owners meeting, and Duke is going to give him Titus’ reel. Coming up in the world!
Best pop culture references: Terrence Howard, ghosting, Beaches, Psycho, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, Elizabeth Berkley, Late Night, Law and Order, Phylicia Rashad, and Steve Harvey all get shout-outs.
Best Titus-ism: “I overstand.”
Best non-Titus-isms: “We’re tapping the keg at 9, with the keg’s consent, of course.” –Austin at a party at Columbia University
“My first college party. I’m gonna go to town on some hot D — desserts!” –Kimmy
“You guys are so smart. Oops! I just called you guys ‘guys.’ Sorry. And can I say ‘man’? Boy, this is hard! Now, I said ‘boy’! Oh brother. Help me!” –Kimmy, trying to remain gender neutral
“I know I have a certain effect on men. And gorillas. I can’t even go to the zoo anymore.” –Jacqueline
“Did you know feminism is sexy now?” –Kimmy to Jacqueline
“What are you going to do? It better not be m-e-s-s-i-n-g around. He’s your brother-in-law!” –Kimmy, warning Jacqueline of Duke’s wiles
“It’s my gay best friend, Flouncy Magoo.” –Jacqueline nicknaming Titus under pressure
“Being empowered sure is cold.” –Kimmy, dressed promiscuously for her first college party
“I owe you one, so go ahead and take a dollar out of my purse.” –Jacqueline to Titus
“Duke is my type — rich, mean, knows a lot about watches.” –Jacqueline about her brother-in-law
“You don’t actually have to sleep with him; you just have to trick him into thinking you did.” –Lillian to Jacqueline
Episode grade: B+
(Click ahead for episode 7)
EPISODE 7: “Kimmy Learns About the Weather!”
You can’t outrun your past — eventually your demons, whether they’re whale-shaped or bunker-size, will come back to haunt you.
In episode 7, Kimmy, Titus, and Lillian are having to face facts and deal with their baggage. Oh, and there’s a giant hurricane (named “Tammi-with-an-I”) headed toward NYC, so they gotta do it fast.
Prepping for the storm, Titus takes his boombox in for its 5-year complimentary maintenance. The kid at the electronics store informs him he has no idea what the device even is, but the trip is not a total wash: Titus sees a commercial for “Urethrex,” a medication for an overactive bladder and learns that Mordor Pharm is stealing his likeness. The animated bladder in the ad is a “gay black diva.”
When a drug dealer on the street tells Titus that there’s lots of money in pharmaceuticals, he decides to head to the company’s office and ask for his payout. He’s blocked from entering, but he does overhear a man using his voice. And that man is Pete Hornberger.
Kimmy is tracking down her own guest star: Drench Thunderman (played by OITNB’s Michael Torpey). Lillian told her she couldn’t believe the NBC weatherman when he said she needed to bunker down during the storm because the news is all about scare tactics. Kimmy decides he’s trying to Reverend the whole city, so she wants to take him down.
But since Kimmy doesn’t have much experience taking people down, she goes to practice with Titus’ guy. When Pete Hornberger Dale Bortz leaves the building, Titus and Kimmy jump him. Dale fesses up that he didn’t steal Titus’ identity; he’s just an impressionist who studies the videos of Titus that Mordor Pharma gave him. They’ve been having him followed for months.
Enraged, Titus meets with executives to get his money … except there is no money. He signed a waiver after he auditioned for them more than a year ago. And even though that audition was disastrous, it made the executives change directions: They wanted the overactive bladder to be the villain, like Titus.
Meanwhile, Kimmy is roughing up Drench Thunderman, whose real name is Ricky Ann Sprinkles. He swears he’s telling the truth about the storm; he’s only being dramatic because he wants people to be safe since this could be the next Hurricane Sandy. Kimmy sees that he’s telling the truth and goes home to make her own bunker.
When she gets there, Titus is combing a doll’s hair because he’s upset about learning that he’s a villain. Kimmy tries to tell him he’s not that bad, but he says on the cruise he did the worst thing he’s ever done. And he needs to talk about it. Oh, yeah, a storm’s coming.
What Lillian was up to: Trying to stop the construction of Big Natural’s Organic Store. Artie tries to explain he just wants to help East Dogmouth, but she doesn’t believe him — until she sees that the Second Avenue Subway is being extended into her neighborhood. She decides to embrace progress, and Artie.
Best Kimmy ‘90s throwback: Kimmy explains how Dale Bortz stole Titus’ voice: “He’s an Ursula the seawitch!”
Estimated number of pop culture references: 5, including a nod to the horse Bianca Jagger rode into Studio 54.
Cameos: Scott Adsit (30 Rock) as Dale Bortz and Michael Torpey (OITNB) as Drench Thunderman.
Best of the rest:
• Titus’ nightmare about the cruise incident included baby corn.
• Gus Rosendale is a real News 4 New York reporter.
• The drug dealer on the street has pens labeled “Crack.”
• “Bob Dylan is dead … to me. Can’t show up and get a Nobel Prize? Rude.”
• Mordor Pharma
• The Second Avenue Stop in Kimmy is the “T” train instead of the real-life just-opened “Q” train.
• “Mini Coopers shrink when they get wet.”
• Drench Thunderman: “Okay, maybe I go a little overboard.”
Kimmy: “A little? You make the movie Overboard look like a lighthearted comedy instead of a messed up story about a handyman enslaving a woman with a brain injury.”
Episode grade: B+
(Click ahead for episode 8)
EPISODE 8: “Kimmy Does a Puzzle!”
“I am Dionne Heffalumpin’ Warwick! You will not eat me!”
And so we finally learn the truth about Titus’ cruise — and exactly how he ended up on a beach at the beginning of this season. He’s been cagey about the exact who/what/why/when/how of his time performing Mahogany aboard Carnivore Cruiselines’ Ocean Skank, and now, as Hurricane Tammi-With-An-I rages on around them, he tells Kimmy, Lillian, and Artie the truth. (Well, sort of.)
After landing a role as a swing in the cruise ship production of Mahogany — “It was my responsibility to move the scenery in the dark, which I did not do” — he befriended Dionne Warwick herself, played by the inimitable Maya Rudolph. (Rudolph’s Warwick impression sounds a little like her Oprah impression, but they’re both equally delightful.) As Titus tells it, he and Dionne got along swimmingly, and she shared with him the secrets of her success. Chief among them: eating lots of wet baby corn before performances. Which is a totally normal thing to do.
When tragedy strikes and Dionne gets violently ill after going down the cruise ship water slide — c’mon, Dionne! — she asks her beloved Titus to step up in her place. And it goes really well! And he’s a breakout star! “I was the talk of the midnight buffet,” he says, “but this time, for good reasons!”
And then, he says, the ship caught on fire and sank and he ended up lost in a lifeboat with Dionne herself. And HE ATE HER. “I can still taste the bronze of her earrings,” he says sadly.
Except not really, because that’s when they all see Dionne Warwick on TV hosting a hurricane telethon. She’s alive! And Titus isn’t a cannibal! Dionne and “Lea Michele” then proceed to sing a song with lyrics like, “New Jersey’s gonna be okay, even though Chris Christie floated away…” God bless Maya Rudolph.
Kimmy starts wondering whether there’s more to Titus’ story, but she doesn’t have time to worry about it. With the hurricane swirling outside, she’s decided to make her and Titus’ apartment into her own bunker. A fun bunker. A funker! She’s determined to keep things fun and light — and to prevent Artie and Lillian from being too gross and PDA-y. She decides to break out the board games, but to her frustration, all of the games are missing pieces, except for one shrink-wrapped macaroni and cheese puzzle.
It isn’t until they see live footage of The Ocean Skank on television that Kimmy confronts Titus for lying. He admits the boat didn’t sink — something much worse happened. When Dionne got better and was ready to return to her starring role, he doused her baby corn in cruise ship hot tub water — which is probably eligible as a war crime. To make things even worse, he inadvertently sprayed the entire ship, leaving all 220 crew members and passengers violently ill. (223 if you count the sound guys. “Which I do not,” Titus adds.)
It’s just another example of Titus being selfish to advance his own goals, and Kimmy reluctantly forgives him — until she realizes he’s the one who’s been taking her board game pieces. Even worse, he stole a macaroni and cheese puzzle piece for his Barbie outfits, and she goes ballistic.
“You are the most selfish person I have ever met, and I was imprisoned for 15 years by a lunatic,” she spits. It’s a shocking moment of anger for Kimmy, and it’s even more surprising to see her direct it at Titus. We’ve seen Kimmy chew out the Reverend before, but this is something different. She even declares that she’s moving out.
“Have a nice life!” she says.
“You know I don’t!” Titus replies.
At first, he’s thrilled to see her go. After all, he gets his spare bedroom back. But after a little cajoling from Lillian, he realizes he really does need a crazy optimistic cult survivor in his life, so he chases after Kimmy, delivering an emotional speech: “I need you because you’re my conscience. You make me a better person.”
It’s a nice moment that recognizes how Kimmy and Titus have changed each other’s lives for the better: He’s exposed her to new things and taught her how to be brave, and she’s taught him how to be a decent human being. And, to Kimmy’s utter delight, they seal their friendship with a high-five. A feel-good moment all around.
Unless you’re Dionne Warwick, who’s still poisoned by cruise ship hot tub water.
Estimated number of pop culture references: 11. In addition to Dionne Warwick and “Lea Michele,” “Bruce Springsteen” makes an appearance during the telethon, Titus tells “Kim-DMC” to “stay in your Nathan Lane,” Dionne Warwick references Patti Labelle and Barry White, Kimmy references Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, and Titus references Madonna’s “iconic Philip Treacy headdress.”
Also, Lillian drops a bombshell when Artie asks her the last time she played Seven Minutes in Heaven: “1989, but Bill Cosby didn’t know I switched the soups.”
Best cameos: Um, Maya Rudolph as Dionne Warwick, obviously. Also, John Lutz, a.k.a. Lutz from 30 Rock, shows up as a cruise ship employee who warns everyone to stay away from the hot tub water. Also also, fake Lea Michele.
Best Titus-ism: “I ran like an animal, or some other kind of thing that runs. A faucet, perhaps.”
Dionne Warwick gets stuck in her own dress during the telethon: “Wriggling up in here, I’m having a sense memory of my own birth — and how eager I was to leave the vaginal canal!”
Dionne Warwick: “You know, some people say global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. But I say, show me the receipts! Because why would Xi Jinping want to flood my basement and rust my Bowflex?”
Episode grade: B+
(Click ahead for episode 9)
EPISODE 9: “Kimmy Goes to Church!”
Kimmy is still feeling guilty about throwing a trash can at Perry, so she decides she wants to learn a little bit more about organized religion. After all, her only real experience with the stuff is the Reverend’s bonkers teachings about Jeepers and Gosh. Reluctantly, Titus agrees to take her on Good Friday, and Kimmy is immediately smitten. They get to sing! And wear cool bedazzled hats! And the reverend is a woman!
“Women really can be anything, except president or late-night host,” Kimmy muses.
Titus even auditions to join the church choir, even though they’re so off key, it physically pains him. Especially terrible is the choir’s director, Ruben. Unfortunately, the church’s resident nosy elderly woman, Miss Clara, overhears him badmouthing the church and gives him the third degree. Titus is convinced she’s out to get him, even though Kimmy swears he’s just being paranoid. But when she volunteers to work the church clothing drive with Miss Clara, she’s shocked to hear Clara pick and choose bible verses for her own selfish gain — and she watches Clara steal a coat from the clothing drive. So, they decide to bring her down as only Titus and Kimmy can.
As for Lillian, she’s nervous about Seder with Artie and his children, so she recruits Jacqueline for a little hair and wardrobe help, beginning a makeover montage worthy of a ‘90s rom-com. While they’re shopping they run into Jacqueline’s passive-aggressive nemesis Deidre (Pitch Perfect’s Anna Camp), still just as blonde and insufferable as ever. It’s all too much for Lillian, and she decides to go back to her old life of combat boots and spaghetti hair, but Jacqueline begs her to reconsider, sharing her own stories of being embarrassed and underdressed for New York high society. “After that night, I never saw 15-year-old Eric Trump again,” she says, sadly.
Lillian offers to wear something of Jacqueline’s if Jacqueline will put on something of hers, and Jacqueline reluctantly puts on Lillian’s Doc Martens Doc Goodens. Suddenly, she’s transformed: She puts her hair up in a messy ponytail, she wears cardigans and loose-fitting dresses. She’s in heaven — until she realizes she has to pick up her son Buckley at his school’s Easter egg hunt. Jacqueline’s mortified, until she decides she really doesn’t give a damn about Deidre’s opinion.
Meanwhile, Titus and Kimmy start to go forward with their plan to expose Miss Clara as a thief and a hypocrite, but Titus quickly realizes Miss Clara wasn’t going to rat him out: She just wanted to set him up with her nephew, Ruben. Also, she didn’t steal a coat from the clothing drive; Kimmy just accidentally put it in the wrong box. But before he can warn Kimmy, she confronts the entire congregation as hypocrites.
“You’re all full of something… it,” Kimmy hisses. “Liars and deceivers and jerkatrons have made a nest here! Like a family of ducks! No, not cute ducks. WOLVESSSSSS. This is a wolves’ nest.”
To her surprise, however, her angry tirade strikes a chord with the congregation, and it turns into a teaching moment about mistakes and trying to do the right thing. “I guess real religion is about knowing we’re not perfect, but trying to be better… together,” Kimmy concludes. Preach! And then the episode ends as all good episodes should: with a gospel rendition of the theme song, titled “Jesus Is Strong As Hell.” It’s a miracle!
Estimated number of pop culture references: 10. References include Seinfeld, “the saddest gospel choir outside Madonna’s tour bus,” Space Jam, Mr. Rogers, Face/Off, Grey Gardens, and Kate Hudson/Blake Lively. Also, Titus refers to Kimmy as “K-Stew,” and Kimmy has a misprogrammed Teddy Ruxpin that randomly screams, “WHITE LADY.”
Best cameos: In addition to the return of Anna Camp as Deidre, Ruben is played by Michael Benjamin Washington, who also played Tracy Jordan’s illegitimate son Donald on 30 Rock.
Best Titus-ism: “You’re asking the wrong Cumberbitch.”
Also, there’s the return of Titus’s most evergreen catchphrase: “What white nonsense is this?”
Jacqueline, after putting on comfortable clothes: “I finally get the title of the movie Face/Off! It works on two levels!”
Deidre’s son pooped his pants at the Met Ball because “Kate Hudson and Blake Lively were wearing very similar dresses and it freaked him out.”
Deidre on Jacqueline: “It seems the poor thing is Grey Gardens-ing.”
Episode grade: B
(Click ahead for episode 10)
EPISODE 10: “Kimmy Pulls Off a Heist!”
It’s the big day: The NFL owners are meeting, and Jacqueline will finally get the chance to accomplish the mission to rename the Washington team that she and Russ embarked on all those episodes ago!
Alas, this is Kimmy Schmidt, and things have to break before they mend. Jacqueline finds out quickly enough that Orson has no intention of caving to her blackmail scheme, and instead throws Duke under the bus by having him accused of — yikes — colluding with terrorists. Sorry, Jackie Lynn… A Trojan horse simply doesn’t work if your enemies know your plan.
But it’s here on Jacqueline’s most desperate hour that she grows up the most — and potentially more than any of the other leads this season. She’s surrounded by some of the goofiest characters ever, yet holds her own even after she absorbs all their ridiculousness, from playing music videos fronted by members’ mistresses to having to put up with the interjections of Junior (look, Chris Parnell!). In fact, she comes up with a plan that uses reverse psychology to great effect: When she spots her parents and the protestors outside burning super-expensive jerseys they bought only to destroy, she pitches the owners a business model that induces outrage, because pure anger and fear will drive people to buy merchandise again and again and again. It’s clever because it’s true. (Just look at the sales for copies of 1984 these days.)
To make the pitch, though, Jacqueline has to make her way back inside the meeting after being humiliated earlier. And to distract the members for a few minutes before they leave the boardroom, she has Titus deliver the performance of his dreams — riffing on the “Star-Spangled Banner” that includes the line “gallantly live-streaming” — which in turn forces all the members to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag while waiting for the song to finish. She makes it inside just in time, riles up the room, and convinces them to rebrand every NFL team into something absurd that makes people hate them. (“The Dallas Piano Lessons,” offers Junior.) She shoots, she scores, and she wins. Take that, Washington Gun-Takers!
But while Jacqueline manages (sort of) to do right by her people, Kimmy and Titus do a whole lotta wrong. After a date with Reuben, Titus heads to his favorite gas station to use the bathroom, only to be stopped by the new owner, a man I wrote down in my notes as “that guy from those gangster movies now on that J. Lo cop show.” I know, I know, it’s shameful. Mob films aren’t my forte! I’m sorry! Anyway, look, it’s Ray Liotta, everybody!
And Ray Liotta, whose character’s named Paulie (possibly after Goodfellas?), is not happy. Paulie wants to succeed in business so he can one day see — not own — a boat, and he’s not into the idea of randos using his bathroom without buying something first. Naturally, Titus considers this an affront to the World of Titus, so he enlists Kimmy’s help. Kimmy isn’t very into doing bad, but also can’t renege on a promise (she owes Titus one for “saving” her when she choked), so she tags along.
The heist itself is rather simple. Kimmy heads to the counter, distracts Paulie with some totally normal dialogue, buys a totally subtle box of Pixy Stix (Child Beauty Pageant strength), and requests the bathroom key. She then tosses the key out the window to Titus, who runs like a very slow wind to make a copy. Once she hears his buh-bird call signal, she heads back to the counter, receives the key from Titus’ inanimate associate, and boom! No more paying to use the restroom!
Well, almost. Kimmy’s wracked with guilt after learning that Paulie takes pictures of the people banned from his store, and Titus realizes he needs Kimmy to accompany him on every trip to the gas station toilet because Paulie faces the bathroom. And so Kimmy repeatedly tags along, distracting Paulie and munching on her Pixy Stix like mad, while Titus handles several number twos.
After several trips, Paulie begins to notice a pattern of destruction in Sharon — yes, he named his bathroom — and suspects something is up. After reviewing the security camera footage, he pinpoints Kimmy as a suspicious weak link, always coming into his store to chat nonsensically and never bothering to purchase a thing. And so he visits Kimmy in her apartment, interrogating her as only Ray Liotta can, and just as she’s about to break, Titus puts an end to the whole shebang.
But Kimmy’s tell-tale heart keeps beating, and she’s had enough. She tries to toss out the key when Titus is distracted with the national anthem but gets caught by Titus (who must have run like a really fast wind this time). Titus isn’t even concerned that Kimmy was about to betray him; in fact, he tells her he has plenty of other copies just hanging on trees. “That’s Ludacris!” Kimmy responds (no, really, turn your subtitles on). Then, when Titus realizes he left his tell-tale scarf in the bathroom this time, the pair decide to pull off “one last score” before Paulie — or Zippy — cleans Sharon at 4.
Not so fast, kids: Mikey’s at the store, too, and he catches Titus outside the bathroom. As he listens to Mikey talk of how happy he is now that he’s ensconced in the gay community, Titus clearly grows jealous and tries to one-up his former flame by saying he’s living his best life. Right at that moment, though, Paulie busts in to ban him and Kimmy from his store — and worse, rattles off their list of misdeeds in front of Mikey. Humiliated, Titus says nothing as Kimmy tries to prove he’s doing just great. Mikey doesn’t buy it fully, but he sympathizes and wishes Titus a goodbye. In the end, Titus realizes that perhaps he should give Sandwich — oops, Reuben — a chance and try to move on.
It’s a bittersweet ending of a relatively self-contained episode of Kimmy Schmidt. (Lillian was nowhere to be found.) Everyone understands that they’re a few steps behind on becoming grown-ups and accepting themselves and take the appropriate steps to reach the decision to do better. It’s a revelation sweet enough to warrant a freeze-frame ending — even if that freeze-frame includes garish merch celebrating those Washington Gun-Takers. The half-hour did lean heavily into Jacqueline’s shaky identity politics, but the gags were fun if nonsensical, and a Kimmy-Titus team-up is never not enjoyable. Plus, Ray Liotta backing into a corner is just a great sight gag — along with those unfortunate Eli Manning clones.
Best Titus-ism: “Gum is a lie you tell your stomach.” So true, T.A. So true.
Estimated number of pop culture references: 16, including my favorites:
- The theater marquee where Titus went on a date with Reuben is full of great spins on classics — My Dinner Without Andre, A Fistful of Dollhairs, Jiro Dreams of Tushi — as well as Daddy’s Boy: Remastered, proving that the cult of Daddy’s Boy will never die.
- “You took Manhattan like you were a bunch of muppets!”
- “Why not offend a much bigger group? Immigration, public breastfeeding, shooting gorillas!” Yup, Jacqueline has heard of Harambe.
- “You and Duke are two of the worst people I’ve ever met, and I once rode a ski lift with the Property Brothers.”
- The wall of banned customers includes Meth-Head Charlie and Pizza Rat.
Cameos: Chris Parnell as Junior, Paula Pell as Bev
- “This is what I get for having children with a woman. I mean, he’s half girl!
- “It’s like if I made money off of brunettes!”
- “Hello, it is today.”
- “You can really taste the [stray dogs in Bengali].” Kimmy can read Bengali?
- “I guess they killed another Eli Manning.” “Boyoga!”
(Click ahead for episode 11)
EPISODE 11: “Kimmy Googles the Internet!”
Of course Kimmy’s relentless optimism would clash with the dark abyss of the information superhighway — or rather, of course the internet wouldn’t let her forget the fact that she was a Mole Woman and everyone knows it.
Everyone, including Perry, Xan, and Professor Leonora Van Arsdale-Yates (hi, Rachel Dratch!), who invites Kimmy to her and her partner Dianne Delamonte-Shapiro’s (hi again, Rachel Dratch!) pompous salon. Kimmy thinks she’s on the list because she skips around campus, but when she arrives, she’s not sure she fits in. Thankfully for her, Perry’s there, and he’s eager to reconcile with Kimmy. She’s thrilled, and the two agree to help each other fit in at the soiree.
Titus, too, is trying his best to feel comfortable with a thoroughly uncomfortable situation: Reuben has been taking him to un-Titus-type dates (the gym?!) and reveals that he has a 1-year-old daughter named Linda. You can practically hear the record-scratch in Titus’s head as this sinks in. The guy he’s seeing has a daughter, and she’s named… Linda?
Naturally, Titus freaks out and asks Kimmy for help. Before she heads to her professor’s dinner party, the pair talk about how it’s important for them to accept things as they are, because that’s what it means to be a grown-up. So if Kimberly Cougar Schmidt can handle rubbing elbows with the intellectual elite, surely Titus can handle a harmless toddler with a mature moniker.
Titus agrees at first, but when he heads to Reuben’s place, he observes as Linda says “Mondays” and sought out SlimFast for herself from her purse. Reuben loves it, but Titus can’t take it, so he bolts from the date and — surprise, surprise — calls Kimmy. This time, Kimmy loses her patience, telling Titus that he’s being too dramatic (Kimmy, this is Titus!) and only looking for a dumb excuse to bail on dating a guy like Reuben. And yet, Titus still can’t let it go, so he arranges a chat with multiple Lindas at a time about whether he should feel weird about a baby named Linda.
They confirm the fact that Linda is indeed a weird name for a baby. In fact, all of these five Lindas gathered from a random company’s HR department weren’t born Lindas. They either had nicknames as children or chose to be called Linda later in life or had their name pronounced differently back when they were babies. True Lindas must ripen, they all conclude, and at that, Titus eventually returns to Reuben and the two air out their extensive list of problems about each other to each other. They realize they can’t be together — but Titus, unfortunately, doesn’t realize that he’s regressing by being unable to accept a partner’s differences. “Titus is growing,” he boasts. “You are devastated.”
Meanwhile at the dinner, Kimmy impresses with a very Kimmy fact (”Cats don’t meow around other cats”), but her enthusiasm quells when she learns that her professor invited her so she would talk about her life as a Mole Woman. Kimmy grows angry and leaves, as Perry follows. “They googled me like I’m some unlikely animal friendship,” she laments while the Dratches dip in and out of the scene. Perry admits that he was kind to her earlier that night because he googled her past as well, but also says that he likes Kimmy. But Kimmy’s too infuriated at the fact that her history is all that matters, and storms off anyway.
She’s still fuming when Jacqueline calls. See, Jacqueline’s spent the day attempting to get used to the idea that Russ’ bandages will be removed the next day and become her responsibility. After flipping through the pamphlet Nurse Stacey (Becky Ann Baker!) handed her on taking care of smooshing victims, Jacqueline’s terrified and needs Kimmy to help her understand what it means to be a caretaker.
But Kimmy, reeling from the dinner party, is not having any of it, and Jacqueline’s left to call on her “acquiantenemy” Mimi, who was also at the hospital getting treated for her behind’s botched plastic surgery. She brings Mimi home, and after hours of tending to Mimi’s every need, she’s left hiding behind her counter while Mimi cries her name over and over. Discouraged after a day with Mimi, Jacqueline returns to the hospital to tell Stacey that she can’t take Russ back. After all, Mimi nearly died after Jacqueline took care of her, but Stacey just laughs. Mimi’s a nightmare, she tells Jacqueline, so the fact that Jacqueline didn’t kill Mimi after a day is a miracle, and she’ll be absolutely fine with Russ.
At that, Jacqueline finally enters the ward with Stacey to take a look at how Russ, well, looks. And he looks… oh wow. He looks — no disrespect to David Cross! — extremely handsome, now that he’s got the face of Billy Magnussen, a.k.a. Kato Kaelin in American Crime Story and Rapunzel’s prince in Into the Woods. Jacqueline loves it, forces the other nurses out of the ward, and dives straight into her husband’s arms.
Kimmy takes a little longer to get her happy ending in this episode. She visits Xan, who tries to comfort her by showing her that everyone has embarrassing stuff they can’t erase on the internet. For Xan, it’s “girl poops pants at spelling bee,” and it’s not just kids with humiliating world wide web search results: Adults, including Kimmy’s former therapist Andrea (hi, Tina Fey!), have videos like “Drunk Lady at White Castle” online. In other words: Everyone’s mortified about something. Get over it, Kimmy!
Of course, getting over being kidnapped and trapped inside a bunker for 15 years isn’t something Kimmy can do easily. Kimmy dwells on the fact that everyone knows and decides to find Andrea and figure out how she can go on even with her deepest darkest moments available for everyone to know.
Andrea even admits she’s not exactly the right candidate to help Kimmy out. She’s not doing great at the mall: She’s gulping down sodas constantly, she’s failing to get along with her fellow vendors, and she’s got a loaded gun stashed in her jeans because, um, reasons? Oh, and she’s also got her boyfriend’s wife, Elsa, to deal with. And so she tells Kimmy to stop wasting her time dwelling on the internet because she can still save her own life. Instead of continuing to worry about the past, why not do something about the present?
Kimmy realizes Andrea has a point and heads back across the river (phew) to see Perry do his rap routine to her class, something he’s been psyched about — but turns out to be incredibly embarrassing for him. (Teens aren’t all that into rap versions of lessons about philosophy, it turns out. Maybe if Perry were into American history…) As the students begin recording his awkward performance, Kimmy jumps in to save him from internet ruin. She’s not afraid to be awkward with him, and the two of them continue to “freestyle” until most of the class leaves. Later, Kimmy plays her philosophy “rap” for Xan and delights in the fact that something she’s proud of, even if it’s mortifying (did you see that eel roll?), has become the first result on her Google search. Now, all she needs is to do more things she can happily look back on and eventually push her Mole Woman past to the second page — and maybe, when she’s president of America, that history will be on page three. Kimmy, running for POTUS? I’m with her.
Though I loved the running jokes, guest stars, and the fact that we ended with a happy Kimmy, this episode did place an oddly neat bow on Kimmy’s discomfort with her past, something it’s been able to mine more deeply in the past. And for all the gags around Titus, Lindas 1-5, and Baby Linda, it’s a step back for a character that seemed to be growing throughout the early part of this season. (Didn’t he just accept that he had to move on from Mikey and really try to make a new relationship work?) Lillian sat this one out again — a good call considering how much was going on with Titus, Kimmy, and Jacqueline — but even with more screen time available, all three plots featured could have used more emotional heft to drive the message home. Most importantly, while Kimmy’s battle against the internet may be over, it’s time we returned to her battle against Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Come back, Laura Dern!
Best Titus-ism: “When Tilda Swinton does it, it’s art.” Titus is jealous of the fact that he can’t get bored and lie down at the Frick. What the frick is up with that, am I right?
Estimated number of pop culture references: 17, including my favorites:
- “Jean-Claude Van Damme,” Kimmy responds when Professor Van Arsdale-Yates inexplicably speaks to her in French.
- “I feel like Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, and you’re the white guy, Kyle Coptner.” When will we see scenes of The Bodyguard 2: Guard Her Harder?
- “Dr. Moreau” is the one removing Russ’ bandages. No wonder Jacqueline’s worried. (Jorcqueline’s probably okay with it.)
- Mimi says she needs to do the ice bucket challenge. Of course Mimi is 5,000 years behind everyone else on trends.
- Elsa once told Andrea to let it go because Andrea wouldn’t let go of her hair. There’s an idea for Frozen 2.
Cameos: Girls’ Becky Ann Baker as Nurse Stacey, Rachel Dratch as the “yin to her yin” (playing multiple characters possibly as a meta nod to her multiple cameos on 30 Rock?), Tina Fey as Andrea, Billy Magnussen as Newer and Hotter Russ, and also the robot as one of Russ’ nurses
- “If only those rats who stole my best wigs can see us now.” I laughed because I imagined a trio of rats wearing Titus’ wigs. I mean, why not?
- “Mes putains, dinner is ready.” The subtitles don’t translate this, but you should go ahead and look up what Dianne considers a good way to call her guests.
- “Refrigerateur, how lovely to peep you!”
- “This is fun! I feel like I’m wearing glasses.” Same, Kimmy, glasses always make me feel smarter.
- “Call Make-a-Wish. I want to meet Shaq!” If only Mimi knew why Shaq never comes to the hospital anymore…
(Click ahead for episode 12)
EPISODE 12: “Kimmy and the Trolly Problem!”
When Ellie Kemper spoke to EW ahead of this season, she said that this one would focus on these characters learning how to weave all of the unpleasant things that have happened in their pasts into the fabric of their lives going forward. And that’s something that plays out beautifully and humorously in this episode — especially for Kimmy, Lillian, and New-Russ.
For Kimmy, this episode sees her trying to figure out how to best help her fellow Columbia students in a way that won’t hurt her. Xan asks Kimmy to be the first guest on her new Columbia TV talk show Profiles (she’s very committed to that name, much to everyone’s dismay), a program where Xan will interview women on campus. Xan wants Kimmy to share her bunker story with the student body because she believes students would find it inspiring or something. Kimmy spent most of the previous episode raging against the Google machine because she hated the fact that it was so easy for people to look her up and find out what she’s been through, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the last thing she wants to do.
However, it just so happens that the subject of Kimmy’s most recent philosophy class was utilitarianism, a philosophical doctrine that basically believes the moral action is the one that maximizes the good or happiness for the greatest number of people. Her professor illustrated this theory using the Trolley problem. Because this is Kimmy, she goes from 0 to 100 with this new lesson and believes she must go on Xan’s show because inspiring her classmates with her story is more important than protecting just herself from pain. Yet again, Kimmy’s altruism is causing a conflict.
She turns to Titus for advice, but he’s no help because he’s more focused on the fact that she’ll be on TV before him. So, Kimmy turns to her former bunker-mate Cyndee for advice since Cyndee has no problem talking about her time in the bunker and seems to have found a way to incorporate her past trauma into her life. In fact, Kimmy finds her at 2017 Eschacon — the Doomsday Preparation Convention — where Cyndee is working as a spokesperson for Bunco Bunkers (“So you’ve got her in your van, now what? BunCo!”). Sadly, Cyndee doesn’t have much advice for her either, except that she wouldn’t be surprised when she learns Alex Trebek has legs. While Cyndee and Titus aren’t able to help Kimmy, they do form a new friendship over their shared love of dessert spaghetti — clearly Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s response to You’re the Worst‘s breakfast lasagna.
Kimmy then turns to her professor for advice, and he explains that utilitarianism is only one way of thinking. He reminds her that John Stuart Mill says “taking sufficient enjoyment in life is actually necessary to act morally.” And that’s exactly what Kimmy needs to hear. So instead of sharing her story with Xan, she invites Titus on the show in her place, because he needs this more than her.
Jacqueline found herself in a similar situation with Russ, who is all “Hey y’all, I’m sexy now” like he’s Vanessa Bayer’s impression of Miley Cyrus. Jacqueline wants to get back to helping people and animals, and her latest cause is the Haitian toilet rat. However, Russ is far more interested in enjoying life to his fullest now that he’s hot. Guest star Andy Cohen finally responds to Jacqueline’s Real Housewives audition tape because of her husband’s transformation, but Jacqueline wants to turn it down because she’s changed. Russ suggests she take the meeting because she can use that as a platform to spread the word about her causes… except it turns out Russ is more interested in getting on Real Housewives than actually saving the Haitian toilet rat.
Going on Real Housewives for Russ means Jacqueline would have to embrace her old self — so the question now becomes: Should Jacqueline give up what makes her happy to support Russ’ dream? She decides to fight back and tries to remind Russ of what it means to be an underdog by inviting his father and brothers over. The family reunion doesn’t go as planned though because Russ’ father is more than happy to see his now-attractive son and gives him all of the love he didn’t when he was younger. (Did the word “lappy” make anyone else cringe?) This is all Russ ever wanted, and he’s ready to become a Snyder again. Realizing they want two different things, Jacqueline ends things.
Over in the episode’s C-plot, Artie invites Lillian to travel Europe with him, but she’s hesitant for several reasons. First, her family fled Europe ages ago. Second, she’s worried Artie will propose and doesn’t want to risk trampling on the memory of her dead husband Roland (Kenan Thompson). However, a quick trip down memory lane helps Lillian realize that she can be happy with Artie and not forget her husband. Sadly, Artie has some bad news to share with them all: He has one or two years to live because he’s on a LVAD wire. The episode ends with Lillian, Artie, Kimmy, and Titus hugging.
Estimated number of pop culture references: 7. My favorite one was definitely the fact that Lillian’s bass-playing husband Roland played the bass at “Seb’s Pure Jazz,” which is clearly a nod to La La Land.
The runner-up came later in the episode when Kimmy tells Artie to say something only a person who isn’t a zombie would say (Lillian thought he died in his sleep). His response: “You know you’re in the golden age of television when you take a show like The Americans for granted.”
Best cameo: Kenan Thompson as Roland Peacock, because Andy Cohen didn’t do much for me.
Best Titus-ism: “Imagine you’re biting into a stick of butter and then it’s just cheese. Why?!” Titus, explaining how to cry on cue.
Episode Grade: B+
— Chancellor Agard
(Click ahead for the season 3 finale)
EPISODE 13: “Kimmy Bites an Onion!”
Most of this season has been about Kimmy figuring out how to move forward and find her place in this crazy, onion-like world. (That’ll make sense in a few paragraphs). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she encounters some adversity in the season 3 finale on her way to figuring how to best use her emotional intelligence to help people.
Unfortunately, Kimmy finds out at the beginning of the episode that Columbia might not be the vehicle to help her accomplish her goal, as she’s failing school and is on academic probation. The dean informs her that if she doesn’t get a 100 percent on her chemistry final, she’ll be kicked out of school. Kimmy studies, but apparently it’s not enough because she ends up causing an explosion that rattles her professor. As a result, the dean has no other option but to expel her. However, she does get a consolation prize: Given her traumatic experience in the bunker, Columbia has decided to give her an honorary degree that was meant for Jimmy Smits. “We ended up not giving it to Jimmy Smits because Attack of the Clones was such a turd,” says the dean. This sort of counts as a win?
Given her recent expulsion, Kimmy decides to turn her attention to the dream she had at the beginning of the season: becoming a crossing guard. To get the job, she needs to pass a series of examinations, which includes a computer test that she aces and a simulation in the parking lot of the precinct, which involves her crossing-guarding a bunch of police officers in a parking lot. Eventually, the exam comes down to one test: Kimmy has to choose between directing an oncoming bus toward one person or toward a group of people. You know, your classic Trolley Problem that encapsulates utilitarianism, because we’ve kind of come full circle with the last episode. And Kimmy being Kimmy chooses option C and directs the bus to hit her, saving everyone. While this seems to undercut the lesson she learned in the last episode — that she doesn’t have to give all of herself over to help people and can’t help people until she’s helped herself — I don’t care because this still feels very much in character.
So Kimmy passes the test and all is well in her life — for about a minute before the cop tells her he can’t allow her to become a crossing guard since she’s still technically married to an imprisoned sex offender, the Reverend. Basically, trying to help Laura Dern’s character by not divorcing the Reverend ends ups screwing Kimmy over.
Naturally, this leaves Kimmy rather disheartened. When she goes home to a drunk and equally sad Lillian, who broke up with Artie, Kimmy explains how the world is basically like a Vidalia onion: When Vidalia onions debuted, people said they were as sweet as apples, which turned out not to be the case when Kimmy bit into one.
“The world is a Vidalia onion. It’s a lie, it stinks, and it makes you cry. Sooner or later you just gotta stop biting,” says Kimmy, which is rather heartbreaking to hear from the usual optimist.
Lillian was hoping Kimmy would be the one to cheer her up, but now Lillian realizes that Kimmy needs to be helped. So, Lillian heads to Columbia, hammer in hand, to talk to the dean. Instead, she runs into Zack, a recent college dropout Kimmy helped and who is now ready to return the favor. Zack decides to hire Kimmy to work at this Chuck-E-Cheese-esque playhouse he built because he needs someone with high emotional intelligence to handle his employees. This totally feels like the perfect job for Kimmy.
Jacqueline also finds her place in the world in the season finale. When Titus hears the “Boobs and California” song he recorded on the radio, she helps him get his cut of the bro-tastic song’s profits from creepy truther Gordy, and she pushes him to go after Mikey, who he’s still pining over, by pushing him to try to perform on the Mets Party Cruise Mikey is going on with his boyfriend of three months. Titus is initially reluctant to do this, but it ends up being the best thing for him because the sight of Mikey kissing his boo in the audience while he’s performing with Gordy, Gordi, and Gordee forces Titus to stop the performance and finally come clean to Mikey about how he feels (“I love you,” he says) instead of just double dutching him — i.e. stalking him and waiting for the right time to jump back into his life. It’s a nice character moment that conveys how far Titus has come this season. No more games or avoidance tactics. Titus confronts something head-on, and he doesn’t even lose it when he doesn’t necessarily get the response he was hoping for.
Helping Titus get that money and perform on that cruise made Jacqueline realize that she wants to become an agent, which is hilarious because she says she’s done sponging off of people. I’ll admit, I’ve never been terribly invested in Jacqueline’s story line and I couldn’t tell you why, but I admit that I did enjoy the growth she went on this season.
With that, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s third season ends with the characters finally putting it together. While the season didn’t necessarily reach the heights of season 2, it was still hilarious and poignant and remained one of the sharpest comedies on television right now. I can’t wait to see where it goes next season.
Estimated number of pop culture references: Honestly, I lost count, but here are some of my favorites from the episode:
- “Rich people don’t wait for organs. They just give a generous donation to the hospital and cut the line. There’s a whole chapter about it in Art of the Deal.” —Jacqueline to Lillian
- Titus: “Yet another example of white people stealing from black people. And I’m still not over what Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone did to jazz.” Lillian: “It’s payback ’cause you stole Hamilton from us.”
- The multiple jokes about Taye Diggs’ Twitter activity were hilarious. In case you didn’t know, Taye Diggs follows a lot of people on Twitter. It’s another great example of this show’s ability to mine laughs out of old punchlines.
Best cameo: Anastasia‘s (the musical) Derek Klena as DJ Fingablast, because that was pretty much the only notable cameo in the episode
Best Titus-ism: “It’s to double dutch back in.”
- “A Vidalia onion is not an apple.” —Kimmy (obviously)
- “Holy secret identity, Bat-president! You did tell a lie.” —Gordy as he covers George Washington’s face in a paper cowl
- “Hall was nothing without Oates. Dave would be nowhere without Buster’s. Do you think people would really go to a restaurant that’s just called Dave?” —Jacqueline to Gordy
- “You’re so fancy, like a chandelier from Beauty and the Beast.” —Mikey to Titus, who drops by the construction site to flaunt his newfound wealth, which takes the form of a rented peacock and Titus driving himself in a limo
Episode Grade: B+
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt