Image: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
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In its penultimate episode, the characters are inching closer to their dreams—though of course it isn’t without complications. Tius lands on Broadway, sort of. Jacqueline is almost a legitimate talent agent now that she has signed Greg Kinnear (who makes another great cameo as himself). And Kimmy is about to get so much money that she can finally head to London and live out her wildest dreams!

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Then she finds out that Giztoob is an evil company that she helped build. The ambiguity of what Giztoob does has been a running joke, but the truth is unsurprising. It data mines people for their personal information and sell it to advertisers. It’s in line with the show’s almost dystopian portrayal of technology and capitalism, a portrayal that’s embodied by C.H.E.R.Y.L., my favorite robot on television. Even C.H.E.R.Y.L. is in on the data theft. She steals information from people in order to figure out how to best communicate with them, hilariously called “source code switching.” She has learned that Kimmy best responds to broken people, hence the messy drunk girl persona she takes around her. I haven’t given a shoutout to C.H.E.R.Y.L. yet this season, and this extremely sentient robot slash lamp might be one of my favorite side characters on the show. There’s something genuinely dark about an alcoholic robot, and it all feels distinctly Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy shouting “I feel like I’m losing you” at C.H.E.R.Y.L. has to be one of my favorite cuts to the theme song of all time.

All this information of course presents a moral dilemma for Kimmy, who has dedicated her life to doing the right thing. Taking a payout from a company that exploits and manipulates people isn’t her jam. But even though Kimmy has to sideline her dream of going to London by refusing to take the money, she’s able to rework the situation into helping her achieve another dream. She pressures Zach into helping her use the algorithm to direct impressionable young boys to her book in order to teach them to not be creeps. Kimmy takes a bad situation and spins it into something good, much like this show has long taken darkness and mined it for little gems of light and humor. “Kimmy Is Rich*!” frankly isn’t a standout episode of the series, but it is a solid one, one that encapsulates a lot of what this show is at its heart.

We take a small break from Mikey drama to focus on Titus’ everlasting search for fame. He takes his students to a production of Cats on Broadway, and a lot of the jokes surrounding the ridiculousness of the show Cats are just fine. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt often finds weird humor in unexpected places, and everything about the Cats subplot is pretty expected. (What is up with television’s obsession with Cats lately?) Still, the subplot works well in terms of Titus’ overall arc. Tituss Burgess is excellent throughout. It’s especially rewarding to see Titus interact with children, because he’s ruthless (“What you don’t know could fill a stadium”).

But then at the end, something shifts. A little girl asks Titus for his autograph after his final performance of Cats (he’s kicked out of the production after breaking the only rule of not telling anyone else that the show is completely fake and made up on the spot). She’s thrilled to be meeting a real Broadway performer. And even though the production may not have been real, he still was technically on Broadway, and getting this validation from the young fan lights Titus up with confidence that seems to go beyond his usual merely self-centered attitude.

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Jacqueline’s storyline follows a similarly predictable, by-the-numbers structure. Still, it’s also rewarding to see Jacqueline succeed in taking down Eli (guest star Zachary Quinto), particularly because he’s such a raging asshole. Tripp Knob is one of my least favorite bit characters on the show, but the episode gets some decent jokes in about his barbaric stupidity.

This really does feel like a very straightforward, standard episode of the series, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but “Kimmy Is Rich*!” doesn’t quite give the jolt that a penultimate episode should. Even with the twist ending, urgency heading into the finale is low. Nothing particularly surprising or insightful happens in the episode. Several of the final season’s storylines still feel very incomplete, especially when it comes to Titus. It isn’t necessarily disappointing, but it’s a lackluster lead-in to the farewell.

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Stray observations

  • “A kitty is born, and his name is Greg Catnear!”
  • “We all know I remind you of the hot girl from high school who made you do stuff for her.” Love you, Jacqueline.
  • So as for that twist ending: The apartment gets seized by the city as a designated shipyard.

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