Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Recap: Merry Fake Christmas

Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, Ki Hong Lee as Dong. Photo: Eric Liebowitz/Netflix
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Episode Title
Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!
Editor’s Rating

This show is certainly full of surprises. As with most season-opening flash-forwards, I wasn't expecting the Christmas scene to arrive until the finale, but it turns out Kimmy and friends were celebrating Fake Christmas all along. Your questions, answered: The Jews who "stole" Jacqueline's Mondrian actually had it stolen from them by the Nazis; Sonya is calling Kimmy a ho because she found her scrunchie under Dong's pillow; Mimi Knassis is passed out on the couch because she had nowhere else to go on Fake Christmas (which, as Titus reminds Kimmy, just means she had nowhere to go on a Thursday).

This Fake Christmas, the greatest gift of all is that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt chose not to push the Dong-related stuff to the finale. Instead, Dong admits that trying to keep Kimmy away just isn't worth it, even if he ends up getting deported. While a fun episode could have been had with just Dong and Kimmy goofing off in their abandoned hotel in the Poconos, I'm also equally impressed that UKS decided to address the elephant in the room of Kimmy losing her virginity (or at least the virginity she gets to choose losing — although Kimmy was definitely assaulted in the bunker, the show always shies away from saying whether she was outright raped).

Having Kimmy back off from sex altogether would have been easy, given her simmering PTSD (she beans poor Dong with a phone twice just for kissing her). Instead, the show digs in and extends her character's insistent resilience to sex, having her take the lead on buying lingerie (admittedly a kid's outfit from Frozen, but still), purchasing condoms, and ultimately, doing the deed in the back of a cop car. It's awesome that the show is being less protective of Kimmy, as she begins to really engage with hard topics instead of bolting right past them into a cloud of sunshine and flowers. Another hard topic that it'll definitely have to address: Dong is almost certainly getting deported, thanks to his and Kimmy's arrest for trespassing in the hotel/federal raccoon sanctuary. Not sure how they'll write their way out of that corner — hopefully, it won't be via Kimmy getting pregnant, since Dong's latex allergy almost certainly means they didn't use a condom.

While Kimmy is stumbling towards adulthood, Jacqueline is regressing. It's not surprising to see her latch back on to the idea of tying herself to a rich man (in this case, David Cross's weirdo art lawyer), given how much the chips are down: Her Native-American cause is a bust, her money is quickly running out, and now that $11.5 million Mondrian is on its way back to the Wiener-Hurtzalot-Kouzabutts clan with no financial recourse. Of course, that doesn't make it any less painful to watch Jacqueline give up. The character's shown so much growth and resilience this season (including not destroying the Mondrian to get the insurance money, despite Lillian's offer to hook her up with a guy who rigs WNBA games), and it would be a bummer to see all of that progress disappear.

The only character who ends up fully committing to Fake Christmas is Titus, who finds himself becoming Scrooge for a day after he's forced to manage the restaurant. This plot line is underbaked, since it's just a couple of scenes, but it does manage to wedge in a couple of good jokes, namely when Titus sees the ghost of Christmas past in the form of a young waiter getting to take on his role ("Good-bye Rodney Simmons, hello Troilus Cressibo, star on the rise!") and the ghost of Christmas future in the form of President Obama going gray.

The Scrooge plot line mostly serves as an excuse for Titus to quit his job (presumably to allow for some other, weirder career paths), and reunite with his fake family in a charming final scene of carols around the piano, complete with asbestos snow falling from the ceiling. To the tune of "O Come All Ye Faithful," they sing: "Come on let's order pizza / Come on let's order pizza / I'd also order Mexican / I'm ooooooout of cash."

Other Notes:

  • This episode was directed by Steve Buscemi, whom you may remember as Steve Busk-em-eye from Gretchen's Apple watch.
  • Jacqueline and Lillian's attempt at forging the Mondrian, which turns out to actually be a painting of the botched Jesus fresco, is a pause-the-show-for-a-full-minute-of-hysterical-laughter moment. I really love how frequently UKS uses my expectations of TV tropes against me.
  • I wasn't into Dawson's Creek (or in Vietnam, "The Creek of the Son of Daw") in its heyday, so some of the nuance of the references were lost on me. But I deeply appreciate Joshua Jackson's commitment to thoroughly showcasing his annoyance. "[Joey] makes sex sound like some kind of McDonaldland gift card that you give your dog-walker for Christmas … How about 'This is because I find you really attractive, Pacey. This is because I love your doughy little-boy body and I know it's gonna tighten up one day!'"
  • Lillian, entering Jacqueline's apartment: "Would you look at this place? A Wall Street fella could really kill a lady in here."
  • Speaking of Lillian, this is the second time she's implied her house is actually a tugboat. Now waiting for this gun to go off in spectacular fashion.
  • Mimi Knassis moment of the episode: When Kimmy asks her where everyone's gone, she incorrectly screams, "Jacqueline took the old lady to the movies and the black guy's dead!" and then immediately falls back asleep.
  • While Julianne Moore gets a pass from Titus, Cate Blanchett does not: "Is she great? Or is she just tall?" Based on the characters' pondering expressions, I think I know what Tina Fey's answer is.