Film and TV

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 Finale: An Emotional (and Literal) Rollercoaster

Each week, we're recapping the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode by episode.

"Kimmy Finds Her Mom!" marks the end of the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and it has a high standard to meet, as the final episodes of season one depicting the Reverend's trial remain probably the best thing the show's ever done. This finale falls short of those expectations, but it still concludes the season in a satisfying way.

Kimmy travels to Orlando to confront her rollercoaster-addicted mom at Universal Studios and get over her abandonment issues. But her mother, Lori-Anne Schmidt (played by Lisa Kudrow), apologizes immediately, and they connect over their difficulty in coping with the kidnapping. They spend the day exploring the park together and reconnecting, but when Lori-Anne leaves Kimmy to make a rollercoaster on time, Kimmy lets loose all her pent-up anger. The two ride the coaster over and over, letting fly everything they've wanted to say to one another for all these years. Ultimately, they part on tense but tolerant circumstances.

Given Kimmy's usually written on a model where scenes serve as catalysts to get out as many jokes as possible, it's remarkable how all this plays out relatively humorlessly. It instead remains focused on character, and on the positive and negative extremes the two of them go through over the course of the day. When they're at their best together, we can start to see that Kimmy got a lot of the elements of her kooky personality from her mother. But when they let all their frustration out, the anger on both sides feels legitimate and justified, with Kimmy furious that her mother abandoned her and Lori-Anne scared but doing her best. It all comes home when Kimmy accepts the kidnapping and forgives her mom, which feels like the step she's been trying to take for this entire season.

Titus, on the other hand, gets cold feet before boarding the bus to get to his cruise, and impulsively decides instead to ride a bus headed for Titusville (a real town in Florida). The town doesn't have much to offer besides the Kennedy Space Center, but he still decides that he loves it there. He even wins a raffle to have dinner with an astronaut, but that astronaut turns out to have never gone to space because NASA shut down the program before he had the chance. This inspires Titus to leave Titusville and get on his cruise after all.

Most of the fun here comes from Titus trying his hardest to convince himself and everyone around him that he cares about space even a little bit. "Weightlessness? Non-melting ice cream? Buff scientists? I think the burden's on you to prove that I haven't cared about space this entire time," he says to Kimmy. But the lesson he learns and the decision he makes here are basically the same as last episode, and he ends this one in the exact same emotional place that he started. This feels like the writers simply didn't know what to do with Titus before putting him on the cruise, or that they found out about a town named Titusville and couldn't resist putting him there even though the story didn't have legs.

Meanwhile, two brief subplots with Jacqueline and Lillian do little other than set up the characters for next season, but that's plenty at this point. Jacqueline hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for Russ and his family, where she learns they own the Washington Redskins. Given her Native American heritage, this feels like a dealbreaker for Jacqueline and she tries to end things with Russ, but he says he hates his family and the team's name, and they pledge to take the Redskins down together. This sounds like it'll give Jacqueline the chance to properly do some of the good she tried and failed to accomplish this season, and it also sounds like we'll be seeing a lot more of David Cross, which certainly bodes well for next season.

Lillian, on the other hand, finds out her attempted protest only raised awareness about the new developments in her neighborhood and feels responsible for the increase in gentrification. She throws in the towel and puts the "house" up for sale, until a man from a historic preservation organization knocks on her door. He found her protest inspiring, he says, and encourages her to run for office. We don't find out which office exactly, or what the political race will entail, but it's hard to imagine a storyline with Lillian as an active politician that isn't great.

One last thing: Kimmy gets a phone call from the Reverend, who says he found someone and plans to get married - and that means he and Kimmy need to get a divorce. Yikes. It's hard to speculate on what exactly this means with only that much information, but it sounds like we'll soon learn about the events in the bunker with a lot more detail.

Biggest Laugh: Definitely the pitch-perfect parody of the classic crying Indian TV ad, in which Lillian cries when she sees someone recycling.

Biggest Surprise: Lisa Kudrow's appearance and Kimmy's marriage are the kinds of big twists we expect out of a season finale, so instead we're gonna hand it to the reveal that Russ owns the Redskins, which really came out of left field.

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