Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Holiday "Classic" Recap: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: "Kimmy Goes to a Hotel!"

“But those papers have numbers on them, Rick! Numbers! The most boring of all the shapes!”

Technically, this episode of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” was about “Fake Christmas” and all the misadventures that happen to Kimmy and her friends on that day, but it was Christmas-y enough to count for this holiday blog post, I think! Especially since it was on a bunch of lists of holiday episode available for streaming (and it’s Kimmy Schmidt!). Kimmy decides to throw a “Fake Christmas” for her friends with all the trimmings, but everybody ends up getting called away for different reasons. Most of the episode focuses on Kimmy and her ex, Dong, but there’s also a charming Christmas Carol pastiche involving Titus, and a typically silly subplot involving Jacqueline that isn’t really all that worth watching (even if it did indirectly lead to the “While You Were Sleeping” send-up in season 3). The episode ends on a satisfyingly cheery holiday note, with Titus declaring that Fake Christmas is for spending time with your Fake Family. Found families are the best and always give me the warm fuzzies, so I appreciated this sentiment.

The episode opens with Kimmie ready to start celebrating Fake Christmas. Titus’s boyfriend, Mikey, even briefly stops by dressed as Santa Claus. Titus and Mikey do have a little argument about how Mikey wouldn’t pretend it was Titus’s birthday so they could get free ice cream at Baskin Robbins, but then Mikey has to leave. The celebration gets even more chaotic when, Sonja, Dong’s green card wife (who thinks he should really consider her his wife) shows up, accusing Kimmy of being a “ho, ho, ho.” She found Kimmy’s scrunchie under Dong’s pillow. Kimmy says that she and Dong definitely are not together anymore, and she left the scrunchie behind hoping he’d take her back. Sonja seems satisfied by this and warns Kimmy that because of her “invisibility helmet,” she could show up at any time.

Meanwhile, Titus is about to leave the party to go find another place to get free ice cream, but then he gets called into work because one of the shift managers got an audition for “breakdancing John Locke” in Hamilton. Titus isn’t thrilled about this when he realizes he can’t don his usual werewolf outfit (he works at a spooky dinner theatre) and sing his solo. Instead, he has to wear a gravedigger costume that looks suspiciously like Ebenezer Scrooge and do paperwork. He also gets to count “spooky coins,” which are what the dinner theater gives out as gift cards. He also gives a very Scrooge like speech to an employee who wants to go to the doctor due to an issue with his penis. Near the end of the episode, Titus finds out that the usual shift manager did actually get the role in Hamilton. Titus is offered the shift manager job permanently, but he has a quick series of visions (a young, hungry employee taking his Werewolf gig, a graying President Obama) that convince him he should quit his job and follow his bliss.

Jaqueline had crashed the Fake Christmas party to announce that “the Jews” were trying to take her prized painting. Apparently the painting was stolen during the Holocaust, Jaqueline later bought it, and now a nonprofit is trying to get it returned to its rightful owners. Lillian offers to help Jaqueline in this quest, considering, having been a nude model, she “knows” the art world. They go to a meeting with lawyers, where they meet Russ Snyder, the lawyer who is trying to get the painting back for his clients (whose names basically just constitute a lot of not super creative dick jokes). He’s rather slovenly, and he has no intention of letting Jaqueline keep that painting. He has a photo of his clients’ ancestors with the painting and everything. Later back at Jaqueline’s apartment, Lillian tells her she has a “guy” who could take care of the situation. Basically he’d make sure the painting was destroyed (probably by dogs) so Jaqueline could file an insurance claim. Jaqueline is broke, and this painting is the only thing of value she has left, so she seriously considers calling the number Lillian gave her. Then Jacqueline listens to a voicemail from her parents, where they’re so happy that a secret society at Yale returned a skull that belonged to their ancestors (while I love “Kimmy Schmidt” overall, I do find Jaqueline’s storyline awfully problematic). Jaqueline decides to do the right thing and return the painting. She also thinks Kimmy is wrong for thinking she’d be okay without a rich husband, so as soon as she hears that Russ has a private jet, she decides to move in on him.

To further make things right with Dong and Sonja, Kimmy stages a whole apology conversation with Dong while Sonja is watching and wearing her “invisibility helmet.” She says she’s finished with Dong, and they both say they hate each other. After Kimmy leaves, Sonja finally seems satisfied. Kimmy goes home and drowns her sorrows in hot chocolate. Just when she’s feeling really sorry for herself, Dong shows up and says he wants to run away with her. They decide to head to the Poconos of all places. They end up at an abandoned resort that still has a “Happy 2003” banner hanging up. Kimmy swears the fax line was still working when she called from the road, but it turns out the noise she heard was just a raccoon.

Kimmy and Dong decide to make the best of the situation. The fact that the resort is abandoned means they can choose whatever room they want. The heart-shaped tub in the room they choose doesn’t work, but the bed seems okay. Once they’re settled in, they start to ponder what to do next. Dong wants to lose his “American virginity,” but Kimmy wants to raid the candy machine. So they raid the candy machine. And they play with the luggage cart. And they pretend to work the reception desk. And they pull the tablecloths off all the tables in the ballroom. They even dance a bit. Eventually, they go back to their room, and Kimmy acknowledges that yes, this is probably a situation where they should have sex. Every time they start trying to make out, though, Kimmy involuntarily hits Dong in the head with a phone. Clearly there’s some trauma from her time in the bunker still buried.

Kimmy and Dong go to a nearby convenience story to pick up an ice pack for Dong’s head. Kimmy laments how she wanted their first time to be like Dawson’s Creek, and who shows up as the convenience store clerk but Joshua Jackson himself. Only here, his name is Purvis. He’s got a great monologue where he basically sticks up for Pacey that I found amusing but probably would have found even funnier if I had ever watched Dawson’s creek. Purvis says he doesn’t intend to have sex because he thinks it’s gross, but with the right person, it would probably be okay. Kimmy then decides to buy some condoms to go with the ice pack. Back at the resort, Dong tries to put on one of the condoms, but it turns out he has a latex allergy. Kimmy ends up having to call 911. The officers figure out Dong is committing green card fraud, and they’re going to have him deported. Before that happens, though, Kimmy and Dong have sex in the back of the police car (Kimmy feels more comfortable about it with Dong in handcuffs, apparently).

The group (minus Dong, naturally) ends up gathered back at the apartment. Titus is out of breath from running for four hours (he thought it would be festive), but he definitely has the Fake Christmas spirit. He’s glad to spend Fake Christmas with his Fake Family, and he even sings a song about it. Kimmy and Lilian join in, and it’s a nice little moment. It's the kind of warm, fuzzy moment that makes this a real holiday episode, even if it's about a "Fake" holiday.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lucifer 3.10: “The Sin Bin”

“I’m telling you, Obi Wan Can’t See Me is Maggie’s only hope.”
- Lucifer

Welcome to the fall finale of “Lucifer”. Last week, our Devil finally met the Sinnerman. The one who took away his face and gave him back his wings. When last we saw, the Sinnerman had gouged out his own eyes to keep Lucifer form deducing his deepest desire. Something tells me that’s not going to stop Lucifer from trying to get what he wants!

In typical Lucifer fashion, our dear Devil thinks he can still get one up on the Sinnerman, even without eyes. Lt. Pierce however is running a tight ship. He suspects the killer wants to escape and he refuses to let that happen. Well, that theory gets tested when Chloe starts questioning the Sinnerman and his phone rings with video footage of an abducted woman. Lucifer thinks that they can use the Sinnerman to get them to the victim before she drowns but everyone else insists on following police procedure. So, thanks to the missing woman’s driver’s license photo, Chloe and Lucifer end up at a roller derby rink. I’m not much into sports but this one just seems stupid. They basically hit a dead end (as Lucifer predicts) until one of the other team members tells them the girl’s car is parked in a free lot. They find it and before Chloe can call in forensics, Lucifer tries to open the door and the car explodes.

With every other avenue shut down, Lucifer and Chloe devise a way to get the Sinnerman out of police custody to find the missing girl. It involves using Ella to distract Lt. Pierce and giving Dan a fake bomb (but he doesn’t know it’s fake). Poor Dan, he’s just having a weird day. He forgot to book the babysitter (who is dead) and then he and Trixie run into Charlotte at the coffee shop and Trixie thinks it is a good idea to hang out with Charlotte as her babysitter. That was just all kinds of weird if I’m being honest. I mean Trixie is adorable and often rather insightful and seeing both Dan and Charlotte squirm under her questioning was funny. But still, kind of a weird combo.

Chloe and Lucifer’s plan nearly works until they get in the bomb squad van and find Pierce in the driver seat. He’s not going to let them take off without him because he’s still convinced the Sinnerman is going to make an escape. But he stays true to his word and leads them to the girl. Chloe and Pierce are able to rescue her but by the time they get her to safety, Lucifer and the Sinnerman are gone. Sure, the guy probably has an accomplice but something tells me this disappearing act was all Lucifer. Just as they think that the victim can tell them what happened, she confesses that she used the Sinnerman to get the top spot on the derby team and that if she didn’t fake her own abduction, she’d get killed. Okay, I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Lucifer has taken the Sinnerman to one of his palatial homes in the hills where our Devil intends on getting answers and also hopefully getting his wings clipped and his face back. But the Sinnerman is less than cooperative. Even after Maze works him over, he’s not talking. This gives Lucifer the stupid idea to kill the guy and fall from grace. Maze points out the idiocy of the idea, since you know, God will be super pissed about the whole situation. And then when Lucifer tries to do the deed, he ends up stalling. First, he’s distracted by the happy eyes he drew on the Sinnerman’s blindfold. On a side note, the eyes coupled with the Sinnerman’s expressions was pretty hilarious. And then he can’t decide how to kill the man. All the while, the team is trying to find him. Dan chips in with a list of real estate holdings from back when he was super jealous of Lucifer and Chloe pegs the one he’s at.

She and Pierce get to the house to find kind of a bizarre situation. The Sinnerman tells Lucifer that he wants to die and that it has to be Lucifer that does it. He doesn’t get to expound on the why of that need because Pierce bursts in and kills him. Lucifer is quite flummoxed by the whole thing and then things take a turn when Chloe ends up mad at him, too for not following her lead and going behind her back. I’m sure he’ll find a way to fix that relationship. He always does. We know they are totally endgame. The more interesting twist that I didn’t see coming even a little bit hits at the very end of the episode. Lucifer is looking through evidence and finds a photo of the Sinnerman as a child with a man’s beefy bicep around him with an interesting circle birthmark. Lucifer calls Pierce to Lux for a chat wherein Lucifer lays out his theory. The Sinnerman was the accomplice to someone else: Pierce. Lucifer has deduced that the mark is that of an immortal man cursed by God to walk the earth forever after committing the first sin. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Cain. Lucifer stabs him in the chest with a blade for good measure, just to prove he’s right. Pierce eventually gets up and joins Lucifer at the bar. My mind is racing now. I’m so confused. Does Pierce really want to hurt Lucifer? Are they going to team up? I’m assuming given that Peirce is immortal means he somehow had the power to mess with Lucifer? But why would he turn him back into an angel? What’s his motivation? Why do we have to wait so long for answers? Sure, the show comes back on New Year’s Day but we are flashing back five years in the plot to see when Lucifer first got to LA. I want to see what happens in the present!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lucifer 3.09: “The Sinnerman”

“This isn’t just another murder, it’s a message. For me.”
- Lucifer

After some entertaining detours, we are back on the case of finding out who took Lucifer’s devil face (and gave back his wings) and why! Lucifer has been granting favors to all sorts of people of late, including young Joey who wanted to be in the mob. Too bad that lands him in the morgue with two broken legs and two bullets to the chest. Lucifer and Chloe bring in the man that Lucifer introduced Joey to (with Charlotte in tow because she’s now a prosecutor which is all kinds of weird) and Lucifer uses his mojo to find out that their guy isn’t the killer. And just as hi alibi comes through; another body comes in. yet another of Lucifer’s former favor recipients has been murdered. She was from much longer ago so clearly whoever the killer is has a way of keeping tabs on all of Lucifer’s handouts. It makes you wonder how long this person has been around!

Thanks to Ella, they at least have his DNA and match it to a case out of Chicago (which if memory serves is where Lieutenant Pierce encountered the Sinnerman. So at least Chloe now believes this person is real. Lucifer is also acting rather reckless after the second body drops and ends up heading off alone to face the Sinnerman (who called him to no doubt lure him out). He really shouldn’t have gone off on his own. Sure, without Chloe he’s basically invulnerable but this guy also managed to knock out Lucifer and do things to trigger and suppress his angelic and demonic abilities!

Too bad both Maze and Amenediel aren’t available. Maze is back and was hoping to chill with Linda (her favorite gal pal) but Linda is preoccupied with spending time with Amenediel. That vibe I picked up n the last episode blossoms this week into a full on make out session. At least Linda also raised some interesting questions to both Lucifer and Amenediel about their powers. She wanted to know who decided which power they got and whether it was related to their personality. A worthwhile question indeed. I’m not sure how I feel about this new romantic relationship. I honestly liked the dichotomy of Maze and Amenediel and clearly, she is pissed that he’s moved on (and with someone that Maze cares about).

Lucifer ends up getting trapped by the Sinnerman in a walk-in freezer in a building that’s been abandoned for like a decade. That doesn’t stop Maze from tracking him down and forcing him to listen to what she has to say. She is really upset with the whole Linda and Amenediel thing and Lucifer (despite being self-centered and only thinking about getting out of the freezer to exact his revenge on the Sinnerman) gives her good advice. She needs to figure out what she really wants and act on it. So, she actually listens to him (after letting him out). She goes to see Linda later on and admits that it makes her upset seeing her best friend and exe together. She asks Linda not to “go there”. Too bad it’s probably already happened. That’s going to have some interesting fallout. I do hope that the three of them can be adults about the whole thing. It isn’t like Linda or Amenediel are doing it to hurt Maze. They’ve just found each other at a particular point in their lives where they need one another. Maze being a demon and all will probably react badly (either by throwing rocks at cars or giving Amenediel a pounding).

We do also get some rekindling of the Dan/Charlotte relationship when he finds her weeping in the men’s bathroom. See them I like. They had an interesting chemistry and bond and I want to see that reborn with the real Charlotte at the reins of her life. I still want Maze and Amenediel back together and for the love of all things holy, let Chloe know the truth soon! Show her the damn wings already man!

As the Devil continues on his revenge kick, Chloe uses Charlotte to lean on the mob guys in the hopes that they’ll do the leg work and find the Sinnerman for the police. There’s also a very awkward stakeout where Chloe admits she needed a personal day due to the anniversary of her dad’s on-duty death and Pierce admits the Sinnerman killed his brother. And then the bullets start flying. Luckily, they take the Sinnerman into custody alive. Lucifer wants his chance with the man to look him in the eyes and work his mojo to find out what the bad guy really wants. It appears, though, he won’t get that shot because while in police custody, the Sinnerman gets his hand on a knife or scalpel and gouges out his own eyes. How he did it without screaming bloody murder is beyond me but Lucifer is pissed!

I’m glad this episode brought us back to the main overarching plot of the season. I do wish we got some more answers rather than teases. We are likely going into the hiatus soon and all we know is the Sinnerman is blind now and that’s it. How Lucifer will get his answers is beyond me. And how can he trust them? From the promo for next week we know that Lucifer kidnaps the Sinnerman and under torture, many people tell you what you want to hear. Is he a demon? Is he another celestial being of some sort? He has to know the truth about Lucifer to give him back his wings. I just want answers! And for Chloe to finally see who he really is and accept him. No more of this random sort-of chemistry with Pierce. From the time they introduced Lucifer and Chloe as a possible couple, I’ve wanted that as the outcome. It’s time now, three seasons in, to give that a try. If it doesn’t work out, fine. But at least let them go for it with all the cards on the table.

The Good Place 2.07: “Derek”

“We’re not starting over, we’ve come too far. Our only options are to reboot either Janet or Derek.”
- Michael

This week’s episode showed quite a bit of growth for many of our characters which was a nice change. Janet’s new boyfriend Derek is giving Michael quite the headache. He pops up every time Janet is called for and he’s worried that will blow their cover. But Chidi won’t let him just kill Derek. So, to keep as few people in the know, Michael sends Tahani and Jason on a little getaway. They start off playing croquet and then Jason convinces her to play some weird drunken version of golf. And then, as they are walking and talking, he suggests they get married. Tahani is surprised by the proposal but after a little while, she agrees.

That’s going to cause some serious issues because Chidi and Eleanor now know that Janet made Derek to get over Jason (and they now know that Jason was married to Tahani). Eleanor feels a touch guilty about the whole thing given that Janet did this on Eleanor’s word to get a rebound guy. But she’s got her own secrets to deal with. She’s been watching the creepy sex tape of her and Chidi professing their love for one another but she hasn’t shared that news with him. She does have more pressing matters to attend to when Janet and Derek start going through a huge fight and Derek just starts appearing places without Janet and acting really weird. Also, not that it is really that important but he kind of looks like a young Timothy Omundson which made me kind of sad because he’s such a great character actor.

When Michael, Chidi and Tahani get their wedding invitations, they come to the agreement that they need to stop the wedding and break up Tahani and Jason so that maybe Janet won’t feel sad anymore and get rid of Derek. They bust up the weird little ceremony (I swear these two really don’t have anything in common and don’t really make sense together) and Eleanor explains about the marriage from the first version of the neighborhood. And then, Eleanor gets real with Janet. She admits that she didn’t realize Janet’s feelings for Jason were so deep and that her loss of him was such a heartbreak. She gets kind of emotional and says that Janet just needs to sit with the emotions for a while and then move on. It’s actually some decent advice which is strange coming from Eleanor. But hey, she is starting to become a better person. Or at least she’s trying. The wedding is definitely off but Jason doesn’t know how he feels about all of this. He’s got no memory (obviously) of being married to Janet and he still likes Tahani. It does seem like they will slowly start to get to know each other and see if they want to move forward after that. I fi had to pick, I’d almost rather have Jason with Janet because it’s just a funnier dynamic and Tahani is my least favorite of the cast. But, Janet is now equipped emotionally to let Derek go. It’s slightly awkward that she has to reabsorb her memories from him by making out with him. And for whatever reason she gave him wind chimes in lieu of penis.

After Janet goes off to hide Derek in a cargo crate in her void, Eleanor bites the bullet and comes clean to Chidi about the video. He’s not entirely surprised she kept it from him. He’s more shocked he was able to tell her “I love you” so easily. She goes on to say that she can’t understand how she could say it to him so easily back then either. When Chidi admits he doesn’t think he has those feelings for her now, she tries to cover the fact that she’s hurt by that by insisting she’s relieved that he doesn’t feel that way because she doesn’t either. He clearly wants to talk about the situation more (I do hope they eventually get to that point again. I think they do make a good couple), but Michael barges in and needs to talk to Eleanor. He wants to know how she can stick with the whole ethics lessons when the whole neighborhood was designed to throw things at her that she would normally have just given up with in life. She says that even when she was alive, she had a little voice in her head that would kind of tell her when she was doing bad things. Oh, so she did in fact have a conscience! She likes now that the voice is gone because she’s at least trying to be a better person and work on herself. This seems to help Michael but as they are talking, given the camera angle, you know someone is watching them and may now be hip to their plan.

Well folks, I really did enjoy this episode and it’s the last one for a while as the show goes on hiatus (thanks football and your stupid schedule). Now we won’t know who caught Michael collaborating with the humans and what that means for our core four until sometime in 2018. I’m still not sure if the end game of the season is going to be them actually getting into the real Good Place or not. I mean, if the show goes on for another season after this, I can’t imagine them being in the Good Place would be all that interesting. As much as I enjoy the show, I do question the writing more often than not of what will happen and if they are writing themselves into corners they can’t get out of. But for now, we will have to wait and see if Michael can get himself out of the hot seat and avoid letting Sean know that not only are they not on trial number two, but that he's been working against the rest of the demons in the neighborhood to try and get out of there so he doesn’t get retired!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Good Place 2.06: "Janet and Michael"

“They keep their Janets in a neutral pocket dimension beneath the shapeless time void. It’s right next to accounting.”

“Michael and Janet” was a bottle episode, so not much happened, but it was entertaining in the way that it really dug into the title characters and showed us some new things about both of them. It was interesting to see Michael and Janet’s relationship develop over the very long amount of time they’ve spent with each other (over 800 resets takes up a lot of time!). We also learn a lot more about how Janet works and what she thinks about things. I really enjoyed seeing how Michael and Janet first met and some of the highlights of their creating the OG version of the neighborhood together. It was also interesting to find out the true source of Janet’s glitching and everyone’s reaction to it. Overall, it was a fun little pause in the action, and I’m very interested to see where Janet’s latest actions take the gang next.

Janet has been glitching, and the consequences are serious (I think earthquakes and changing the fabric of reality is serious, at least). We open the episode with a flashback to how Michael and Janet first met. Much like the Doctor and his TARDIS, Michael stole his Janet. He needed an authentic Good Place Janet for his nefarious plan, and luckily, the Good Place architects are so trusting that they didn’t really secure their supply. Michael is able to steal her easily. He has to explain to Sean why a Bad Place Janet pretending to be good won’t do, though. He explains it through a demonstration where a Bad Place Janet completely melts from trying to be nice. Our Janet of course, is only too happy to help Michael build his neighborhood, even when he warns her it’s going to be a bit different from what she’s used to. Janet assures Michael that while she builds and operates the neighborhood, the design is all his.

In the present day, Michael gets Janet to find her manual (which is in her nose, apparently), and he starts running some diagnostics. She passes early tests with flying colors (including producing an ostrich steak impaled on a 40th birthday pencil). When Michael reads that trying to process information other than objective truth can harm a Janet, Michael worries that her glitching is all his fault. After all, when they first met, he lied about being a Good Place architect and about what they were going to be building. Janet reassures him that if Michael’s lying was the culprit, the glitching would have started much sooner. The cause of the glitching starts to become more clear when Tahani and Jason stop by wondering why Janet isn’t appearing for them. Jason wants to procure some jalapeno poppers for Tahani to try. This is the first Michael realizes that Tahani and Jason have been sleeping together. Janet says she’d be happy to produce some poppers once Michael is finishing his diagnostics. Then a really bad glitch happens – so bad that the room everyone is standing in disappears, and everything is just black.

Tahani and Jason leave, and Michael and Janet are left to contemplate the consequences of what just happened. It turns out that after 800-plus reboots, our Janet has gained the ability to lie. The problem is that her lying comes with earthquakes and other worse glitches. Michael puts together the pieces that it all stems from when Janet and Jason were married during her second reboot. There’s part of Janet that is still in love with Jason, and it has intensified with ever reboot. Every time Janet says she’s happy to help Jason and Tahani with something related to their relationship, glitches happen. Janet at first doesn’t want to believe this, but when she accepts it, she thinks there is only one solution. She wants Michael to kill her, and she even points him to the self-destruct section of the Janet manual. She’s convinced that if she’s killed, another Janet can take her place, and all will be well again.

We get a brief interruption from Chidi, who shows up at Michael’s old office covered in needles (Michael had encouraged Vicky’s latest torture idea to get her to go away and leave him to diagnose Janet). Michael basically just shoos him away. Janet again asks Michael to kill her. He grabs a paperclip and is ready to do the deed, but then we get a flashback to when they were first building the neighborhood. The place was full of pudding shops, but Michael didn’t think it was quite right. He also didn’t think Janet could help him make it right. Then he asks her to name something people think they like but is really just okay. When she replies with frozen yoghurt, Michael knows he has a winner. Janet is just happy he’s happy, regardless of whether or not this means that something just “okay” is going to be part of their neighborhood. In the present day, Michael tells Janet he can’t kill her because they’re friends. Furthermore, she’s his oldest, most loyal friend. Janet is flattered, but she still wants Michael to kill her.

Michael wants to use a different tactic. Since this is an emotional, human problem (even though Janet isn’t human), he wants to bring in a human to help. Specifically, Eleanor. Eleanor is a bit surprised at the whole story (and thinks it’s TMI), but she’s got good advice for Janet. She reminds Janet that she has all the knowledge in the universe and a bangin’ bod, so she should be able to recover from this Jason thing nicely. She just really needs to find a rebound guy. Janet takes this advice to heart, and she says she’s going to go to her void for a little while to figure things out. When she returns, we learn she has created a rebound boyfriend named Derek who is just as dumb (maybe even moreso) than Jason and is played by the guy who played Pimento on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Michael does not seem pleased by this turn of events at all, although Janet seems happy.