Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 3 production still. Image: Eric Liebowitz / Netflix (via Netflix PR).
Episode 3: Kimmy acknowledges what happened in the bunker
This is not a happy moment. But it’s an important one. In Episode 3, “Kimmy Can’t Help You!” Wendy, a woman who wants to marry the Reverend and is trying to get Kimmy to sign divorce papers, compares Kimmy’s situation to a Noel Coward play. Kimmy, not understanding, replies with, “If Noel Coward was really a coward who rapes everybody.”
The show has always walked a strange, but careful line between over-the-top comedy and a serious conversation about trauma and its effect on people. The writing manages to keep things light-hearted enough to continue a difficult conversation but simultaneously does not attempt to lessen the impact of what Kimmy and other characters have gone through. This is one of those moments where Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt sticks a landing. We understand Kimmy so much better now, and that makes her choice at the end of the episode to put Wendy’s safety above her own happiness so much more powerful.
Kimmy’s world, as sunshiny and flowery as she makes it appear, is a terrifying and dark one at heart. 15 years in a bunker with a captor and a rapist is not something that just disappears or even fades quickly, something that we see again and again throughout season 3. Kimmy carries some hefty scars, something that allows her to recognize the same in Wendy (with Titus’s help) and make a choice to help a woman who is consistently attached to bad men. From this, we understand Kimmy just a bit better, and become so much more invested in her, one day, finding some peace.