12:12pm PT by Hilary Lewis
How 'Kimmy Schmidt' Sets Up Its Endgame
[The following story contains spoilers from the first half of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's fourth season.]
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ended the first half of its fourth and final season on an ominous note.
At the end of the sixth episode, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), Titus (Tituss Burgess), Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) and Lillian (Carol Kane) are being captured on camera, as a voice says he has eyes on the target and says he's moving to phase two.
What exactly phase two entails remains to be seen, but co-showrunner Robert Carlock tells The Hollywood Reporter that the "creepy mystery things" at the very end of the season, including Kimmy and her friends being watched, will be explained when the series returns for the second half of season four in 2019.
Carlock wouldn't comment on whether the nefarious forces targeting Kimmy and Co. are connected with Titus' sexual harassment experience with Mr. Frumpus at his Sesame Street audition.
"But it's all of a piece of larger arcs and stuff we've been talking about thematically within this season," he says.
Beyond that, Carlock says additional storylines set up at the end of the first half of the season will pay off in the second half as the series comes to an end.
"The series is all of a piece in our minds," he tells THR. "We have stuff that we're setting up in let's call it season four A, whatever you want to call it, with Titus' job and Titus' love life … and the larger arc of Kimmy finding her way and finding herself."
The co-showrunner, who co-created the series with Tina Fey, also reveals that a brief time jump between the first and second halves of the fourth season is being considered, but not such a big skip that "suddenly everyone's living somewhere else and doing something else."
By the end of the first half of the season, Kimmy is convinced that the way to change bad behavior in men is to teach boys instead of trying to change older men who are already set in their ways, something Carlock says is a bit of a "despairing" approach, albeit one reflecting Kimmy's traditional optimism.
"It's despairing in that, yeah, maybe you have to give up on where certain groups of people have gotten to," he says. "But it's meant, I think, more to be the most pushed version: Let's not give up on each other and Kimmy won't ultimately either."
"I think the larger message is can Kimmy succeed in what she's trying to do, which is be a better person herself but not give up on the people around her," he adds. "Of course, the sphere of the people around her, what that means, grows and grows and grows — is that impossible to hold on to?"
One of the developments that prompts Kimmy to focus on kids is a contentious meeting she has with Bobby Moynihan's men's rights activist, Fran Dodd.
Some of Fran's comments may be seen as rage-inducing by feminist viewers, and Carlock agrees but points out, "A lot of them are just things that people are saying all the time online and elsewhere."
"The national conversation is so bad right now and … the change from this discourse of 'We're going to have a woman president' to this men's rights movement is scary, and we're not far from the truth," he says. "And I don't think we're saying anything new or terribly deep, but it's something for us to expose our characters, most of whom have this very real and tragic cause for complaint, to. To encounter the anger of the disenfranchised white male seemed to hit that sweet spot for us of the ridiculous and comic on one hand and the pathos on the other that we kind of revel in."
Kimmy, Carlock points out, tries to empathize with Fran even though she's been through a real trauma.
"She's trying to connect with him as a person," Carlock says. "I think that's one of the things that we love about writing for Kimmy is she's trying to do something that a lot of people aren't bothering to do these days, which is make those connections."