Lacklustre story but still funny, even as an interactive show.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
If you like comedy, especially when it comes to the choose-your-own-adventure concept, you'll enjoy what Kimmy vs the Reverend has to offer.
Keeping with it surreal humour, KvtR will poke fun about the mechanics, sometimes breaking the fourth wall (Titus [Titus Burgess] points to the camera and address the viewer).
Unlike Bandersnatch's exploration into free will and determinism, KvtR takes a different tack by ridiculing the gimmick. Viewers will eventually arrive at a specific conclusion. Even if they make the wrong choice, they are offered a do-over and you make another choice. Right choices advance the story and wrong choices lead to amusing segues, like Jan the talking backpack will chime in about expecting "a lot more adventure" when you hit a premature end or the appearance of Robert Durst (Fred Armisen).
The cast is great as usual: Kemper and Burgess have great chemistry, thanks to the development of fours seasons worth of rapport; Hamm is having a ball with his Reverend Wayne character.
What we didn't like
If you like a compelling narrative, especially when it comes to the choose-your-own-adventure concept, you won't enjoy what Kimmy vs the Reverend has to offer.
Choose-your-own-adventure narratives work best if the choices you make are worth a damn. Meaning that when you reach a conclusion, it should feel earned; it should feel like it could be the main narrative as much as possible. If your decisions only alter a minute detail of the ending, it won't feel satisfactory; conclusions need to be disparate from one another instead of it be variants. If I make a choice, where I die in a car crash on the highway and another choice, where I still die in a car crash, this time at a cross junction, it feels like a waste of time.
There's also a missed opportunity here. I feel that this choose-your-own-adventure would be better suited for "Sliding Van Doors", the ninth episode of the fourth season, where the episode presents an alternate timeline where Kimmy was never kidnapped by Reverend Wayne. It would have been thematic given the story as you make a selection and we get to see different outcomes for the characters.
Because KvtR has only one definitive ending, the journey feels like you're entertained by the detours before it gets repetitive.
Would this have been better if it wasn't a 'choose-your-own-adventure' format but rather a normal special, one that focused on Kimmy's PTSD and her relationship with her captor and, maybe, about her wedding jitters? Because with regards to KvtR, I'm not completely sold by Kimmy's motivations and feelings towards Reverend Wayne in this special.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has always been a show about how someone can still move on after the tragedy of being sheltered from the rest of the world. It's a heavy premise but one that's buoyed by jokes and one-liners. We get Kimmy's affront towards Reverend Wayne but that was kinda resolved in the first episode of season three.
So when KvtR has Kimmy trying to find Reverend Wayne's secret second bunker, we understand why but when it comes to her vehemence towards him, it feels so… out of character. It wasn't set up that much in the special. And there are choices that led her down to murdering the man and then there's this sombre moment of her acknowledging her actions before the do-over; it's tonally weird for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt given the show's brand of humour. If KvtR wants to insert patois in a comedy show, they should get the playbook from The Good Place.
What to look out for
There are cameos and certain outcomes when you make the same choice multiple times.