New Girl: Season 3, Episode 15
After the wackiness of the post-Super Bowl episode of New Girl, the show went back to being a bit more insular, focusing this week on Jess and Nick’s exes. This episode followed a familiar formula between Nick and Jess. Nick has one philosophy (Men who are friends with their exes just are there for sex) and Jess has an opposing view (she is friends with her ex who totally does not want to have sex with her – they’re friends. Two people who shared parts of their life together should have some sort of relationship.) Jess’ creepy relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Berkley (Adam Brody), should have been cause for alarm from the start, much more so than Nick’s general avoidance of Caroline (Mary Elizabeth Ellis).
The return of these two characters was serendipitous and felt generally hollow. Nick sees Caroline at the farmer’s market and can’t bring himself to tell her why the relationship ended. Jess, trying to show Nick how two exes can be friends, has a delusional relationship with Berkley – so much so that the reveal at the end that he does in fact want to get back together with her is so painfully obvious. It’s been a while since Caroline was a recurring character on the show, but my memory is that she wasn’t always this insane. This week after Nick tries to explain to her about how the relationship ended, she sees Nick and Jess together, sending her off on a rage spiral.
It wasn’t until the third act where we saw any human emotion coming from anyone. It was only when Caroline breaks her way into the loft to confront Nick that we hear any explanation about why the relationship ended and what Caroline has to say to Jess. When Caroline explains that Jess will end up like her as Nick grows more and more distant – I felt real pain for Jess. But I also found it to be an incredibly cruel move by someone who, in all likelihood, would have moved on from Nick by this point. That Nick proclaimed that the beginning of the end with Caroline was kicked off as soon as Jess walked in the door was sweet, but I found myself unsatisfied with the arc of the episode.
New Girl has walked this path numerous times, fixating on how Nick and Jess are different, then giving them a half hour to see each other’s way of doing things. Then they love each other! Jess realizes Berkley’s a scumbag and Nick realizes he should have an honest conversation with Caroline. Everyone has a good point. Everyone’s better off. I just want to see Nick and Jess be together. The show has handled their relationship well when it isn’t just about how opposite they are. We had two seasons already breaking that down. Look to some of the most moving Nick-Jess moments and its not about how one proves the other’s point, it’s about how they care for each other. For example, Jess goes above and beyond for Nick at his father’s funeral because she LOVES him. In that moment we love her for being by his side (even if they weren’t really together). For Jess’ birthday, Nick went out of his way to try to give her a special day because he LOVES her.
This is not to say that there is no room for conflict between the two. It’s just the issues between the characters have felt like Mad Libs of relationships. First there is a problem, then Nick shares his old man, grumpy philosophy. Jess responds with hers. They disagree and storm off to their respective rooms until they are both proven right. New Girl has gone in more interesting directions than this and I hope to see that be more the norm than this. That isn’t to say I hated this episode – it’s just the structure felt very tired. The viewer can easily see how things will play out. There were emotionally satisfying moments, mainly Nick talking about his feelings for Jess and the end of his relationship, and there were plenty of laughs, which mostly came from the Schmidt/Winston/Coach side of the episode (which will be relegated to notes this week). The polar opposites worked very well when Nick and Jess were still will they/ won’t theys, but they’re together now – let them be together.
-Burn them swiftly and give their ashes to Poseidon – Nick on Exes
-Can’t spell sex without the Ex - Coach
-Schmidt was behind most of the laughs this week, between his embarrassing attempts to pick up women and his general loneliness while living in the loft alone.
-Adam Brody brought the perfect amount of smugness, complete with constant reminders of how wise he is now that he’s a father.
-Bertie’s back! And she’s down for an orgy!
-“Guys, I’m really happy that we’re doing this.” Schmidt before the sex farce in his loft goes up in flames.