This episode it’s all about the exes and how once you’ve broken up, it’s hard to keep them in your life.
Unless you’re Jess of course.
Nick and Jess were at a farmers market where they ran into Caroline, Nick’s ex-girlfriend from the beginning of the series. Rather than handle the situation like an adult, he accidentally knocks over an entire stand of fruit.
Back at the loft with multiple bags of fruit in tow, Jess tells Nick that he needs closure. She says that she’s really good friends with her ex, Berkley, because of how amicable their breakup was. Nick says that they’re only close because Berkley still wants to sleep with her but Jess disagrees, saying that he has a wife and child now and that they’re just friends. Nick tries to get the guys to back him up and they all agree with him, saying that the only reason they ever stay friends with an ex is to open the possibility for more sex.
Jess is determined to prove her point and pushes Nick to meet up with Caroline despite his fear of her hurting him physically, or worse, hurting him with words.
Schmidt’s problem of the week is that, as he tells Cece, he’s in a bit of a sexual drought. Cece tells him he’s giving off a creepy vibe because of it and she tells him that he’s lonely living in his loft. Queue a jump cut to Schmidt having a very loud conversation to himself about finding the grapes in his fridge, only to find them later and cry while eating them.
The show knows how to write a good grape gag.
His goal is to fix the drought.
Nick is seen the next day at a café with Caroline, desperately wishing they could be drinking while doing this and it seems like things are going fine and he leaves and meets up with Jess. As they’re walking home, Caroline drives up beside them and yells at him about dating Jess and not telling her.
Jess needs him to explain how on earth 30 minutes could pass without him bringing up the two of them dating now. He says there’s a lot of interesting things on his mind that he found the need to mention. He’s worried now that Caroline thinks he cheated on her. Jess’s solution is for him to meet Berkley, who she thinks could give him some valuable advice. Nick isn’t so sure. He sees the text Jess sends him and tells her that if that’s the way she talks to him, she’s leading him on. Jess just think’s it’s her being friendly.
Meanwhile, across the hall Schmidt is showing off his apartment to Coach and Winston which has been decked out to resemble a James Bond set piece. Every spot in the room, he tells them, is equipped for different types of sexual dalliances. Typical Schmidt.
Berkley has arrived over at Jess and Nick’s and is asking the latter to explain the situation to him. Bringing in Adam Brody to play Jess’s ex-boyfriend is pretty genius considering he can play the needy, affable, “nice-guy” trope with ease. However, I still have a problem with not seeing him as Seth Cohen from The O.C, just like with Mary Elizabeth Ellis and how I can’t see her as anything but The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. However, getting to see Brody on my television again makes 16 year-old me unabashedly excited, even if he’s not playing the most likeable guy in the world.
He’s trying to give Nick advice on how to approach Caroline and tells him he just needs to allow for himself to be emotionally open with her since that’s what he and Jess did. He tells Nick that his and Jess’s breakup was so moving that they cried for two days straight afterwards.
This obviously doesn’t fly with the grouchy, closed off Nick who would rather have Caroline never interact with him again. He doesn’t think being friends with her will help, or will be at all possible so his response is to send a text saying “my bad, let’s be friends, k?” Obviously, this is in poor taste and when Berkley points it out to him he gets defensive and says that it was only his first draft.
It turns out it wasn’t when Caroline turns up outside of their apartment, yelling for Nick to come to the window so he can see her wreck what she believes to be his car. It isn’t, but he’s frightened nonetheless. This corresponds with Berkley taking Jess aside to tell her that he’s going to leave his wife because he’s still in love with Jess.
Jess is flabbergasted by the whole ordeal but is also humiliated at the idea of Nick finding out he was right about Berkley’s feelings towards her, so she tells him to stay quiet. She says that he’s crazy and that he has a wife and child to look out for and he says that he thinks she’ll make a wonderful stepmother.
He insists that she feels the same way, having been dropping hints about it for the past ten years. She says that they were all simply friendly gestures, but he found them to be flirtatious. Jess tries to get Berkley to leave but Nick says he should stay since with Caroline outside it isn’t safe for anyone in her warpath.
At Schmidt’s, things aren’t going much better. He’s finally found a girl who wanted to go home with him only to find Coach already in his loft, lying to a girl about his name being Schmidt and already using the bedroom. Coach begs him to let him stay and Schmidt concedes, saying he’ll use the guestroom only to find Winston already there. His second plan having been thwarted he comes up with the idea for him and his lady friend to stay in the living room as long as Winston, Coach and their dates stay in their designated areas. Obviously, this only leads to more of a mess.
Caroline has ended up right outside the door, yelling at Nick to talk to her. Nick first finds out that he was right and that Berkley does love Jess, but Jess tells Berkley quickly that she doesn’t love him. He still finds this hard to believe.
Caroline is let inside and tells Jess that she stole her boyfriend.
(Quick Note: I really, really can’t stand that she would blame Jess and not Nick since it was his fault it happened but it’s something we see too much in our culture already so I guess it was to be expected.)
Jess tries to explain to Caroline that Nick didn’t cheat on her, that there was a lot of life events that took place over a year or two of knowing each other before they finally admitted their feelings. Caroline tells Jess that this is still Nick in his trying phase, where he holds her hand and laughs at her jokes but soon it will be high fives and him not paying attention to her whenever she’s speaking, that two years will pass and he still won’t admit to why he broke up with her.
Ellis gives such a strong performance here that it’s easy to empathize with her, everyone having had a relationship in the past that did more bad than good. We look at Nick for a moment in the same light that Jess does as she excuses herself to go and collect her emotions. We can’t help but wonder if Nick has changed or if he will once again stop trying in the relationship.
Nick goes and finds Jess standing in the shower and crying. She gets one of the best lines as she tells him that she’s lived a very privileged life so this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. Nick says that he has something he needs to tell Caroline and it’s something that Jess should hear too.
Nick tells Caroline that he didn’t cheat on her but he might as well have because the moment that Jess walked into the loft he fell in love with her. Caroline says that she always thought it might have been Jess and it’s nice to know that she wasn’t crazy.
She and Berkley leave and Jess asks Nick if he meant what he said, acting as the audience’s voice, about loving her the moment he saw her because she remembers him being annoyed with her. He tells to stop talking and kisses her.
It’s easy to see her confusion and for a moment I doubted the comment and thought it was a convenient way to evoke an emotional response from the audience (it did, because I’m a sap) and a way to wrap up the Caroline storyline. It felt a little shoehorned in after we had watched the group take to Jess in differing ways.
But then you think back to the pilot episode where he was one of the first to rush to Jess after she’d been stood-up, you think of the episode where they went to a wedding and Jess was the one to comfort Nick, the Christmas episode where he did all he could to make her night special, the Halloween episode where he went into a Haunted House to ensure that Jess was okay and then the following episodes of sexual tension courtship. The pieces have always been there, the growth of the relationship set itself up in the very first episode of the show; it just didn’t work as well onscreen yet as it did on paper.
In retrospect, I believe Nick.
I can’t tell how much I enjoyed this episode. Looking at it objectively, it was funny, it had brief moments of poignancy and it told a story from beginning to end. There was nothing of note to pick apart at, it had Seth Cohen of The O.C. and The Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia guest starring and it had Winston, Schmidt and Coach shacking up in Schmidt’s stylish loft for a sex party.
However, the laughs were sparse and although the emotional moments were present, they didn’t match up to the warmth of the past few episodes and the laughs didn’t nearly match up to the episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine that followed, which had me howling.
It was a good episode but it was an episode I likely wouldn’t be racing to rewatch.
However, I won’t deny that Nick’s admittance of his feeling did give me chills.