“New Girl”- Winston’s Birthday episode review 3

Jess (Zooey Deschanel) tries to figure out her hectic day.

Jess (Zooey Deschanel) tries to figure out her hectic day.

★★★★☆

After last week’s episode which found Jess and Nick finally embarking on a good old roll in the hay we’re now encountered with the morning after. Nick doesn’t quite know how to handle it: does he kiss her awake and try to be romantic, does he simply watch?

Instead he checks her pulse and wakes her. She was being very still.

They could have played this many ways. They could have had one sneaking out of the bedroom, one panicking and running to divulge everything that happened to a friend, or it could have been multiple scenes of awkwardness. Instead it was sweet. The camera lingered on Nick’s decision making, causing it to be an earnest scene that drew a rather accurate picture of many individuals’ morning after routine.

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Sometimes it’s all about figuring it out as it goes along.

Nick has gone to make breakfast for Jess which allows Jake Johnson some funny deliberation scenes on what he should do and what is too much (in this case a daisy).

He’s about to bring it to her until he runs into Jess’s dad, Bob (Rob Reiner returning) who’s in town for Cece’s wedding and in the hallway has to explain away the food he’s prepared and another coincidence occurs as Winston walks out and it’s his birthday. Nick has forgotten but they play it off despite it.

The other couple who wake up together are Elizabeth and Schmidt. Schmidt wants a morning after review of how she liked his new body and she says she liked how his old body was. She doesn’t care about what people think of her at all which is the complete opposite of Schmidt who overcompensates on everything for universal approval. I know there are a lot of people who still want Schmidt and Cece to be together and for some sort of love declaration to come about at Cece’s wedding but I love this new pairing. Rather than exacerbating Schmidt’s quirks, Elizabeth grounds them and shows us the Schmidt that lead to his future self.

Jess meanwhile is warning Nick about telling her dad about their late night shenanigans because her dad gets stupidly over protective.

Even though her daughter is a fully grown adult. I’ll talk about that more in a bit.

Just as things appear to be as uncomfortable as possible, Jess gets a call about a possible teaching position and has to leave, thus leaving Nick alone with the intimidating father.

On the way to her interview Cece calls and Jess tells her she’ll have to be a little later than she thought: if anyone has ever watched a sitcom before they know that this is essentially a set up for disaster.

She calls Winston to pick up Cece’s wedding sari, also not realizing its Winston’s birthday.

Jess gets to the interview and instead of a meeting it’s a substitute position as her first test.

Like I said, time management on sitcoms have a notorious messy outcome and they can either be some of the funnier episodes of the show or be a clear sign of the writers trying a bit too hard to put their characters in whacky situations. Luckily, Zooey Deschanel is so naturally charming to watch that immediately it seems like it will play out as the former.

She’s having a difficult time teaching what appears to be the class from hell as Nick and her dad deal with an uncomfortable situation, as one would assume. Her dad wants to know if he’s dating anyone and Nick, after denying it and shouting a bit, dances around the answer, describing a girl the exact opposite of Jess to try and keep the truth hidden, a girl without bangs and with very small eyes.

Elizabeth meets Schmidt at work and it’s obvious he’s more uncomfortable with her when he has to acknowledge her in his everyday work life, becoming insecure about it now that the night is over.

“I’m not going to let you make me feel bad about myself” she tells him when his nature leads her to leave. I really, really love that her weight isn’t the punch line, but how horrid Schmidt is about it. All too often in movies and television the overweight female character is defined by her weight. Weight is her motivation, it’s her defining characteristic, its why or why not a character will date her and all too often that character won’t get a say in it. But this time she’s the one who’s throwing Schmidt’s feelings and shallowness in his face. She’s okay with herself, she was doing just fine without him and she has a date later that night. Being with someone who’s physically fit isn’t going to give her a purpose or a need to do the same.

Jess meets with a fellow possible employer who asks her to lunch and Jess tries to get out of it because of Cece’s pressing marital concerns but becomes trapped when he uses an analogy about a goat as a metaphor about Jess’s possible employment.

Schmidt goes to drop off Cece’s sari expecting a surprise party and Cece realizes that some of her henna tattoos have ended up on her face. Both are horrified for different reasons.

Nick is bonding with Bob and suggesting he create a podcast until Jess calls and tells him not to talk about girls anymore so nothing gets any worse.

Jess arrives at Cece’s to handle her problem and instead of clearing it away wipes it all over her face.

Nick is talking in code to Bob and admits that he really likes this girl and he’s afraid he’s too much like his old man to deserve her. Nick tells Bob after he gets Bob’s approval of the mystery girl that the girl is in fact Jess.

This goes over poorly and Bob chases Nick out of the room.

Again…how believable is it that Bob would be this over the top irrational about his thirty year-old daughter being in a relationship? It’s the main blight on an otherwise enjoyable episode. It’s an unneccesary gag considering the loopholes such as Jess’s relationship at the beginning of the series?

The positive is that Reiner and Johnson sell the comedy of the scene and the two share a fantastic camaraderie.

Jess is calling the henna tattooist to find out a way to remove the ink from her face and find out that it can’t come off. Cece ignores Jess’s plights for now—including that she slept with Nick—considering her full ink beard.

Jess comes home to a standoff and she’s furious and he tells her that he wants her dad to like him, he wants all dads to like him and in a wonderfully timed, true to character moment, Nick dead pan asks why she thinks that is.

Oh the woes of Daddy issues.

Bob tells Jess that she shouldn’t be with Nick; he’s unemployed, unmotivated and an alcoholic who isn’t good enough for his little girl because while Nick isn’t like his father, he is like Jess’s.

It’s a wonderful scene that plays the line of drama and comedy expertly due to not only the writing but Deschanel and Johnson’s reactions. Deschanel’s face helps spell out a character who is handling too much commotion at the moment and despite it all, has a moment of indignation at her father.

While Johnson plays Nick who has a sobering, unwarranted moment of clarity that maybe, just maybe, everything Bob has just said is true.

Nick’s lack of self-confidence has always been played for laughs but for tonight it hits a bit too close for home. Being unaccomplished is fine until he has someone he truly wants to be better for.

Jess has to return to her class tired and just about over everything. She stands on her desk and in typical Jess fashion gives a speech to the kids about how life kicks you in the ass and how she can’t date her dad but the messy parts are the best parts.

And then a kid offers her a cigarette and that is grade A comedy timing.

Shivrang has come to Cece and promises her he can fix it and it’s a little too short of a scene to constitute anything other than a want for more.

Elizabeth is on her date when Schmidt, in his version of a romantic gesture, meets her there in the oversized sweatshirt she once bought him and asks her to dance. He doesn’t want to leave; he wants to be with her.

Jess comes home to find her dad blowing up an air mattress to guard dog Jess’s door to make sure nothing naughty takes place. He’s her dad and he’ll always worry about her.

She gets a text from Nick and walks out onto the roof where he’s prepared a romantic gesture as well: the breakfast he had initially intended to bring her. Jess wants to know if what her dad said got a little too far under Nick’s skin, but he just shrugs it off despite it being apparent to the audience that it did. But rather than having him give up, instead it only motivates him to try harder, to prove Bob wrong.

Elizabeth and Schmidt show up too and right behind them, Winston, and they lie and say it’s all for him rather than admitting that they had forgotten.

I’ll need someone to I.D. the song playing at the end because it’s the second week in a row where the music of the episode has fit seamlessly into the context of the show, elevating the emotional beats. Deschanel and Johnson share such an insanely palpable and secure chemistry that all it takes is a shared look for the audience to believe that here are two people who should be together. Their moments of silliness are fun and the comedy aspect of them fighting, yelling and being each other’s foils works well in a show sense. but it isn’t until they share a quieter moment, a moment of stillness, that you realize that you truly are rooting for this couple.

They may have dominated an absurd amount of the episode whereas Winston, the character in the actual title, got one or two throwaway scenes, but when they continue to captivate your interest in such an alluring way is there any doubt as to why they would?

This was by no means the best episode the show has had, but it was solid, it was was funny and it was very, very sweet. I wish there had been more Winston considering he’s beginning to feel like a tag along character, I wish the Cece stuff had been better handled and that the teaching position offering had come in a better spaced episode. However, everything to do with the possible couples on the show was handled with such delicacy and such warmth that it almost negated my less than satisfying feelings on the episode as a whole.

Next week is the season finale to an outstanding season two and I for one can’t wait to see what it brings.

In the meantime, I was serious about someone identifying that song.