The gang decides to hold Thanksgiving outside in this weeks episode.

The gang decides to hold Thanksgiving outside in this weeks episode.

People voluntarily go camping in November? Seriously, a camping trip? As the girl who has learned to develop a brisk walking pace from point a. my apartment to point b. Dunkin Donuts to point c. class/work what have you. I don’t understand the willful decision to camp, outdoors, in mid-November. I guess that’s what happens when you live on the east coast opposed from living in the “frigid” 53 degrees fall weather California.

If you detest any bitterness it’s from the three layers I was forced to sleep under last night.

This week Coach has chosen to antagonize Nick for the cute Thanksgiving invite that he got from him and Jess. He says that he’s turning into Jess and losing his sense of identity-that he’s being emasculated by his girlfriend (oh the terror!) and that Coach, recently wounded by his ex-girlfriend, could help him become a man again.

Nick is pretty content with himself and is willing to blow off Coach’s accusations until he stands up and broadcasts the fact that he’s been wearing Jess’s pink sweatpants. Nick can’t argue that away quite as easily.

So, in order to prove his manhood, he tells Jess that he wants to have Thanksgiving outside this year-on a camping trip.

Again I just don’t see how any of that sounds like a fun idea.

Jess agrees after a moment of reluctance, especially when they consider that it can’t possibly be worse than any of the past few year’s celebrations. Cue montage.

So it’s settled, despite some rumbling from the roommates they decide it shouldn’t be too bad of a time, not really thinking too hard on the fact that it is Nick’s plan, their expectations in his hands and he doesn’t exactly have the best track record. Winston tries for one last appeal, saying that home, beer and football all sound pretty manly to him but he’s already lost.

The next day sees everyone plus Cece in the woods, all of them trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do next. Schmidt tries to figure out where to pitch a tent citing his knowledge to the night of research he dedicated to camping. Winston and Cece complain about how they were dragged along, both confessing to have bringing phone chargers so that they won’t be bored out of their minds for more than a few minutes. Jess meanwhile is realizing the extent of attention that goes into Nick Miller planning: he brought a cooler of lukewarm beer and that’s it, having planned to gather and catch all of their own food because: man proof.

Nick breaks them off into groups to get to the food preparation and it goes as well as expected. Coach and Schmidt compete over camping after it’s revealed that Coach was an Eagle Scout when he was younger which aggravates Schmidt who’s already feeling stung after seeing Cece and Coach kissing. The two of them try to outdo each other until, an unfavorable broad comedic moment, Schmidt gets stuck in a bear trap and hurts his arm.

I don’t mind BIG humor, crude humor and so forth but not when it’s a show that typically hasn’t relied on it. New Girl is an intelligent show that’s used its fair share of physical comedy but it’s rarely felt the need to make their characters dumb for their own personal needs. It isn’t believable that Schmidt would think crawling through a bear trap would be a good idea, just like in the next scene I wouldn’t believe that Nick would be stupid enough to dive after a dead fish. I’m making the assumption that they were chalking it up to his desperation but it just makes him seem unintelligent and the audience never wants to be in a position where they’re questioning why Jess would be with him in the first place.

I think it’s a waste of a character to dumb them down all of the sake of comedy: it happened on Boy Meets World with Eric, it happened on Friends with Joey and countless more, I’d rather not see it happen to New Girl too.

On the other side Winston, Cece and Jess have quickly given up on their plight and with the use of their cell phones they figure out that there is a grocery store not too far away. They go and try and buy anything natural that they can but an avocado is hard to explain away, even to this episode’s version of Nick. So they roll what they bought around in the dirt for a while and try to pretend that they found them but the three boys see through their lie quickly and Nick, feeling betrayed, walks away to be alone with his dead fish.

Jess goes to him and tries to figure it out what exactly is the real reason for him being in a bad mood. All she had wanted was to have a nice Thanksgiving with the people she loves and she wants Nick to be happy. His problem is pride based though so he avoids the topic and Jess, trying to tell him that he’s the only man she wants, bites the bullet, so to speak, and takes bite of Nick’s fish to try and boost his confidence.

She learns too late that he had found it dead and floating in the water and that he probably wasn’t going to eat it himself, was using it more than anything as a cover. Jess understandably unhinges a bit and wonders off, at first trying to cough some of it up but soon turning a bit delirious.

Again some wonderful comedic work by Zooey Deschanel who is, oddly enough, often the most under looked and under-appreciated member of the cast despite her consistently delivering funny moments.

Nick rounds up the gang to go and search for her having lost her after turning his back for a second and when they finally spot her, rambling to herself in the woods, it’s too late to warn her of the bear trap she’s about to step in.

And down she goes. Nick, seeing it as a moment to be heroic, dives in after her and Winston voices all of our concerns wondering why on earth he’d jump in head first.

That would never, ever, ever, ever turn out okay.

An incomprehensible Jess and Nick have a conversation down in the bear trap where Nick apologizes for having gotten stuck in his head too much and tells her that despite how they spent the day he enjoys the activities they do together and how even though he’s losing apart of himself in the process he’s enjoying everything that’s new to him because of her. Despite it all she is a positive influence in his life and if that means putting up with snide comments from Coach than it’s worth it.

The gang get’s the two of them up and Jess immediately to a hospital and when she wakes up Nick is there any by her side ready to help. She reassures him one more time, they make a joke about how dangerous her situation just was, and her friends join to make a last minute haphazard dinner of vendor machine food. It’s about a good of a holiday that she could have hoped for.

To reiterate, the humor was a bit over the top for me. It can funny without it being pie in the face and pratfall ridiculous and every joke seemed to follow those guidelines.

As many big laughs as this episode drew from me I can’t get entirely behind the slightly ridiculous driving force behind the storyline: Nick’s need to prove himself a man.

Testosterone! Beards! The wilderness! Men.

It was a contrived way to get our characters into the woods, where shenanigans would take place, things would get turned upside down and all though it worked I’m sure the writers could have come up with a better leading force for Nick’s idea. Especially since all of his planning following it doesn’t match up with the Nick we know, sure, he isn’t the brightest person but he isn’t an idiot-something that this episode made him look like. Pride can be a disastrous thing, and competitiveness can turn us all into jerks but never so much that I’d dive after a dead fish.

It also meant that the side characters took a back seat, getting only slight character bits and reactionary humor to work with and when the whole cast is working together in an episode it’s a great chance to capitalize on their chemistry and have them playing off of each other rather than having everyone playing off of Nick.

After two good episodes in the past two weeks it’s disappointing for the show to take another dive into mediocre sitcom area and it made one more likeable characters on television, Nick, just annoying to watch no matter what Jake Johnson did to try and salvage it.

Let’s see if next week will be a return to old form or if season three will continue to toe the middle of the line of successful episodes.


About The Author

Ally Johnson is a Blast correspondent

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