Technically speaking, this was a strong episode of New Girl. It was tightly written, allowed moments for all of the characters to revel in their comedic antics, and it threw a very realistic wrench in the Jess and Nick pairing—one that many could guess would be the eventual problem, but also one the writers had seemed dedicated to ignoring for much of season three.
Jess and Nick have called it quits and it left me feeling very sad—not a feeling I look forward to in my half hour sitcom. Luckily for me Brooklyn Nine-Nine followed shortly to lift my television spirits.
There are two aspects that make the Jess and Nick break up as effective as it was. The first is that it happened in a very true-to-life manner. There was no side flirtations or cheating, neither of them lied to one another, they didn’t say something accidentally insulting. The best part of their fight is that they can’t exactly pinpoint what started the argument—all they know is that it’s happening and now they have to figure it out. In reality when people in relationships have fights it’s typically something stupid that starts them, something like not being able to choose what to watch on Netflix, and then it just snowballs into everything and anything that you don’t agree about.
It actually seemed as if Jess and Nick had a nice little groove going at the start of the episode.
The night prior the gang had played another round of what seems like the most fun as well as most dangerous drinking game around called True American. Jess wakes up to find them all passed out in the same bed, destined for hellacious hangovers. Hours later Jess and Nick wake up in bed alone and discover themselves to be completely unable to function. Their motor skills are messy due to the previous night’s intoxication and when Nick goes to reach for some water he only manages to knock it over and allows Jess to drink the water hanging on his fingertips.
Jess is horrified to realize that the two of them are supposed to be getting ready to go to a one year old’s birthday party—the epitome of hell for some people on a good day and to all on a hungover morning. They get up to start getting ready and that’s when it begins to fall apart.
Both are struggling with getting dressed as Nick all but climbs into his t-shirt and Jess walks out in a bikini top and Jess is emotional when dealing with hangovers, something that is made worse when she realizes that Nick hasn’t set up the toy they bought as the birthday gift, something she asked him to do weeks ago.
Jess is now envisioning a Christmas years away with their kids, sad because Nick hadn’t played Santa and put the gifts together on time. Nick is more perturbed by the idea that Jess has given thought to their future children. Jess is surprised he hasn’t thought about it at all and begins prodding at Nick about his future plans. His plans range from naming his first born a ridiculous name based off of a lost best and becoming a truck driver and driving to space.
Jess’s future plans involve moving back to Portland and getting her kids into good and safe education systems. For a moment it seems like Nick also agrees with the good education bit until he brings it to the extremes and says that his kids are going to beg for school so that they never hate it and always view it as a gift.
This quickly dissolves into a screaming match where the words break up are mentioned and the two are stunned into a silence. Before they could catch up, the disagreement had turned into something much larger. They try for a while to laugh it off, asking what on earth they’d break up for. They get back to building the toy but it isn’t long before things heat up once again because there were words that were spoken that can’t be brushed off.
Nick tells Jess that he doesn’t understand how she can have her life so meticulously planned out that sometimes in life no matter how well you plan, crazy things can come and knock you off your feet and force you to change your plans. Jess doesn’t understand how Nick can’t plan his life at all and just meander about. Jess is angry that Nick didn’t build the toy and he says maybe it’s because he didn’t want to force a toy on a kid that the parents might have wanted to return, that maybe the family would want to build it together.
Jess yells that all she wants is for Nick to take on more responsibility and he in return yells that he wants her to have a little more faith in him to not screw up.
It’s at about this time that they realize a curtain has caught fire due to a dropped lighter and they have to evacuate the building.
The authenticity in the scene is almost too much given how the show has gone out of their way to ignore how Jess and Nick weren’t the most compatible people. Jess and Nick still look like messes—Jess’s raccoon, pillow smudged eyeliner is a tragedy I understand all too well—and both are aggravated because of their ill state and being more honest because of it. It doesn’t take a lot for a fight to snowball but it does take a lot to reign it back in.
Back in the apartment later, Jess and Nick try and have an honest conversation, despite how much it stings. Nick misses his friend and Jess agrees. They miss a time when they didn’t have to try so hard to be people they weren’t to make the other happy. Jess misses when she could be honest with Nick without fearing a fight like the one they just had. They miss how easy it was. On the flipside though, they both love each other, Nick tells her that he loves her more than he has ever loved anyone.
Sadly, Jess asks, what if that’s the only thing the two of them have in common?
There’s been a break in their structure and they decide to split. Nick walks Jess to her room and for a moment is left alone before Jess runs back out and hugs him, mirroring the shot of when they shared their first kiss. She also ran out though because Schmidt is still living in her old room.
And this leads to my second problem: I’ve been thoroughly convinced since they got together that this pairing worked, more often than not because of Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel’s palpable chemistry rather than the writing. I’ve grown attached to the couple despite the pitfalls and to have them wrenched apart after over a season of being told that they work is disheartening. Nick has been written into the man child corner while Jess has become more sensible and if the writers had found a way to equalize the two and lessen the extremities of their personalities they could reconcile the relationship. I hope that this is merely a way to jumpstart the last few episodes of season three, but there was an underscore of finality to the tone of the last few minutes.
There were some B-plots as well that served their purpose but didn’t garner many laughs. The rest of the group is also hungover and stumbling about their day but with less troubling circumstances. The boys encounter the new neighbors, one of which is True Detective’s Alexandra Daddario. However, due to their state of minds aren’t able to make the impression they wish to and instead spend the day plotting on how to get into their good graces. Coach and Schmidt quickly kick Winston out of the plan, thinking he’ll drag them down while instead he actually makes the most traction. He does what the other two refuse to do and offer to help the girls move and in the process learns a lot about them. Of course by the day’s end they all stand on the curb after the fire Jess and Nick started and the girls realize just how weird the three of them are.
Cece is also dealing with the repercussions of her night of drinking as she sees the amount of drunken texts that she sent her new 20-year-old boyfriend. It’s a problem that’s all cleared up by the end and regardless of how well the storyline fit into the episode or not it’s always nice to see Hannah Simone allowed to play up the silliness of her character.
Despite all that goes on it’s undeniably Jess and Nick’s episode and Johnson and Deschanel put in some heartfelt work alongside the physical comedy. I’m sad to see the end of the relationship—temporary or not—and hope this is the jumpstart the show needed. It was a strong episode of New Girl, maybe even one of the strongest the show has had this season. There was a steady build to the concluding break up that left the audience, or me at least, as exhausted as the characters felt.
What are your thoughts on the break up? Is it final or is it going to take the season finale to bring them back together?