Review FOX’s New Girl: “Elaine’s Big Day” (Season 2 Finale)

[Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for this episode and any episodes preceding it]

In regards to last Tuesday’s New Girl, one need only ask two questions straight from the lyrics of a song made for fist pumping to:

  1. Where did you come from?
  2. Where did you go?

“Where did you go?” is an easy one. Television’s summer break has arrived (even though it’s technically still spring), and current seasons of programs across television networks are being capped off, not to return for a few months.

“Where did you come from?” is a tougher question because where does a consistently funny comedy like New Girl originate? Pre-FOX’s Adorkable commercial campaign to entice viewers to tune in last year, pre-all of the complimentary receptions the show received from critics early in the game, I was sold on New Girl because of its leading lady, Zooey Deschanel (500 Days of Summer, the “she” of musical duo She and Him). Zooey did not make New Girl a hit wonder on her own, however. It is an ensemble piece, one that’s laugh-out-loud funny every week* and has a brag-worthy rate of successful jokes, in wording and delivery, because of everyone who takes part in its creation. I came in only knowing a few names attached to the project, but have come out learning them all. With that in mind, the show’s season two finale is no exception to its track record of genius.
 

Nick & Jess are back

Note the pink purse Credited FOX

Note the pink purse
Credited FOX


 
Moments post-calling their relationship, Nick and Jess became an uncalled couple once more, and considering the disappointment that would have persisted during the summer if the “called” status had stayed in place, I feel this was a great move. I also think it wouldn’t have been half as great a finale if Jess hadn’t been the one to make the first apologies and genuine pleas for them to get back together. After all, Nick deserved the confidence booster, considering the tearing down he’d been receiving from others who made  their opinions of him quite clear in that they considered him not good enough for Jess, an eventual saboteur of his relationship with her, etc. [see SIDENOTE].

This backlash occurs while he is trying so hard to step up for this relationship, from suit wearing to purse carrying (and granted, I’m biased because, besides allowing Winston to be in a situation where a badger could be released in the air ducts of his girlfriend’s best friend’s wedding, I have basically thought Nick could do no wrong since season 1’s “Fancyman Part 1,” but I think anyone would agree that the barrage of verbal attacks against Nick’s person are too strong for their intended target). Yet, despite this, Jess, after phase one of  Schmidt and Winston’s scheme to sabotage Cece’s wedding goes off,  refuses to believe Nick wasn’t a participant in the prank. Nick Miller may be said to have made some mistakes, but he’s never been known to lie**. She should have believed him and not jumped the gun by immediately viewing her (false) accusation as a sign that they wouldn’t work as a long term couple. Indeed, what both have to recognize (and Nick is at fault here too, with his low self-confidence and knack for destroying his own happiness) is the basic adage that all relationships can fall apart. All relationships stand on the constant brink of implosion.

Nevertheless, in their case they care about each other, enjoy each other’s company, have lived together (as roommates), played the friends card first so they already know a lot about each other (including factoids that mark a person as close buddy versus casual acquaintance), have come to each other’s aid multiple times, proven to have each other’s backs, share great chemistry, and make each other laugh. They also, it has to be acknowledged, in a creative medium packed with first kiss scenes, stand out for having one of the best, in the game changing episode, “Cooler.” That’s a lot of positive groundwork from which to grow a solid, meaningful relationship off of, and while they will fight, they’ve always bickered. They’ve also always made a habit of apologizing to each other. If they don’t get scared away first, and if they drop the unrealistic belief that if they come across an obstacle, their love is doomed to fail,*** they can pull off this couple thing and pull it off well.

 

* Because there are hilarious comedies, and then there are the ones that force you to verbalize your hysterics. This is one where you verbalize.

** Nick is always considered the half of the couple that stands to be a potential problem. Similar situations have occurred on other shows I’ve loved, with other male halves of couples I’ve loved. Jess Mariano was forever seen as the bad boy to Rory Gilmore’s good girl on Gilmore Girls. Logan Echolls was viewed as the spoiled rich mess for Veronica Mars to clean up after on Veronica Mars. Nick Miller is a money-stretched, well-meaning guy and he still gets branded as the immature bar tender Jessica Day should keep as a friend only. Now, none of these guys are without flaws, yet neither are their leading ladies. The flack simply doesn’t fly at the females equally. The men can do so many kind, thoughtful things, but at the smallest error they are jumped upon (and errors, as human beings, are inevitable). I trust New Girl will correct this present gender disproportion.

*** Exact l- word hasn’t been said yet, but it will happen.

 

~ SIDENOTE ~

Group photo attempt mid-falling apart
Credited FOX

Uncool Jess’ father, played by guest star Rob Reiner, for treating Nick so poorly this episode. Manipulating him out of a group picture when he was being completely cooperative (admittedly, Jess left smiling solo at the end for the photo, daddy’s precious little girl, was hilarious). Disparaging his daughter’s choice of boyfriend in front of Jess, Nick, and their friends. It’s not classy, and while Nick, to his own detriment, was a little too forefront with Mr. Day about how he and Jess hadn’t defined their new relationship yet since sleeping together, he also included in that honesty the importance and care he placed on his real feelings towards Jess. This is a guy who really likes the girl, wants it to work out between them , and, by willingly sharing details one should never share with one’s boyfriend/girlfriend’s father, he , if nothing else, proves his sincerity. Any father has the right to be (over)protective of his daughter and there will always be reasons for parental concern (potentially more so in an only child situation as it is with the Days) but before he passes judgment on Nick he should take into account and recognize for a moment how happy his daughter is, how not terrible a choice Nick is, before planting the seeds of doubt in them that almost derail the relationship before it fully starts. Nick may not offer financial security, he may still be figuring out his life, but he isn’t a jerk, and I would place more worth on the latter, even if money does make the world go round.

 

It’s Schmidt’s Move

Team Elizabeth Credited FOX

Team Elizabeth
Credited FOX


 
I was behind Schmidt reuniting with CeCe back when he “White Fanged” (broke up with) her in the season one finale. I enjoyed when he and Cece’s other ex-boyfriend, Robbie, stalked her on dates. I was deflated by Schmidt’s expression in season two’s, “TinFinity,” when Shivrang proposed to CeCe and she accepted. Meeting his (former) ex-girlfriend Elizabeth while he scrambled to find a plus one for Cece’s wedding has made me reevaluate the situation.

It is not that I no longer enjoy the pairing of Schmidt and CeCe (and I imagine that eventually, despite my change in opinion, she will come out the winner in this affair of the heart) but Elizabeth, who had dated Schmidt in college while he was obese, could care less about what people think of her. She doesn’t change herself for the sake of others, has no inhibitions about society’s opinions of her, and can dance. She is her wonderful self 24/7, and is therefore a wonderful influence on Schmidt who, since his weight loss, cares to the extreme about appearances and giving off a society-defined air of coolness.

This episode leaves Schmidt with a choice. He messes Cece’s wedding up enough for her to have an out to say she doesn’t want to marry Shivrang, but now has to decide between continuing his re-developing relationship with Elizabeth or breaking it off to restart his old one with Cece. His response to this choice is to make a break for it, but he will have to face the women eventually, and I for one hope Elizabeth gets to stick around and am glad the answer was kept up in the air for now. Even as an Elizabeth fan, either choice will produce some disappointment. It would be a shame after all Schmidt’s attempts to win Cece back that she would finally admit he’s the guy for her just to get shot down. It would seem too cruel to drop Elizabeth, who has done nothing wrong and was hesitant about rekindling their romance in the first place, probably because she knew there was a great risk that she’d get hurt (and that thin Schmidt can be a douche, with the running gag of his cash-filled “Douche Jar”). Schmidt recognizes he has tough decision in front of him and that realization was enough for the finale, and allowed Jess and Nick’s triumphant reunion to not get overshadowed by the difficult choice’s outcome.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————
 
 
It’s personal anecdote time: One crappy day this year, I could not cheer myself up. There had been a gradually increasing panic over some since forgotten issue and nothing could distract me from it. Then, while in a Chick-Fil-A takeout line, I started talking about the latest New Girl,  and suddenly I realized I was calming down. It sounds ridiculous, exaggerated, but this happened, and every Tuesday night I couldn’t wait to see and hear the latest misadventures of these marvelously drawn out characters because no matter what had past in my day, everything would appear a little bit brighter after 9:30. With a season finale that included one cliffhanger and one pleasant drive off to the destination of “wherever we came from” by Nick and Jess, I eagerly await the season three premiere, and if I could communicate with my eyes (a skill that, according to Schmidt, he and CeCe possess) mine would be saying, “Thanks, New Girl. Thanks.”
 
 

Did you enjoy Cece’s wedding (before it was permanently called)? What one-liner made you laugh the most? Team CeCe or Team Elizabeth? Pick sides (or run away so you don’t have to answer) in the comments below.