Grading the Season Finales: New Girl

Title See Ya (1.24)

Major Characters Jess (Zooey Deschanel), Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Winston (Lamorne Morris), Cece (Hannah Simone)

What Happens? Nick wants to leave the apartment he shares with Jess, Schmidt, and Winston to move back in with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Caroline, also known as the woman who turned Nick into “an agoraphobic, turtle-faced borderline alcoholic,” according to Jess. Despite his roommates’ protests, Nick seems determined to move out, leaving the rest of them to interview for a new roommate. They settle on Neil, a self-proclaimed troubadour with his own interesting set of quirks, including a box featuring an unknown animal (“…something growled in that box,” Cece tells Jess).

As the male roommates drive with Nick to his new apartment, they get more than they bargained for when Nick gets cold feet and takes them on an unplanned trip into the desert. In a fit of catastrophic spontaneity, Nick throws his keys into the wilderness, which prompts Schmidt and Winston to call Jess and Cece to take them home (which proves futile after Jess also appears to throw her keys away). The five friends are then forced to spend the night in the desert, listening to mixtapes Nick made in the 1990s. While there, Schmidt and Cece decide to end their relationship because she thinks he doesn’t trust her and he thinks she’s too good to be with him. Nick and Jess also have a moment of their own, with Jess finally giving Nick her blessing to move in with Caroline because she cares about him and wants him to be happy.

In the end, we learn that Jess never really did throw away her keys, and after a night of desert bonding, the friends take Nick to his new apartment. It’s clear, though, that Nick belongs with his former roommates rather than with Caroline, and the episode ends with him returning home to the sounds of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

The Game-Changing Moment I love when Schmidt has moments of complete emotional honesty and genuine kindness in the middle of his ridiculous antics, and his speech to Jess about doing what’s best for the person you care about acted as the catalyst for two big moments in this episode. It led to his “White Fang-ing” of Cece (which was both a genius moment of comedy and a surprisingly touching moment in and of itself) because he believes he’s not good enough for her. The Schmidt/Cece relationship has been a really pleasant surprise in the latter half of this season, and it was interesting to see how this breakup played heartbreakingly straight what has been joked about from the start: Schmidt has some serious self-esteem issues, and I’m intrigued to see Max Greenfield work with this added depth next season (he was, once again, brilliant in this scene).

Schmidt’s speech to Jess also led to her revealing to Nick that she was okay with him leaving because she wants him to be happy. This episode laid some pretty strong groundwork for the almost-certain Nick/Jess romance that is to come, and Jess telling Nick that she’ll be okay because she met him was a really nice moment of forward progress in their friendship/more-than-friendship (especially because that conversation surely contributed to Nick’s decision to return to their apartment at the end).

Finale MVP What I love most about this show is the chemistry between everyone in the cast, so I can’t single out just one MVP. The natural warmth and easy comfort between all of them was brought to the forefront in this episode (especially in the scenes in the desert), and that highlighted just how much of an ensemble show this is. I would never have thought that I would love all of the central characters so much after the pilot episode (which was basically “All Zooey All the Time”), but their interactions with each other are what make this show unique for me, so my Finale MVP is the entire cast and the writers who allow the chemistry to shine.

Most Memorable Line There were plenty to choose from, but I think I’m going to have to go with something from Winston. His fear-of-the-dark-induced panic attack had me on the verge of tears of laughter, but my personal favorite line was: “I’m worried about Schmidt. He’s a Jew in the desert. I don’t want him to wander.”

What Didn’t Work I liked everything about this episode; I just wanted more. The episode felt even more rushed than your average 30-minute sitcom because it tried to cram in too many plots: a new roommate, Schmidt’s self-esteem issues, bonding time in the desert, developments between Jess and Nick, and whether or not Nick was actually going to go through with the move. I understood wanting to work the Schmidt/Cece breakup into the finale because it’s a big moment, but it could have been even more interesting as a plot (and probably will be next season) if it was given more time to resonate with us as viewers. Also, I wanted more roommate interviews or at least more time with Neil. That was an opportunity for great comedy, and it felt almost shoehorned into the episode because so many other things had to happen too.

What Worked Both scenes featuring Nick’s vintage mixtapes showcased everything that is good about this show. The first scene in the desert felt so real; it was like watching a group of 20-something friends hanging out in all of their awkwardly hilarious glory. As someone who is part of a close group of five male and female 20-something friends, I have always admired that this show has a true feel for what members of my generation act and sound like when we hang out with our friends. We’re silly and sentimental, warm and witty, self-deprecating and completely random in our conversations, and this show captures that perfectly.

The last scene of each of the roommates reacting to Nick’s music was pitch-perfect as well. Part of me wishes they would have shown them all dancing together, but I’ve thought about this a lot and decided that I love that they were confined to their own rooms. Seeing Nick, Jess, and Schmidt each do their own “happy dance” made me feel like they were privately celebrating Nick’s homecoming, so it was right to have them react behind closed doors because their reactions would be uninhibited and genuine. It was the perfect way to end the first season of a truly fun show that features some of the most realistic depictions on television of friendship, young adulthood, and the quirks we all carry around with us.

The Burning Questions to Keep Us Guessing All Summer When are Nick and Jess going to become more than just friends? And what is the animal that Neil keeps in that box?

Final Grade B+. This episode had humor, heart, and huge moments for some of my favorite characters. It was a very strong wrap-up to a great freshman season, but I still don’t see it as A-worthy. There have been other New Girl episodes that I liked better than this one (“Wedding,” “Injured,” and “Normal” to be specific), but this episode was still funnier and more realistically heartwarming than a good majority of the sitcoms on TV right now.


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2 thoughts on “Grading the Season Finales: New Girl

  1. I really liked this episode, but like you, I don’t think it was necessarily A-worthy. It was definitely a strong episode and it made me happy to watch, but it was missing something to give it that little extra push to an A.

    I have loved seeing the evolution of Schmidt throughout the season. They’ve added more layers to the initial douchebag image of him in the pilot and it’s made him such an interesting character for me. He does have some very real self-esteem issues, which I think is a lot of the reason that he puts on a big front for the world. He needs to appear like he’s cool and like he has it all together, because he really doesn’t feel like he does at all.

    I also really like the show hasn’t chosen to only portray Jess as the quirky one. Each member of the house has their own issues and their own quirks that make the dynamic between them all work so well together.

    Winston’s line about Schmidt cracked me up, as did everything about the scene with Jess, Nick, and the coyote.

    • Schmidt is such a fascinating character to me in terms of how much he’s grown from the pilot through the end of the first season. I think so much has to do with how talented Max Greenfield is. Once they could see how brilliant he was in the role, I think they decided to give him more to work with, and I’m so happy that they did because he has so many quirks and layers that I love to see more of each week.

      I think my initial problem with the pilot was the fact that it seemed to be about the guys reacting how quirky Jess was and nothing else. The show grew immensely in terms of storytelling once the writers decided to embrace the fact that everyone has strange quirks that come out in front of their friends.

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