Title First Date
Two-Sentence Summary As Nick and Jess go on their first date (but does Jess really know it’s a date?), Winston and Schmidt enlist the help of Outside Dave to sabotage the romance before it ruins the loft dynamic forever. However, Nick and Jess do a good enough job of sabotaging themselves, especially when Jess’s ex-boyfriend Russell forces them to confront (or not confront) the truth about what their relationship really is.
Favorite Line “Jessica, you are a beautiful woman, and my life has not been the same since I met you. And it would mean the world to me if you would go on a date with me.” (Nick, to Tran)
Episode M.V.P. This week’s episode M.V.P. is a beautiful, intangible little thing called chemistry. There was no one character that stood out above the pack this week. Rather, it was the ease and rapport between the characters that made the episode work. Without sparks—of both comedic and romantic varieties—“First Date” would have fallen flat.
In terms of comedic chemistry, I’m not sure it gets better than Schmidt and Winston trying to come up with ideas to ruin Nick and Jess’s date. Winston’s inability to find a good middle ground for a prank is one of my favorite of his character quirks. Lamorne Morris excels when Winston is being “Prank Sinatra,” and Max Greenfield has such a hilariously deadpan way of shooting down his ideas. I laughed until I wanted to cry when Winston suggested killing Jess with a knife and releasing a bear full of “Hep C” into the restaurant. And I actually did cry tears of laughter when Schmidt and Winston both offered their own guesses as to why Nick was being secretive about his date (“Male escort!”). These two characters have been on fire lately, and they’ve been excelling at quieter moments of friendship, too—mainly because they balance those with sharp humor right away.
Speaking of balance, I’m not sure any pair of actors is better at balancing comedy, angst, and sexual tension than Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson are right now. Their chemistry in this episode was nothing short of extraordinary. It ranged from painfully realistically awkward (Jess asking Nick if they were on a date) and equally realistically easy (sharing their turn-ons) to heartbreaking (agreeing on “middle school dance rules”) and just plain HOT (Nick opening the jar and gargling his beer). Everything worked because Johnson and Deschanel remained true to their characters through it all. So, despite the frustration of watching them get in their own way, you can feel how much they want each other—and you can feel that this new arrangement won’t last very long. That last goodnight by their bedroom doors was filled with more longing and sexual tension than I’ve seen on TV in years. You know two actors have amazing chemistry when you’re literally yelling at the TV for them to kiss, and I will totally admit to doing that on multiple occasions during “First Date.”
Favorite Moment For as much as I adored the rampant sexual tension in the last scene (and the almost uncontrollable hotness of Nick opening the jar), my favorite moment was a little less tense. The best thing about Nick and Jess’s relationship is how real it feels, and it’s never felt more real than when Nick and Jess were sitting at the bar, talking about the weird things the other does that turns them on.
There’s something so genuine about their laughter in this scene; it makes me smile every time I watch it. I love seeing them be honest with each other, and it’s even better when that honesty is a little silly, too. It’s that combination of emotional truth and humor that makes me fall more in love with New Girl every week. And don’t even get me started on Johnson’s face when Jess asks Nick to get dinner. The way his eyes widen just enough as he nervously swallows was beyond perfect. It conveys so much—disbelief, relief, and love all wrapped up in one absolutely gorgeous package. Deschanel’s face is also beautiful in this moment—I’m not sure she’s ever looked prettier.
A New Girl GIF* For My New Girl Feelings
My heart hurts, too, Jess, thanks to you and Nick. But that’s how you know a show is doing something right—when it makes you truly feel something for its characters. The obstacles between Nick and Jess are their own internal obstacles, and that’s a good thing. It adds more realism to their relationship to have them keep getting in their own way because that’s true to the characters—they get in their own way when it comes to almost everything in their lives. They both have so much to lose if this relationship doesn’t work, and they’ve both been hurt so badly in the past. So it makes sense for them to be scared to be completely open to each other and their own feelings. The frustration we feel is the characters’ frustration, too, and that’s why it works so well. And as long as Johnson and Deschanel continue to have such blinding chemistry, we’re going to continue to feel every emotion between them as if we’re going through this right along with them.
*I have no talent for GIF-making. Thankfully, I am highly skilled at searching Tumblr for the best GIFs. I take no credit for this beauty.