Title The Captain
Two-Sentence Summary Schmidt deals with his newly-single status by attempting to break up the very happy Nick and Jess by preying on their differences in expressing their emotions, but his plan proves to be fruitless when it leads to Nick finally opening up about his feelings, especially his feelings for Jess. Meanwhile, Winston tries to find a female cat for Furguson to spend his last night with before he’s fixed.
Favorite Line There were so many gems this week that I have a tie between:
“I have a cat brothel going on in my room, and I’m the only normal person in this loft!” (Winston)
“I’ve never, you know, felt this way or had this with anybody. It’s like there’s been this fog around my life, and with you, all of a sudden, it’s gone.” (Nick)
Episode M.V.P. Each of the Core Four characters had standout moments this week. Schmidt’s explanation of what exactly “The Captain” was while strategically using the blender was some of the funniest material Max Greenfield’s been given in a long time, and he ran with it. Lamorne Morris got to be both the craziest (cat brothel, anyone?) and sanest (“You’re having sex, not inventing it.”) person in the episode. And Zooey Deschanel’s delivery was on fire this week—from her horrified reactions after The Captain was over to her explanation of her sexual awakening to her adorable admission that her month with Nick has been the best month of her life.
For me, though, the real stars of the episode were the people who brought Nick Miller to life in it—writer J. J. Philbin and Jake Johnson. Philbin is my favorite New Girl writer, and I love how much her episodes explore both Nick’s hilarious side (“Fancyman Part 1”) and his deeper layers, especially in terms of how they relate to Jess (“Injured” and “Fluffer”). This episode was written in a way that allowed us to see just how far Nick has come without being overly sentimental or sappy. And the reason the writing came off so well was because of Johnson. His gift for juggling silliness and sincerity was used to its full effect in this episode. There were moments when he had me crying with laughter, moments when he had me crying from happiness, and moments when he made both happen at the same time. Nick’s outpouring of feelings about everything from cellos and rap music to baby zebras and Jess was delivered with such genuine happiness by Johnson and created a real turning point for Nick Miller as a character without making it melodramatic. That scene and the last scene between Nick and Jess in his bedroom were perfect examples of how great writing and truly natural acting can combine to create moments of emotional honesty that still manage to make us laugh—and that’s when New Girl is at its best.
Favorite Moment I love when New Girl blindsides me with a moment of real, human emotion, and that’s exactly what happened at the end of this episode. I thought Jess’s confession to Nick about this being the best month of her life was really sweet, and I thought Deschanel delivered it with a very unforced kind of happiness. But I was completely unprepared for Nick’s response. When he started talking about how he’s never felt this way before (complete with Johnson’s almost painfully earnest facial expressions), I could feel my smile spreading across my face, but as soon as he said there was a fog around his life until he found Jess, I actually started crying. That was such a profound moment for Nick as a character and for the relationship we’ve seen develop between him and Jess. As an audience, we’ve watched Nick struggle through that fog of anger, self-loathing, and apathy—until he took that step to kiss Jess. Now, we’re getting to watch that fog get lifted before our eyes, and every moment—every rare Nick Miller smile, every surprising show of emotion—feels earned. Nick’s openness with Jess in this scene was so important, but it was handled in such a natural way by Johnson. His sincere delivery kept the scene from becoming too sappy even as it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And the way the scene devolved into silliness once again was the perfect reminder that Nick and Jess can make me laugh just as much as they make me say “Awww!”
A New Girl GIF* For My New Girl Feelings
“The Captain” was a fantastic reminder that no character on TV can make me smile like Nick Miller. It’s been such a joy watching this grumpy, borderline alcoholic grow into a man who can tell the woman he cares about just how happy she makes him. Nick Miller smiles are contagious and sure to break through any fog you have around you in your own life, and I feel like spreading the love tonight.
*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.