After last week’s less-than-stellar episode forced me to alter my reviewing format, I am happy to say that this week things are looking like they should again—both here and in the world of New Girl.
Two-Sentence Summary As Halloween approaches, Schmidt continues to spiral deeper and deeper into depression, and Nick and Winston believe the only way to help him is to pretend to be Michael Keaton, whom Schmidt thinks is his advice-giving pen pal. What began as a move born out of desperation by Schmidt’s mother after his parents’ divorce and continued in college with Nick taking over as Keaton ends with Schmidt finally discovering the truth before moving out of the loft.
Nick: You don’t need Keaton; you have me.
Schmidt: What is this, the end of a high school football movie?
(A special honorable mention has to be given to the pure ridiculous perfection of the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Episode M.V.P. I was glad to see that last week’s poor characterizations seemed to be an anomaly, as the main characters were back to the versions we all know and love in “Keaton.” Zooey Deschanel’s Batman voice was hilarious, but even that couldn’t hold a candle to her flawless “Batmanmobile” scene, which I could have watched for at least another minute; her commitment to saying “Batmanmobile” as sincerely as possible was just so good. Max Greenfield was allowed once again to show Schmidt’s vulnerabilities underneath his douchebag façade; I always love the glimpses we get of the “fat Schmidt” still hiding underneath “thin Schmidt’s” muscles. (Although the way he ate that mayo and cheese will forever haunt my dreams.) And after a surprisingly damaging episode for his character in “The Box,” Jake Johnson was back to balancing the silly and sincere sides of Nick Miller that continue to make him such a compelling character.
In terms of pure humor, though, no one in this episode delivered like Lamorne Morris. First of all, I would like to take a moment to celebrate the fact that Winston was successfully integrated into a main storyline and was actually treated like he has some history with Nick and Schmidt! His jokes were even better than usual this week because they had relevance to the plot; his lack of knowledge about The Truman Show had me laughing until I was in tears more than once. And I’m still smiling thinking about his David Letterman costume. The scene where he mistakenly thinks someone is telling him he looks like Letterman was absolutely perfect. For the first time this season, Winston got to be something more than the crazy roommate who occasionally has good ideas but is usually separate from the rest of the characters; he felt like a part of this entire group of friends again, and that was why this episode worked so well.
Favorite Scene As much as I love Nick and Jess as a couple, there are other relationships and dynamics on New Girl that have been underdeveloped this season in favor of playing the romance card. However, “Keaton” took the time to remind viewers that this isn’t just a show about Nick and Jess with occasional appearances by Schmidt and Winston; it’s a show about a group of friends who all have different but important relationships with one another. And one of the most important of these relationships in terms of the show’s history is the one between Nick and Schmidt. This episode put the focus once again on a different kind of love story: the love between two best friends who try to do the right thing for each other but sometimes screw up along the way. The scene between Schmidt and Nick on the curb struck just the right tone for these characters and the show as a whole. When you talk (or write) about it after the fact, it seems ridiculous: Two grown men talking about how one of them pretended to be Michael Keaton in order to give the other advice through his darkest periods of early adulthood. But in the context of the episode, it not only made perfect sense; it made me emotional. This is the Nick Miller I love; the guy whose heart is always in the right place even when he does ridiculous things. And this is the way I like seeing relationships handled on New Girl—with sincerity that somehow never feels saccharine. In fact, when Nick gets too close to a cheesy moment, both characters recognize it immediately and call a spade a spade. New Girl isn’t a high school football movie, but it’s not devoid of emotion either. That’s not an easy line to straddle, but this scene—and the show as a whole—manages to do so with grace and more than a few laughs.
A New Girl GIF* For My New Girl Feelings
This is the perfect GIF to describe “Keaton.” It’s about the strange but ultimately undeniable love between Nick and Schmidt—the original New Girl love story.
*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.