I apologize for being a little late posting this—darn you, “real job,” for keeping me from talking about New Girl‘s best episode of the season!
Two-Sentence Summary Jess tries to befriend Coach by feigning interest in the Detroit Pistons, much to the dismay of Bulls-fan Nick. Meanwhile, Schmidt faces new competition at work and Winston entertains the possibility of a new career path.
Favorite Line “Once your screen breaks, your information is in the twitterverse, man. And it’s all out there for everyone to see. All these little monkey elves, man—all these kids.” (Nick)
Episode M.V.P. “Basketball” felt like a Season Two episode of New Girl, and I mean that in the best possible way. It was genuinely funny, surprisingly sexy, and capitalized on the chemistry between Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson better than any other episode so far this season. And, just like in Season Two’s best episodes, “Basketball” knew exactly what to do with Nick. This was Johnson’s best episode of Season Three. He was equal parts gumpy old man (with his disposable camera full of sexy pictures and paranoia about cell phones) and devoted boyfriend (his conversation with Coach about being friends with Jess showed a fantastic understanding of her). He was also equal parts hilariously awkward (his seduction techniques that did nothing but turn him on and waste a bottle of water) and improbably hot (another wonderful reminder of Nick Miller’s expert kissing skills, complete with picking Jess up). Johnson had the episode’s funniest lines (his cell phone rant), but he also carried a lot of the episode’s heart, too. He made me believe how much the Bulls meant to Nick when he told Jess about sharing the passion for that team with his dad. For much of Season Three, I’ve been waiting for this balance between Nick’s more broadly comedic aspects and his role as a genuine romantic lead, and I think it was finally achieved in this episode.
Favorite Scene There were more strong choices for the best scene of the episode than in any other episode so far this season: Nick’s rant against technology (kudos to the editing team for brilliantly cutting from Schmidt talking about old people to Nick sitting down at the table), Nick’s first seduction attempt (Why does he think squats are sexy?), Nick and Jess’s excellent final kiss (which reignited their Season Two passion spectacularly), and Coach bearing his soul to Jess while she was in bed with Nick.
But my favorite moment had to be Nick and Jess’s strange seduction battle outside of his room. It harkened back to some of the show’s classic Nick/Jess battles over who could be weirder while upping the ante by infusing it with a sexual tension that hasn’t existed this season. It was awkward, silly, and strange, but it was also kind of (aka really) hot. When Nick went in to kiss Jess, it was the most attractive he’s been so far this season, and it was all because I could really feel the heat between them again. I’m not one of those people who think getting Nick and Jess together was detrimental to the show, but I will say that I don’t think the show has found a uniform tone for their relationship yet—and that has been detrimental. “Basketball”—and this scene in particular—proved that when Johnson and Deschanel are allowed to really use their chemistry (both comedic and romantic) they’re still dynamite together. This scene reminded me that these two characters are absolutely perfect for each other, and it reminded me what a joy watching them interact can be.
A New Girl GIF* For My New Girl Feelings
Jess, I share your sense of surprised excitement today. “Basketball” was a perfect reminder that New Girl has all the ingredients needed to still be as good now as it was back when it hit its peak last season. It felt confident in its tone and its characters in a way I haven’t seen from an episode in a while, and that makes me feel confident in the show going forward.
*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.