Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Girl 2.20: "Chicago"

“I’m just trying to figure out the level of Elvis impersonator we can afford. I think a white one’s out of reach.”

I really thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of “New Girl.” It had that uniquely “New Girl” mix of humor and heart. The episode dealt with an emotionally heavy subject, but the heaviest moments were cut with the quirky brand of “New Girl” humor. It reminds me of the also Nick-centered more serious episode in season 1, “Injured” in that it really did have that good mix of quirky humor and heart. We also got a bit of a look at how Winston and Schmidt fit into Nick’s life pre-Jess and how Jess can fit in his life going forward. Oh, and there were Elvis impersonations. Which really isn’t a good thing, usually, but Zooey as Elvis was kind of fun. Overall, I just appreciated this examination of Nick as the guy who always took care of his family but can’t seem to take care of himself. Nick discovers that Jess can be the one to take care of him, and I think this is an important step in their relationship.

The roommates are having some goofy fun with balloons (chipmunk voice and such) when Nick gets the bad news. His father the conman has passed away. The rest of the roommates want to be serious and supportive, but it’s difficult when their voices are still in chipmunk mode from the helium, and that is the bit of comedy that cuts the serious of the moment. To keep it from getting too campy, they do all move in to give Nick a big hug. That balance, as I said in the introduction, is pretty well maintained throughout the episode. It’s always a challenge when sitcoms try to handle a serious, emotionally charged subject. HIMYM attempted it last season with the death of Marshall’s dad, trying to find the humor in absurd funeral moments while still acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. HIMYM did fairly well with it, but I think I liked “New Girl’s” take on it even better. It hit a mix of humor and seriousness that was a little more comfortable for me.

So the gang heads out to Chicago to support Nick as he tries to pick up the pieces in his family. His mother, played by the great Margo Martindale (most recently seen as a KGB spy handler on “The Americans”), says that his dad always wanted an Elvis-themed funeral, but she hasn’t really made any of the arrangements to make that happen just yet. Everything is in disarray. To make it even worse, she asks Nick to give the eulogy. Nick has seriously conflicted feelings about his late father, so this was an incredibly big ask. Nick’s first instinct is to get rid of the responsibility, so he tries to get Jess to write the eulogy for him. Jess points out that she only knew Nick’s dad for a few hours, but Nick doesn’t really care. He wants her to write the eulogy anyway. Jess makes a bit of an effort by interviewing some of Nick’s family members (who mostly want to know if she and Nick have had sex yet) before realizing how ridiculous the situation is and demanding that Nick write the eulogy himself.

Meanwhile, Winston and Schmidt are just trying to stay out of the way of the actual mourners. Schmidt is just generally skeeved out by the idea of funerals. Mostly he’s afraid of his own mortality. Winston tries to convince Schmidt that it’s really not so bad. There’s a kind of funny sequence where Winston is pretending to be a dead body so that Schmidt can get acclimated, and it just ends up freaking Schmidt out even more. Schmidt begs Winston not to move at all when pretending to be a dead body, but Winston can’t keep that promise. Before the freak-out, though, Schmidt at least began a decent attempt at eulogizing Winston. That was kind of sweet in a very Schmidt sort of way. He called Winston a “black butterfly.” As you do. By the end of the episode, though, the tables have turned. Winston needs to stall the funeral because Nick and Jess are missing (more about that in a bit), and he ends up having a screaming break-down over the fact that there’s a dead body behind him. Yeah, the funeral was open casket.

Writing the eulogy was just too much responsibility for Nick, so he ends up running off to a bar and getting smashed. In addition to being seriously drunk, he also brings the worst Elvis impersonator ever back to the house for the funeral. Oh, and to top things off, the entirety of his eulogy is “Walt Miller…amirite?” Jess realizes she has to save this situation by truly being there for Nick. She does that by becoming the Elvis impersonator. She puts on the outfit and serenades the church with “In the Ghetto.” While silly, this gives Nick the boost of confidence he needs to get up in front of the church and actually give the eulogy. And the eulogy was pretty great, complete with a comment about how his dad scared cabbies in a cool way. Even Nick’s mom, who definitely didn’t love Jess at first, warms up to her by the end of the service.

The next morning, the roomies are gathered outside Nick’s family home, getting ready to head back to Los Angeles. Nick’s mom gives Jess a bag of cheese puffs for the road, and it appears that Jess has now been accepted into the Miller family. Nick’s mom tells Jess that while Nick has always taken care of them, she’s very happy to see that Nick finally has someone to take care of him. Nick just looks on at his mom and Jess and smiles. I really appreciate how this episode moved Nick and Jess forward in a more concrete way. They’re starting to see how they could potentially fit together emotionally and in life, and that wasn’t something they could really see before.

No comments:

Post a Comment