Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Girl 2.21: "First Date"

“I would describe that as the Pledge of Allegiance. Which can be sexual.”

“First Date” was a rather frustrating episode of “New Girl.” I can appreciate that it was the deployment of a rather creative delay tactic to hold off on a Nick and Jess relationship just a little longer, presumably until the season finale. The road blocks are no longer other relationships but their own fears. I guess in a way, this is a welcome change. I was getting tired of the news stories about guest stars with limited episode arcs that were so obviously road blocks. This new paradigm is still really frustrating, though. I’ve been in the awkward land of the pseudodate, and it never worked out well, which I guess is why I find this especially maddening. Here’s a situation that could be resolved positively if Nick and Jess would just be honest and communicate. Instead, they keep backing away.

As we’ve seen in the past few episodes, the awkwardness and unresolved tension between Jess and Nick have been increasing steadily, and things have finally reached something of a breaking point. The breaking point happens to be Nick touching the top of Jess’ boob. Yeah. Those two aren’t exactly sophisticated. Jess consults Cece about what to do next, and Nick consults his quiet older Asian friend, Tran. In what is essentially a conversation with himself (since Tran doesn’t say anything), Nick becomes convinced that asking Jess out on a date would be a good idea. He’s got this whole forceful speech planned, but when he goes to actually ask Jess, she’s in a towel post-shower, and he can’t really form words all that easily. He does manage to ask Jess if she wants to go get some dinner, and thus we dive into the awkward world of the pseudodate. Jess thinks this is just a casual dinner and expects that they’ll be eating from the hot dog cart. Nick, however, is all dressed up and wants to go to a fancy restaurant.

Meanwhile, Schmidt and Winston can sense that something is up. They’re surprised that Nick is getting all spruced up for a date, but he won’t tell them anything about the lucky lady. Eventually, they figure out that this means he must be going out with Jess. They’re worried that a Jess/Nick relationship would disrupt the equilibrium of the loft, so they really want to sabotage the date. There’s a little side thread here where we learn that Nick is the glue that holds the Nick/Winston/Schmidt trio together. Without Nick, there is just silence and awkwardness. Which I’m not entirely sure fits with continuity given Winston and Schmidt’s recent Lionfish adventures, but I guess I’ll go with it for the sake of this episode.

The Schmidt/Winston B story in this episode kind of was an afterthought, really. In order to formulate their plan for sabotage, Schmidt asks Winston to remember his worst date ever so that they can try to recreate it for Nick and Jess. Winston remembers some really, really bad tableside singing, so they decide to recruit a local homeless guy to sing. The homeless guy agrees to sing in exchange for a sandwich, and when Schmidt and Winston bring him up to the loft for payment, the homeless guy goes into their bathroom and won’t come out. He’s eating Schmidt’s expensive product, and Schmidt is freaking out. Winston’s cell phone is dead and the communal loft charger is in the bathroom with the homeless guy, though, so they can’t call for help. Eventually, Schmidt decides to try climbing in through the skylight, and Winston has to break the door down to save him from the homeless guy trying to shave his legs. After that, Winston and Schmidt are best friends independent of Nick. I think the episode would have been funnier had Winston and Schmidt been at all successful in their sabotage attempt. It seems like a good idea that didn’t quite get off the ground.

As predicted, Nick and Jess’ pseudodate is just an awkward mess. They keep asking each other throughout the whole thing if it’s a date, and they keep changing the answer. First when they’re at the restaurant, Jess’ ex Russell and his date make an appearance. This prompts Jess and Nick to decide they just want to go to the bar and drink as friends. There, they talk about their turn-ons and decide they want this to be a date after all. They go back to the restaurant, rather trashed this time, and Russell and his date are still there. Russell mocks Jess and Nick for not really being able to define their relationship. He challenges them to each write on a piece of paper how they feel about the other. When Russell and his date see what Jess and Nick wrote, they get awkward and suggest that maybe the idea wasn’t such a good one. This makes Jess and Nick think that they really are on different pages, and they each refuse to tell the other how they feel. I wonder if they really did write different things, or if Russell was just trying to mess with them because he doesn’t want to see Jess with someone else. Either way, it was kind of frustrating. Through the whole episode, I kept wanting to yell at Nick for just generally being an idiot.

Nick and Jess eventually end up back at the loft, with relationship status still undetermined. At this point, I was still mentally yelling at Nick for being a freaking idiot and not just going for it. Then he gargled a beer, which was one of the things Jess mentioned was a turn-on. Kinda gross, but I was happy that Nick was still trying to make a move. They end up “close talking” good night to each other and that is that. I can’t really see the creative team dragging this out for much longer. We’ve seen multiple road block relationships for both Nick and Jess, and the thing that is keeping them apart at this point is really just their own fear. I’m guessing this will all finally be resolved next month in the season finale. Here’s hoping!

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