Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Girl 3.01: "All In"

“Oh my God, pull over! That piñata’s shaped like a monkey!”

“New Girl” is back, y’all! Okay, I’ll admit, it wasn’t the series’ best episode, but it was still oh so good to have my favorite (currently airing) show back. There were some problematic plot elements, sure, but there were good laughs, and that was enough for me for now. I’ll give the creative team a little bit of a chance to ease into the new season and the changed Nick/Jess paradigm before I once again start demanding that they share my brain! Most of the biggest laughs for me came from Nick and Jess moments, although the underlying conflict between them in this episode was a little frustrating. Lamorne Morris also produced a master class in comedic acting, although the performance didn’t really result in any better definition of Winston as a character. He’s still the guy who isn’t one of the original roomies who has a bunch of really crazy quirks.

This episode picks up pretty much right where the last season left off. We find out exactly what happens to Jess and Nick after they drive off together from Cece’s cancelled wedding-that-wasn’t. They drive for a little bit, then they decide that the car could be better used for sex. Once they have that out of their system, Jess and Nick try to go home. They find that they can’t go through the apartment door, though. They’re worried that because it’s going to be hard to be in a new relationship already living together with two other roommates, they’re going to lose each other sooner than they want. Schmidt starts furiously texting Nick about his Cece/Elizabeth indecisiveness, and Nick and Jess suddenly realize that they really, really want to get away for a little while to figure things out. This getting away takes them to Mexico, where we get fun random Jake Johnson line deliveries like the Quote of the Episode above.

Meanwhile, back in LA, things kind of start to fall apart at the loft without Jess and Nick. We already know that Winston and Schmidt get kind of weird around each other when Nick isn’t there to be a sort of buffer, and what happens in this episode takes that dynamic to a whole new level. Winston decides he wants to do a puzzle, and we learn that doing puzzles is yet another of the many things that make Winston a little crazy. Winston sings to himself about doing his puzzle, and he really wants no distractions. I appreciate that Lamorne Morris really went all-in on this bit, taking it to complete whackadoodle status. The height of whackadoodle-ness is when Winston, dressed only in a sweatshirt that he’s wearing as pants, just has the pieces all over the table in a big mess. Some are turned the wrong way, and he’s using an almost to connect two pieces. Schmidt tries to explain the concept of identifying the corner pieces, but Winston just doesn’t get it.

We learn that Nick and Jess have spent several days bumming around in Mexico, and they’ve run out of cash. They briefly contemplate heading back home, but Nick really, really wants to stay put. He’s afraid that if they go back to real life, their relationship will end. Jess seems to have slightly more confidence in their future than Nick does, but not enough to overrule his pessimism. While this immaturity kind of irritates me, I was so happy to see them on my screen again that it didn’t really bother me all that much. The combination of Jess’ twee positivity and Nick’s grumpy old man in his early 30’s bit just makes me smile. Anyway, Nick has an idea about how to extend their time in paradise. He wants to sneak into a nearby resort. The whole resort-sneaking idea works at first until Jess and Nick realize that the resort has security guards checking to make sure everyone on the resort’s beach is actually a paying guest of the resort. Nick scares a kid to get a resort bracelet for Jess, but he doesn’t have time to get one for himself before the guard stops by. Nick tries to run into the surf, claiming he’s in international waters and armed with a shell, but he gets run down by the guards pretty easily. Jess is told that Nick is being taken to jail.

Back in LA, Schmidt’s got himself in quite a conundrum. He’s been told that he needs to choose between Cece and Elizabeth, but he just can’t do it. At first he tries to talk out the problem with Winston, because Nick’s not answering his phone. Because of Winston’s puzzle fixation, though, Winston really isn’t much help. The rather one-sided conversation leaves Schmidt thinking he should break up with Cece and stay with Elizabeth (because they have more history). When he actually goes to break up with Cece, though, he just can’t do it. He can’t break up with Elizabeth, either. So he tries to pull a Three’s Company and date both of them without the other knowing. This becomes a bit of a problem when Cece drops by the loft, and Winston tells her he’s sorry (he thinks Schmidt broke up with her). The situation escalates to the point where Winston and Schmidt have to make up this story about Winston having slept with Elizabeth and being gross wearing her panties. It really wasn’t all that funny.

The wackiness at the loft comes to a halt when Jess comes home to tell the rest of the roomies that Nick is in Mexican jail. The three of them then head back to Mexico to retrieve their friend. Finding Nick is easier said than done, and Schmidt uses all his cash bribing the hotel staff. Jess finally gets the job done when she offers a security guard her car in exchange for information on Nick’s whereabouts. He’s not in “real” Mexican jail after all. He’s just in a room by himself at the resort while they figure out what to do with him. Nick’s not especially happy to be found. He’s still really, really afraid of going home, so he tries to shred his Passport. Just as Jess convinces Nick that they should give their relationship a try in the “real” world, Nick accidentally shreds the Passport anyway. Winston uses his puzzle non-skills to try and piece it back together, and inexplicably, Border Control lets Nick back into the United States. As we end the episode, Jess and Nick are again standing outside the door to the loft, alternating between arguing and kissing, about to reenter their real life.

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