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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A New Girl double-header has a hit and a miss

Illustration for article titled A New Girl double-header has a hit and a miss
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I can’t believe that every single week Erik Adams faithfully reviews New Girl, and the one week I sub, there’s a Furguson episode. You know how much he loves Furguson! Like Schmidt says at the end of this New Girl hour: “It’s funny how life works, man. It’s ironic.”

So any episode featuring Furguson as much as “Helmet” does is bound to be an out-and-out winner. And it is, for a variety of reasons, so let’s get “Jeff Day” out of the way first. Featuring another one of Erik’s favorite things, New Girl aliases, “Jeff Day” involves Jess posing as a man online to get a better deal on a used car, but is really about the simmering resentment between Sam and Nick. One (epic) kiss, two punches: There’s a lot of bad blood there, likely too much to be resolved in an episode with a used-car salesman, in a storyline that appears to be derived from a lost Three’s Company episode. Jess being Jess, she gets her way by taking everyone on the scariest test drive ever, scored by the worst, whiniest Jessica Day rant, the likes of which we’ve seen too many times already. At least Nick and Sam don’t actually make up, but agree to silently feud with each other for all eternity.

Almost as painful is Winston’s new girlfriend, Rhonda, who has found his weakness: pranks. Luckily we already have a valuable history showing how Winston is the worst prankster in the world, so he quickly gets outmatched by getting married for real to someone who immediately gets shipped overseas. Like Cece and Schmidt, I found Rhonda immensely more grating than entertaining, especially someone who would salt a nice bottle of wine like that. And telling that homeless story was just mean. Schmidt and Cece are within full rights not to want such a pesky prankster at their wedding, so why in the world do they apologize about it? And since all these two have been doing is pranking them, why would they first believe that Winston and Rhonda actually got married? The whole situation steers Winston into an unfortunate and annoying plot pothole.

Erik and I are both on board with how great this season has been, even/especially the departure into Megan Fox territory, and how much we liked season four as well. And we agree that the show’s only major misstep so far in season five was last week’s “300 feet.” But the residue from that misstep now spills over into this week as well. There is no way in hell that Sam and Jess should be back together, so he appears to be just an increasingly awkward obstacle for Jess to move on with her life, with Nick or anyone else. And why would Sam want to get back in with someone he has so much history with, who has already let him down a few times, who doesn’t even have the decency boundaries to respect a restraining order? This situation just doesn’t add up enough for Sam’s inclusion here. We can already see the dissolution of this relationship plain as day.

Jess and Sam’s relationship fares much better in “Helmet,” when Jess freaks out after a Nick sex dream. Not only are both parts of “Helmet” infinitely funnier than the two plots of “Jeff Day,” the first episode actually looks worse in comparison.

“Helmet” also touches on the Nick and Jess past, but in a much better, and actually progressive way. Of course, Jess would still have feelings for Nick that would manifest in a sex dream, especially, as Cece points out, as things get more serious with Sam. I love when Hannah Simone becomes a secret ringer, drunk Cece or not, and she definitely serves this purpose in the Nick and Jess scenario, inadvertently revealing who the sex dream was about, and commenting on the ultimate details about the dream. (Also, her hella awkward one-on-one conversation with Sam.) Nick’s belief that dragons are real, and/or dinosaurs, only underlines why he and Jess broke up in the first place. And as unlikely as it seems to get a helmet stuck on Jess’ head for so long, the reason behind it is rather sweet: It’s a child medium, a gift from Nick’s dad when he was a kid. In the end, Nick realizes he has to let go of something he loves to free Jess to be with Sam, which is a pretty nice metaphor for their relationship overall. Jess goes off to meet Sam’s parents, inexplicably leaving a guy who would break a childhood treasure for her.


The Ferguson/Patches Winston/Trip metaphor also works, as Kal Penn hilariously plays a high-powered animal agent. Winston, now stuck a in a prank marriage, eventually appreciates the fact that he’s not a superstar, but has his own individual charms, which are validated even more when Trip reveals how intimidated he is by him. It’s nice to see Winston get the upper hand for once, even though this will inevitably wind up in Winston and Ally finally getting together, yet hampered by his fake marriage. But a Schmidt-Winston partnership, surrounded by cats, is a complete win.

Both these episodes show that Nick and Jess will never really be done, but there are a million different levels between “together’ and “apart” that they could fall into. New Girl is at its best when it’s exploring those different options. Unlike eating bread and not eating bread, there’s a lot of room in between. Any Furguson appearances are just a bonus.


Stray observations

  • I laughed for five full minutes when Furguson walked into the garbage can.
  • “’Sup puss? Ready to show me your hairy little guy?” “What?”
  • Gotta be honest, that Patches video kind of clinched the whole “Helmet” episode for me: “If you’re at the intersection of Grace and Courage, look up! The street sign says Patches.” My favorite cat video since Bunny And Kitty.
  • Also, Schmidt’s followup: “Patches is a trash cat.”
  • “Are we in a turf war? I didn’t even notice, you punk.”
  • I hated that rat story, but Schmdt trying to commiserate by talking about “That snap, that snap!” cracked me up.
  • Also props to Nick’s fake mustache. And this is a spectacular intro: “Lover of meats, enemy of nonsense.”
  • “I’m starving after sex, especially when I’m laying on my back.”
  • Love this delivery from Kal Penn: “He’s a caaaaat.”
  • Thanks to Erik for letting me step in for this double-header; he will return to the New Girl beat next week.