Welcome back to my (almost) weekly New Girl recap/review! You can check out my previous coverage here. As usual, there are some spoilers in this week’s review, so read at your own risk.
New Girl has been throwing audiences a bit of a curve ball in its scheduling recently, releasing back-to-back episodes which will continue until the season finale on May 10. Hooray for a full hour of New Girl for the next few weeks! In the meantime, I play catch-up and fill you guys in on the happenings of the loft and the goofballs that live in it.
What’s the least sexy, least romantic thing someone give you? A bouquet of dead flowers? A box of chocolates that’s filled with insects instead of sweet goodness? Those are pretty bad, yes, but they pale in comparison to what Sam, Jess’s ex-beau, gave her: a big ol’ restraining order. After the blowout breakup in episode 13, Jess is legally required to stay 300 feet (and there’s the episode’s title!) away from Sam, which she can’t seem to manage to do. Jess ends up — following a very Jess-like string of events — soaking wet after riding through a car wash in the bed of Sam’s truck while he gives a passionate lip-sync performance of a Selena Gomez song. And then Sam ends up confessing the reasoning behind his “don’t come near me” barricade: he simply didn’t trust himself enough to not call Jess and get back together with her. Admittedly backwards thinking, but not anything I’d put past New Girl. We’ve seen kookier and less logical in the past. I’m not entirely mad at how Jess got back to Sam, I’m just glad she did — he had always seemed her best fit and most promising partner. Fingers crossed it lasts this time around.
In the boys’ corner, Nick and Schmidt engage in some childish antics against a rival bar, the posh Presh run by LA-hipster-adjacent Connie (Busy Phillips). An awkward spaghetti dinner, a fish in an air vent and a heart-to-heart later, and the schoolboy paranoia gets stripped away to make room for real growth at The Griffin, which is apparently the name the bar has had all along. (I know, it surprised me too.)
Jess Day is on the hunt for a new car and devises a not-so-smart plan to obtain one: pretend to be Jeff Day, a “lovable schnook who makes sausage in his spare time” and works for the phone company, so the clearly anti-woman car salesman will cut her a nice deal. This (not surprisingly) gets foiled when she realizes she needs to be present to sign for her sparkly new ride. In come two men in her life that would probably strangle one another if left alone in the same room for longer than ten minutes. As her loyal friend and not-perfect-but-trying roommate, Nick insists he disguise himself as Jess’s male alter ego and close the deal for her. His argument as to why he’s the perfect man for the job is dripping with resentment against Sam, whom Nick undoubtedly still has a personal vendetta. As her second time around boyfriend, Sam comes to her aid as well, donning a Jeff with a G. So Jess, Nick/Jeff and Sam/Geoff go on a wild ride with Billy the Misogynist, leaving Nick and Sam forming an agreement to play nice and Jess with a seriously updated car. Win/win?
The other half of our gang isn’t having much better luck, as Winston and his new partner in possibly literal crime, Rhonda (Sonequa Martin-Green), pull increasingly dangerous and absurd “pranks” on Cece and Schmidt. The married couple-to-be are hesitant around Rhonda, unsure of whether to invite her to their wedding, and for good reason. Rhonda’s hoaxes — which she punctuates with a jabby, “You’ve been Rhonda’d!” — include an all-too-real-looking stab wound, salted wine, a watch battery tucked inside some huevos rancheros, a sham sob story involving pet rats and a FAKE BUT OH-SO REAL WEDDING. Yep. Winston Bishop, our resident “Prank Sinatra,” got married to a somewhat socially inept girl for the laughs. It ends in an attempted annulment and yet another prank pulled by Rhonda, but hopefully the air is cleared and the wine significantly less sodium-packed in the episodes to come.
There are some big steps ahead looking down the path of Jess and Sam’s relationship, starting with the always nerve-wracking, usually disastrous meeting of the parents. Though she admits they are 100 percent, undoubtedly solid and that Nick has no bearing on their relationship this time around, Jess’s brain has declared itself a Nick-loving zone. Literally. Jess has a raunchy sex dream about Nick involving a Chicago Bears football helmet (ding ding ding, another episode title!) that is fit for a child. In an effort to save face and her fragile relationship that’s just beginning to take root, Ms. Day plans to rid her life of all things Nick Miller, including a lacquered bagel with her name written in Sharpie on it, the world’s tiniest hedgehog and a one-turn-away-from-finished Rubik’s Cube. After the infamous helmet ends up in the dirt-caked hands of Outside Dave, Jess is forced to admit her mind’s midnight musings, leaving Nick smug and Sam surprisingly OK with the whole deal when Jess insists the dream had no meaning. (Let’s hope New Girl sticks to its word on that one!) The flip-on-the-head turn happens when Nick reveals the helmet was a gift from his late father and Jess refuses to force him part ways with it. Sam is left dateless at dinner with his parents and Jess is stuck inside with her head stuck in the “child-size medium” token of her titillating dream.
While Jess sits on the couch (unsuccessfully) sipping wine through the Bears helmet, Winston attempts to convince Schmidt (and himself) that he’s completely over his police partner Aly. The boys head to brunch with Aly and her boyfriend Trip (Kal Penn), who, much to Winston’s chagrin, reveals he is an animal actor agent looking to sign a feline friend to star in the next installment of Avatar. This entire subplot is silly and a little self-indulgent, but the guts of it are nice — it sets up the opportunity for Winston to really work through the feelings he has for Aly and establish a relationship with Trip. However he chooses to move forward, I’m sure the audience will be proud of his growth. I know I will.