Maybe it’s the fact that I really needed something to shake off my post-Christmas blues. Maybe it’s because we haven’t gotten a new New Girl episode in over a month. Maybe it’s the fact that the series really focused in and gave enough time to each character, providing individually satisfying moments for all five main players. No matter what the reason is, last night’s episode of New Girl, “Clavado En Un Bar” (which is the song played by Kevin-97 near the end of the episode and literally translates to “Stuck in a bar”) worked on pretty much every level for me.
While I may not have been laughing hysterically every single minute (something I find myself doing during most New Girl episodes), “Clavado En Un Bar” made up for its limited laughs with strong character work. The main instigator of this character introspection was Jess and her dilemma over whether to leave her teaching job (which had become a little insane due to the school’s administration) and take a new, higher-paying job at a museum. Thankfully, even though the episode’s initial focus was simply on Jess, New Girl found time to allow everyone moments to shine, specifically Winston, Cece, and Nick.
During much of the show’s first two seasons, Winston Bishop has always been a difficult character for New Girl viewers to pin down, and fortunately, the series has done a great job during the latter part of season two and the first half of season three establishing Winston as the unlucky in love, weird, and wacky roommate. However, with this now fully established personality, the writers really had to consider Winston’s past (his time playing basketball in Latvia) and present (working as a sports radio host) careers and see how they jived with the new personality they now had on their hands.
The answer is that these careers do not really mesh well with this developed Winston, something the character himself recognized during last night’s New Girl, when he saw how all of his life had been pre-planned for him. He was supposed to play basketball, and then, because he played basketball, he became a sports radio personality, but the real question is what does Winston really want to do? By quitting his job at the radio station, both New Girl and Winston are in fascinating new territory where they could go anywhere and do almost anything with the character, as long as they keep the weird wackiness that now makes him so funny.
On a similar note, while New Girl had difficulty finding a place for Winston during its first two seasons, it’s been having more difficulty during this third season at providing a role for Hannah Simone’s Cece that isn’t defined by love interest for Schmidt and Coach or best friend for Jess. Cece’s decision to work at the bar with Nick maybe happens a little too quickly, but it makes logical sense (someone who works part time as a model would financially most likely need another part-time job) and also allows the New Girl writers to more easily integrate Cece’s into the main plot while also giving them the opportunity to provide her with some more definition as a character. Plus, it will probably give us more scenes between Nick and Cece, and I cannot wait to see how the frantic comedy of Jake Johnson plays off of the more relaxed, assured performance of Hannah Simone.
Speaking of Nick, his exchange with Jess near the end of the episode may be one of my favorite New Girl moments ever. Winston, Schmidt, and Coach each discuss how others have heavily influenced who they are or what they are supposed to do with their lives in some way, but Nick Miller, despite being constantly cut off and the butt of almost every joke, is the only person of the group who actually chose the career he loved and seems to be the happiest out of the bunch because of it.
The reveal that Nick not only took the bar but passed it, and then still decided to be bartender because he loved it, was excellent, and the way Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel play that small scene is so earnest and charming, as their chemistry is just off the charts. It’s a big moment for both Jess and Nick. For Jess, it confirms her decision to continue teaching and reassures her that she’s chosen the right guy, a person who might seem childish and immature a lot of the time, but who is also intelligent, responsible, and capable of succeeding when he is doing something he’s passionate about. For Nick, it negates the comments of his shortcomings from Schmidt, Coach, and Winston and shows that although he’s the one pouring beers and serving drinks, Nick Miller is probably the smartest, most well-adjusted guy in the bar.
Jess doesn’t end up taking the museum job, thanks to Cece’s story about how she was Jess’s first student. That flashback was my second favorite scene in the episode behind Nick’s reveal to Jess that he had passed the bar, and I thought the two young actresses playing Cece and Jess nailed the characters’ mannerisms.
We find out that Coach’s real name is Ernie and he was given the nickname “Coach” because of how good he is at coaching. I did like how Nick initially thought to call him “College.”
Loved how this episode was a bottle episode without being a bottle episode, thanks to the flashbacks. It was essentially a companion piece to last year’s flashback-heavy “Virgins.”
I’m usually not a huge fan of “Fat Schmidt,” but Schmidt’s entire flashback, with him as a candy-striper and then working at the Christmas tree farm, had me dying from laughter. I mean, just look at the way he picked up those trees!
“One of the best career choices of the future—driveways.”—Kevin-97 with the world’s greatest advice right there.
I thought this was a great start to 2014 for New Girl, and I’m super excited to see what the show has in store for us for the rest of season three, especially since it will be airing an episode after the Super Bowl in February!
What did everyone else think about last night’s episode of New Girl?
[Photo via Adam Taylor/FOX]