While other characters appear in last night’s episode of New Girl, “Mars Landing,” there’s no denying that, after the opening’s initial game of True American (It’s finally back!), this is a two-person play between Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson, as Jess and Nick, more hungover than they have ever been before, intensely examine their relationship. The fight that they have (Jess has their whole future planned out, while Nick would rather just live in the moment—he doesn’t worry about the future until it happens) is nothing groundbreaking or new to their relationship, and that’s exactly why it works for a catalyst that eventually causes their inevitable breakup at the end of the episode.
There has really only been one major conflict at the heart of Nick and Jess’s relationship throughout New Girl and it’s the simple fact that they are just too different, too challenging for each other to work. When Jess admits to Nick that all she wants is for them to just stop fighting, citing how exhausting and sad it has all become, we see the culmination of their bickering and butting heads from throughout this season of New Girl. More importantly, however, we see an honest example of how so many real life relationships dissolve; the initial passion for each other disappears and you’re left fighting with someone who used to be one of your best friends to the point where you almost can’t remember how you used to treat each other back when all you were was just friends.
And that’s the emotional centerpiece of “Mars Landing,” a moment so vibrant, honest, and real that New Girl almost had me in tears. After telling each other that they both love each other, Nick and Jess also say how they miss “my friend,” wanting to go back to the simpler days of when the two of them could live their own lives and be themselves while still being able to go to each other if they needed help or advice. Then, just as Nick and Jess begin to walk into their respective rooms, they rush back out and hug each other in a shot-for-shot re-staging of last year’s kiss from “Cooler,” right down to the green and pink colors that Nick and Jess are both wearing.
As a creative choice by the New Girl team, essentially remaking “The Kiss” scene is incredibly effective, as we see a moment that so many of us celebrated and cherished last season turned on its head, the beginning of Nick and Jess’s romantic entanglement now at its end. However, as a character moment, it’s even more successful, as Nick and Jess, understanding the fact that they can no longer kiss each other, that they are no longer dating, still seek a form physical intimacy and connection that only they can provide for each other. It’s their last desperate attempt to reclaim that safety, comfort, and love that they felt in each other’s arms when they first kissed. It’s their last hope that they may be able to regain what they had and start over. And it’s also their broken-hearted acknowledgement that, at least for the time being, the two of them really are over.
- Both subplots tonight are pretty half-baked, although I definitely enjoyed Schmidt, Coach, and Winston’s attempts to impress their new attractive neighbors more than whatever the heck the New Girl writers have Cece doing with dating a 20-year-old (Buster seems like a fine guy but is a total unnecessary character in my opinion). Winston’s speech near the end of the episode was definitely the highlight from both of these storylines for sure.
- New parts of True American that we had not yet seen before: Ellis Island, Schmidt being forced to chug gin, and Nick lapping cognac out of Winston’s hands like he’s Richard Nixon’s dog—“Drink it up, Checkers. Forget what you saw.”
- Nick would have liked to live by a lake with Jess and would have started a newsletter with their son, Reginald, called “Lake Father, Lake Son.” Still in awe of the absolute perfection of that idea.
- Jess tells Nick where she really wants to them raise a family: “We’d live in one of those towns that’s ripe with history, but not so much history that the people are suspicious of newcomers.”
- Schmidt reading over Cece’s drunken texts to Buster: ““You wanna buy a rabbit with him? Do you have a whole Jewel song in here?” Winston, curious, asks, “Is it from ‘Pieces of Me’?”
- “I love you. More than I’ve loved anyone.” “I love you, too. But what if that’s the only thing we have in common?” Man, when New Girl does heartbreak, it really does it well.
What did everyone else think of last night’s New Girl? Did the Nick/Jess breakup surprise you?
[Photo via Ray Mickshaw/FOX]