New Girl 3.23 “Cruise” Review: Bon Voyage, Nick and Jess

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It’s kind of fitting that the last image of New Girl’s third season would be the whole gang together looking frazzled and crazed. In a way, that picture of Nick, Jess, and company, after they had been stuck in their room on the cruise for over three days, encapsulates this entire season of New Girl:  it tried really hard but was sometimes a little bit of a mess.  I definitely enjoyed season three of New Girl more than most people I know, but that doesn’t mean that the show’s flaws should be ignored just because it still made me laugh more than any other show on TV.

Overall, New Girl’s major problem throughout this season can be pinpointed to something I said during my review of last week’s episode—the loss of focus on these people as, first and foremost, a group of oddball friends. A lot of factors went into the show losing its center. Nick and Jess’s newfound coupledom, Schmidt’s ugly love triangle from the beginning of the season, and the reintegration of Coach into the core cast all played understandable roles in New Girl’s shifting quality throughout season three.

Anytime a series tires to juggle that many different dynamics or miscalculated storylines (see Schmidt trying to date both Cece and Elizabeth, a writing mistake that many fans of New Girl still don’t think the character has come back from) it’s bound to hit some trouble and look for something, anything, to ground itself in. And for New Girl, that anchor was obvious—it had to be Nick and Jess.

There was absolutely nothing more thrilling, fun, and entertaining than watching Nick and Jess’s romantic arc during season two of New Girl, a season of television that I rank among the best I’ve ever seen and one of my personal all-time favorites. When the pair got together in the season two finale, I audibly cheered, because finally we had a series that wasn’t interested in doing the constant back-and-forth, manufactured “will they-won’t they” storyline. However, Nick and Jess being a couple was always going to be a huge risk for New Girl, and even though I frankly enjoyed the two of them together throughout much of season three and didn’t think that the show suffered from any major quality issues directly because of them dating, there’s no denying that the attention of New Girl turned from being a show about a group of friends to being a show primarily about a couple, whose friends were simply afterthoughts.

Through its main storyline of Nick and Jess struggling to regain their friendship as they find themselves forced into different romantic-esque activities, “Cruise” essentially acts as an acknowledgement and an apology for the shortcomings of this season of New Girl. It’s an episode that focuses on all members of the group, from Coach’s fear of boats to Schmidt’s acceptance of Cece’s happiness (even though it’s not with him) to Winston being Winston.

More importantly, “Cruise” also makes it clear that, at least for the time being, New Girl is done with Nick and Jess as a couple. It appears as if the writers are looking at the decision to bring the  two of them together as a failed television experiment, an ambitious effort that yielded mixed results, and that the New Girl team now plans on pressing the reset button in a lot of ways, while now also possessing a rich Nick/Jess history that they can dig into whenever they desire.

As a shipper (and a hopeless romantic), I’ll be honest that I was a little bummed at the “closed chapter” feeling that came from Nick and Jess during “Cruise.” However, I also know that if New Girl hopes to rediscover the heights that it reached back in season two, the series needs to get back to its roots, producing clear and honest glimpses into the kind of love shared between a group of friends rather than the type shared simply between a couple.

Nick and Jess weren’t a wrong turn that New Girl made along its run. No, Nick and Jess were a detour the series decided to take on its longer, more complicated journey, a detour that I hope New Girl, after it’s taken some time to just drive, takes again very soon.

Other thoughts:

– The best sequence throughout “Cruise” is Nick and Jess doing all the romantic package activities together. I especially enjoyed Nick’s reaction to their yoga teacher’s instructions and the numerous different poses they did for the photographer.

– Winston’s weird, creepy, and just play ridiculous walk out of Schmidt’s room was another highlight from this episode. “You are so weird. Can you ever just leave the room like a normal person?”

– Schmidt would never want to go on a cruise with me. I’m a big fan of nautical puns.

– Schmidt also really knows what to say to get people to open up: “Open your cellar doors and let us taste your jams.”

– Winston only knows one appropriate comparison fitting the horror of Nick and Jess not being friends: “That’s like the president and the vice president not being best friends.”

– And with that, season three of New Girl is in the books. This season really seemed to fly by, didn’t it? I just want to say thank you to anyone and everyone who comes on the site to read and comment on these reviews. New Girl is one of my favorite shows on TV, and I love having the chance to write about it and share my opinions with all of you. Hopefully, I’ll see you all back here for season four in the fall!

What did everyone else think of last night’s New Girl finale? How did you feel about season three as a whole? 

[Photo via FOX]

Chris is the Managing Editor of TVOvermind. A graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he majored in English and Film, he has been writing for TVOvermind for over two years and has written about several different television shows, such as New Girl, Breaking Bad, Glee, and Homeland. Contact him through Twitter (@ckinger13) or email (chris@tvovermind.com).
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