New Girl Season 3 Premiere: Going “All In”

18 Sep

Season openers can be a tricky endeavor, particularly when the previous episode has culminated in a highly anticipated union and the momentum has been broken by a summer off. With a show like New Girl a lot of hype has been directed at Nick and Jess and if you were wondering what they’re relationship status is the repeated “all in” gets both the characters and the audience used to the idea that they can be a couple.

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The season premiere starts where we left off; with The Vaccines “I Always Knew” playing as Nick and Jess drove away from the abandoned wedding. After making a roadside stop to consummate the fact that they didn’t call it off, they end up standing at their front door. Neither are ready to cross the threshold as they’ve only been a couple for 30 minutes and their roommates are already being incredibly demanding – ok Schmidt’s is the demanding one, Winston just wants to puzzle. The prospect of returning to normalcy is too much and the pair head off to Mexico to spend some quality time together living out of the back of Jess’ car. We don’t get to see exactly how both of their wedding outfits end up quite as wrecked as they do, but it works better this way. The same can be said for the lack of explanation as to why Winston is wearing a hoodie as pants other than his propensity to get weird.

In Mexico away from the apartment Nick thinks that he can make this relationship work and he’s willing to shred his passport so he doesn’t have to go home and risk losing Jess. This is Nick’s irrational side coming out, the part that thinks he isn’t worthy and he’s more likely to fuck everything up if he lets this side get the better of him. As we have seen with Nick’s previous relationships he’s a fan of the self-sabotage and he doesn’t want this one to go the same way. It’s a different start to dating thanks to their roommate status and this is enough to send Nick into a tailspin of not wanting to leave Paradise Nick and Paradise Jess behind. It doesn’t help that Schmidt and Winston are in full on bickering mode, coupled with Schmidt’s relationship drama and so resort jail is of course far more appealing – they let him watch Ugly Betty after all.

Home is where they have to go and Jess delivers a heartfelt speech; Craigslist gets major props and for once it isn’t sex, drugs or murder related. Jess is the voice of reason on this occasion, not just in relation to Nick but with all of them as she points out that they’re “a family” and how “there is no us without Schmidt and Winston.” It’s a dysfunctional dynamic and the loft situation is going to provide a wealth of stories in the coming weeks. As far as this season opener goes the Jess and Nick stuff plays well, Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel still have oodles of chemistry and because they are together there is a lot of kissing; we know how well they do that.

One issue with this episode is how disjointed it feels and not just because Nick and Jess are in Mexico while Schmidt and Winston are back home. There’s a lot to cram into 22 minutes and at points it seems like certain aspects of the story have been cut out (the promo photos show that in one cut Nick isn’t the only person to get tasered). It’s understandable why these cuts have to be made for time, but on this occasion it was noticeable – maybe as a result of the promotional materials.

First episodes back are meant to refresh the viewer with what has occurred and lay out where things are headed, so it’s not surprising that the momentum the back half of season 2 created gets disrupted. Schmidt still has his decision to make as he tells both Elizabeth and Cece that he has chosen them. Cece is the regular cast member and Merritt Wever will be making her way back to Nurse Jackie soon so this takes some of the tension out of this process. Considering Schmidt’s duplicitous behavior it’s likely that he will end up with neither of them (for now).

Now to Winston and his puzzling; the main puzzle being will he get his own ‘A’ story this season? While I enjoy the lengths they push Winston too with his love of badgers and forgotten birthdays, there comes a time when Lamorne Morris deserves a bigger piece of the New Girl pie. Over at Vulture New Girl creator Liz Meriwether discusses this aspect of his character saying “That’s the level we like, where he’s on some crazy mission for some stupid thing but the stakes are so high for him. To me, that’s just hilarious, and Lamorne is so good at going to those broad places but keeping an emotional reality at the center of it so it doesn’t feel out in space.” While I totally agree with this notion, I hope there is more for him this year and maybe the return of Coach will give him a source of conflict beyond the realization that he is color blind – points to Schmidt for the line of the episode “If you think those shoes are brown, what color do you think you are?”

Winston does take it too far and not just with his jigsaw obsession as a moment where he has to save Schmidt ends with him admitting to wanting Cece’s underwear because he wanted to sew them into his underpants. Cece reacted accordingly. As we saw in “First Date” last season, Schmidt and Winston together creates these ridiculous scenarios and it gives both Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris a chance to unleash their crazy; the argument where they literally argue in circles is absurd but brilliant.

We end the episode back at the front door of apartment 4D, flummoxed as Nick doesn’t carry a key – “there’s always someone at home” – and a mini argument ends in making out. We’re back to where we started and this mini adventure to Mexico might not have been a completely satisfying start to the season, but it’s laid the groundwork and I’m confident that the season will pick up from here. It’s also pretty great to be back with these characters and to no longer be tiptoeing around a “will they/won’t they story.”

One Response to “New Girl Season 3 Premiere: Going “All In””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Girl: Balancing Emotional Stories with the Absurd | TV Ate My Wardrobe - September 25, 2013

    […] is a much more cohesive episode even with the amount that is going on and while the season premiere was a bit of a disappointment I would say that this is more like the New Girl that was raved […]

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