New Girl 3.11 Review: “How do you Know When You’re on the Right Path?”

8 Jan

At the start of the last season of New Girl Jess was made redundant and it put her in a tailspin as teaching was the only thing she ever wanted to do. In “Clavado En Un Bar” she’s set up with another work dilemma as she’s offered a non-teaching job and has a very short amount of time to make a potentially life changing decision. Jess turns to the guys for help by asking them about their own career choices and as with “Virgins” the answers are varied and Winston learns something unsettling that once again destroys his belief system. “Are we all just living inside the mind of a giant?”

NG_311-30thru36_0351The school Jess is working at is pretty much a disaster and this makes this makes her seriously consider the prospect of another career working as a fundraiser for a children’s museum – she has been volunteering but Nick has neglected to tell anyone, nicely worked in there New Girl writers. Giving this thing a time limit of 21 minutes means I will now have So Solid Crew stuck in my head all day and it also gives the whole thing a frantic quality aided by Coach and his stopwatch. It’s a very self contained episode and in doing this it’s further alleviates the disconnected feeling from earlier this season. What this episode is doing is reminding Jess why she wanted to be a teacher in the first place even if her students end up using their maths skills for criminal purposes and the school she is works at is falling apart. The seed is planted for further progression in this line of work as it becomes clear that her organization skills are an asset that could lead to becoming a principal one day.

Cece arrives late in the story and it’s her contribution that allows Jess to go with her gut feeling, or the call from inside the house as Coach might put it and she sticks with teaching. Having Cece suggest that she was actually Jess’ first student could have tipped into total cheese territory, however it is the story of how Cece and Jess became friends and it’s adorable without being saccharine. The flashback shows how young Jess didn’t recoil when Cece mentions her dad has died; not because she is uncaring, but she’s at an age where she can give an honest and non-awkward reaction. The kids playing Cece and Jess are terrific and the instant bond is easy to read, even if they can’t without their glasses on.

Working Cece into the story has been a challenge at times, particularly when they focus on her romantic entanglements and the end of this episode suggests they will explore her professional woes. Cece mentions her age and how her jobs are becoming less glamorous and while I’m not sure the bar tending gig is something they will use beyond this week, they should definitely continue to address what’s next for Cece beyond who she is dating. The Jess/Cece friendship is also something that has been dialed back this season, in the most part due to the Schmidt shenanigans and this has been disappointing. Thankfully they’ve resolved some of the Cece/Schmidt tension and this means she can be a part of the group scenes without it coming across as forced. With the addition of Coach for the rest of the season, Cece needs to be more than just a sometimes character as otherwise it’s just Jess and four dudes.

Winston gets to play a bigger role in this episode as he becomes the cautionary tale when he realizes he’s never made a decision about his own career; he was given a basketball when he was born and his career ended through injury not choice. Winston quits his job as his first major work related decision and it’s time to further explore this “crazy English muffin we call Winston’s life.” This has been the season of Winston’s less than stable side and at this moment he’s switched positions with Nick as the content/wise member of the loft. That’s the thing with New Girl is that at no one time do all of these characters have their shit together and I don’t think I would want to watch the version where they do. Exploring both Cece and Winston further does sound like something I want to see. The same goes for Coach and at the moment he is still on the periphery, even if we now know that his name before Coach was Ernie.

The worthiness of Nick Miller is a topic TV Ate My Wardrobe has addressed on multiple occasions as he’s the one character on New Girl who has the shakiest self-belief. Not so in season 3 and this is the most stable I think he’s ever been. Is it the Jess factor that has made bar tending not seem all that bad? Perhaps, but being a lawyer is not what Nick really wanted to end up as (something about cock fighting and Mexico from season 1). The bar has been used as the ultimate career procrastination for Nick in the past and while he is gently mocked by Schmidt, I’m glad this didn’t turn into a Nick is sad about his life episode. Instead he’s content and this is character progression I’m happy to see. Plus we got to see him looking all preppy in a yellow polo and two more hairstyles in the amazing long list of college looks for Nick. He’s had more wigs than The Americans, ok maybe not quite that many. Like Schmidt, I love the scarf. As for the sports movie debate I haven’t seen A League of Their Own (I know), but I suspect that Jess and Cece are right.

Of course Schmidt had a signed Lance Armstrong yellow Tour de France jersey and it’s one of my favorite visual gags from the episode. Schmidt’s path to marketing comes thanks to following the advice of some terrible people and it’s no surprise that all of his efforts have been motivated by money and women. Like Nick, Schmidt is happy with his chosen profession and yet he does take a trip down memory lane in the tag selling Christmas trees. I can’t be the only one who was hoping to see Winston burning some bridges at the radio station after his description of what went down in this final scene. Will Schmidt progress beyond being fulfilled by things? They’ve touched on his emptiness before and it’s notable that the whiskey word association game in the opening ended with him being mournful about fathers. Is it time to meet Schmidt’s parents?

Progression is important whether it’s through relationships or professional choices and we saw some of this on New Girl this week. Season 3 still hasn’t clicked in the electrifying manner as last year, but this episode is a good start to 2014. Even if Jess’ super short flashback bangs transported me back to being 15 and having my very own DIY bang disaster. Pro Tip – don’t get a friend to cut your bangs when your hair is wet, unless you intend for them to be a centimeter long.

2 Responses to “New Girl 3.11 Review: “How do you Know When You’re on the Right Path?””


  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - January 10, 2014

    […] but I’m easing into 2014 and the Kate Spade nautical inspired look on this week’s New Girl is delightful. The tray of frogs is obscuring the oversized belted midsection that cinches the […]

  2. New Girl 3.19 “Fired Up” Review: Firing Your Friends | TV Ate My Wardrobe - March 12, 2014

    […] is really a follow up to “Clavado En Un Bar” – where it was revealed how everyone ended up in their current jobs – and […]

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