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New Girl 3.23 “Cruise” Review: Dealing with the Weird

7 May

There are certain expectations when it comes to sitcom romance and this is especially true when it starts with such a strong “will they/won’t they” connection. It is hard to subvert this and keep the audience guessing and both the previous New Girl finales concluded in mostly predictable ways; season 1 ended with Nick’s deciding that moving in with Caroline was a bad idea and last year had Nick and Jess finally committing to something together as they drove off to a destination unknown together. With “Cruise” they went in a very different direction as they doubled down on the breakup as they continue to deal with their awkward ex status.

NewGirl-Ep323_TBD-Sc27_0232The cruise location is a fun way to get everyone together in the same place that isn’t the loft and as they’ve done desert and a wedding in the previous finales, they need to up the ante with the location. The first half of the episode has the characters scattered; Coach is mostly absent due to his fear of boats, Winston is doing Winston things, Schmidt’s trying to find the perfect time to approach Cece and Nick and Jess are partaking in the romantic activities they have already paid for. These include yoga with bonus genital breathing, a massage that has the pair revealing how well they know each other and explaining why they broke up (“We were just totally different people” “We just didn’t belong together”) and the best photo shoot I have seen since this Avril Lavigne meet and greet. Their day ends with a lot of wine drinking and what seems like an inevitable reunion is instead a super sloppy attempt at a kiss from Nick.

The boat location also helps show off Zooey Deschanel’s nautical/mod inspired Tommy Hilfiger collection in what I guess counts as product placement and yes I still really want the shirt dress.

It would be easy to have Nick and Jess getting back together or at least sharing a kiss in the season finale and to be honest it’s what I figured was going to happen. Instead what they have done is show how Nick and Jess are wrong about the fundamental reason behind their split as they’re not so different after all. Despite misreading signals and not being able to decide between a handshake, curtsy or a hug – this felt like a callback to “Cooler” when they were debating whether to kiss behind the iron curtain – they are so in tune with each other. During their activities they find the same things funny, are equally as terrible at making towel swans and get the same weird eye thing during their massage prompting a whole lot of high fives. While their attempts at non-sexy sexy poses bum the photographer out, they do a good range of buddy movie stances way better than whatever awkward posing you normally get from this kind of photo shoot (that’s a Buzzfeed listicle I want to see). They both only know starboard, I can guarantee they don’t know what side that is.

This is a weird breakup for multiple reasons and it mostly lies in this “we’re so different” explanation and this finale compounds this further. In fact it is also a good metaphor for the whole season which has tonally and narratively been all over the place. Some might put this down to Nick and Jess being together and for anyone who has been reading these reviews all season, you will know that I don’t adhere to this school of thought. For me, Nick and Jess have been the one consistent good element and it’s how everyone else fits into the story that has been the issue. By breaking them up this could be a way to get a handle on these other elements and they’ve come up with a way to keep everyone in the loft now that we know Coach will be sticking around (Damon Wayans Jr. has been made a regular for season 4) as Schmidt and Nick are returning to their college sleeping arrangement with bunk beds.

When New Girl started Jess was deemed the kooky one; since then every single one of these characters has shown that they are their very own weirdo. Together some of this weirdness is intensified and I’d say this is the case with Nick and Jess as friends, as a couple and as exes. By leaning into this with the scene in the cabin followed by a brief flash of how they look after being locked in their cabin for three days – “I am the queen of Wednesdays” – it highlights what New Girl does best and this is the friendships between the characters with all their quirks. The joke is in the brevity of this moment, but I’d quite happily watch an entire episode of them being stuck in that room together.

Winston has been all about the weird this season and despite feeling untethered and random at times, he’s also been this season’s comedy MVP. This continues in the finale with his glee at the knife fishing he has signed them up to (that might also involve a machine gun) and how he has had nightmares about making out with himself and Nick. Winston gave the push Nick needed in the season 2 finale to pursue Jess rather than drowning his sorrows in booze and he’s instrumental in the plan to get Nick and Jess to address what is going on between them.

Schmidt puts it best as he states “This is really confusing” and the mention of a near kiss has the group asking if they are together or they’re not. Potential new beaus (hunks and ho-bags) are referenced and it’s like they are speaking for the audience as they discuss why living with your ex is plagued with danger. My pro Nick and Jess stance is pretty clear, but I’m also looking forward to seeing how the show is going to navigate their relationship as friends when we return next season. If they had got back together in this finale then it might have made them an even lower stakes couple as the breakup would have only lasted for a few episodes. It is the quandary any writer has about getting a couple together and I do think they maybe regret how quickly they moved forward with Nick and Jess.

NG_323-29_0106There is another “will they/won’t they” and this one I’m a bit more tentative towards as the Cece and Schmidt dynamic has been full of false starts. Season finales can bring characters together as much as breaking them apart and in season 1 Schmidt ‘White Fanged’ Cece into ending it with him and last year he kind of won her back as she ditched her wedding for him (though he also had reunited with Elizabeth, his college girlfriend too). Now Schmidt wants her back, because of course and he stops himself from doing it first thanks to Winston “Grumpy Gussing” him, followed by Cece talking about her relationship with Buster (which we’ve seen very little of on camera). Now it looks like Cece is checking out Schmidt in their newly framed family portrait and the cycle continues.

Season 3 has been awkward and messy, but it’s also been ambitious and I’d rather be watching a show that tries different things and fails to hit the mark sometimes, than one that sticks to safe with the same stories each week. The resolution of this year was definitely a surprise and this is hard to achieve when we’ve become so accustomed to the rules of sitcoms. New Girl might not have hit the heights of season 2, but I’m definitely intrigued as to how they will solve all these unresolved issues come next year.

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One Response to “New Girl 3.23 “Cruise” Review: Dealing with the Weird”

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  1. The Americans Inspired Underwear Range from Costume Designer Jenny Gering | TV Ate My Wardrobe - January 28, 2015

    […] this season. Even Zooey Deschanel had the Tommy Hilfiger dresses she helped design appear on New Girl. The most recent show/brand offering is something of a more intimate nature as The […]

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