New Girl "First Date" Review: Buy 1, Get 2 Free

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Apr 05, 2013

New Girl S02E21: "First Date"

Dermot Mulroney returned to New Girl as Russell, Jess's fancyman ex-boyfriend, and upon running into Jess and Nick in the middle of their first date, exclaimed, "Glad to see this is finally happening!" Word, Fancyman, word. Even though Jess and Nick's first official date was more awkward than awesome, the important thing is that it happened; sure, neither Nick nor Jess seemed at all pleased with where they ended up at the end of the night, but tentative first steps were taken and all that. 

Or, you know, fourth steps. After all, Jess and Nick have had their first kiss and their make-out sessions. They did their touchy-feely-supportive-partner thing at Nick's dad's funeral. For all intents and purposes, they fit the definition of a romantic couple in everything but name, a situation that lends itself well to creating the sort of confusion and chaos Schmidt and Winston feared could destroy the good chemistry of the four roommates, and prompted Nick to continue his trend of being a Responsible Adult by asking Jess out on a real date.

Or not. After a smooth (and touching!) rehearsal with Tran (Hi, Tran!), Nick fumbled through the ask with Jess and wound up woefully overdressed for what Jess assumed would be a friendly stop at a sidewalk food cart, not a formal dinner at a total swank-fest. I was okay with overdressed Nick, though. Jake Johnson cleans up fiiiiine. 

Also, LOL at "wearing Schmidt." 

Jess and Nick's first date quickly mutated into three separate outings that seemed to act as a microcosm of their entire relationship this season. Confused about the nature of their dinner, Jess rolled with it. She didn't understand whether it was a date or dinner with a friend, or why Nick was so dressed up—not to mention incapable of accurately communicating his intentions to her—but it worked because what happened at the restaurant was basically the early days of Jess and Nick's relationship on a smaller scale. 

Then Fancyman showed up. To anyone else, it would have been a random encounter with a former romantic interest: mildly uncomfortable, but not necessarily an evening-killer, considering Russell and Jess parted on somewhat amiable terms. It's not like one of them cheated or he was some kind of creepy stalker-ex. They simply realized that they weren't as compatible as they thought and ended the relationship. It sucked and it was sad, but those things happen all the time. 

Still, the blast from Jess's past upset the tentative balance between Jess and Nick and they ditched the fine dining for date number two: drinking at the bar as friends. They were more at ease with one another, firmly back in their respective comfort zones, with the bar stop representing the stability of their relationship prior to The Kiss That Changed Everything in "Cooler." After getting good and drunk on booze and each other's company, Jess and Nick decided to stick it to the past and return to the table they'd fled in order to finish their real live date... which brought them right back to confronting the current state of their relationship... which again, neither of them was adequately prepared to do. 

Cue Russell with an assist, whipping out two pens ("That's the move, right there!") and paper and making Nick and Jess write down in secret what they thought their date meant. His decision to ultimately NOT share their scribbles with the rest of the class raises two possibilities: 

1. Russell was counting on Nick and Jess writing similar answers that confirmed their mushy soulmate status and decided not to risk crushing them with the truth when their beliefs didn't align. 

2. Russell planned to leave them in the dark the entire time in an attempt to force Jess and Nick to communicate honestly with each other—an essential aspect of any healthy and successful relationship and one that Jess and Nick haven't yet managed to master. 

Personally, I'm pulling for door number two just because the idea of Nick and Jess NOT being on the same page is too sad, and between Jess's conversation with Cece and Nick's with Tran, it appears that Nick and Jess DO share the same feelings. They just suck at sharing those feelings with each other. 

Regardless of Russell's intentions, the truth about what Jess and Nick wrote remained elusive, and even though they managed a heart-to-heart of sorts on the sidewalk where they resolved to stop doing the things the other one found arousing—Jess asking Nick for help and Nick gargling his beer—once they got home, they couldn't help but fall back into their old habits. However, rather than act on their feelings, they each went their separate ways, even though it clearly made them both miserable.

While the good ship Nessy (Nick + Jess + messy) got caught in the doldrums, back on dry land, Winston and Schmidt prepared for the eventuality of that ship docking in a safe harbor. Their ploy to destroy Nick and Jess's date in the name of saving the dynamics of the loft eventually came to involve Outside Dave (Steve Agee) after Winston recalled his worst dating experience ever: a tableside serenade by a homeless dude. They bartered a deal where Outside Dave would give Nick and Jess the same treatment in exchange for twenty-five minutes of TV time and a homemade sandwich, but TV time turned into lavatory time and rather than work together to ruin date night, Winston and Schmidt had to work together to get Outside Dave out of their bathroom. 

In addition to worrying about a Jess/Nick relationship ruining their living arrangement, Winston and Schmidt had a much more personal motive for keeping Nick and Jess apart: They didn't think they were capable of being friends with one another without Nick to bring them together. It was a ridiculous notion, even with the flashback evidence to confirm their apparent incompatibility, because we've seen them get along just swell without Nick throughout the series, especially in recent episodes. Even though the moral of the story—that Winston and Schmidt ARE friends with one another and are perfectly capable of surviving without Nick around—was a given from the very beginning, it was still satisfying to see them arrive at that conclusion themselves, especially since Nick and Jess are stuck in a rut at the moment.
 

What did you think of "Date Night"?



NOTES

– One-liner of the night: "Whiskey was a nickel! Whores caked in mud!" —Nick, on the Old West

– Nick: "I have a question about my clothes." Schmidt: "Burn them. Burn them all."

– Among Schmidt and Winston's plans to sabotage Jess and Nick's date, Winston proposed stabbing Jess with a knife and shooting a bear full of Hep-C and setting it free in the restaurant. I like your just-a-touch-too-much style, Winston.

– I wasn't aware that the Pledge of Allegiance could be sexual. You learn something new every day. 

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  • coutterhill Apr 08, 2013

    LOVED the homeless guy serenade! Best parts of the episode.

  • CarolineHylto Apr 06, 2013

    also Winston's horrible ideas

  • CarolineHylto Apr 06, 2013

    Schmidt quote of the night "You can't outrun the jewish"

  • savagetan Apr 06, 2013

    I'm a big fan of the show, but I was very let down this episode. I"m actually surprised so many of your (including the reviewer) liked it so much. All of the Schmidt Winston stuff was forced, unfunny stuff, as if the writers didn't know what to do with them while the important Nick/Jess stuff went on, or the worse possiblility that they're getting so content with their success (well earned although it is), that they figured they'd throw in something that should be funny because it seemed so funny at the table read. The homeless guy singing to Winston was the same way... funny for about half a second, then, just lazy. As goofy as this show gets, it's the moments of drama and credibility that make it as great as it is. The "Chicago" espisode had it in spades and was awesome. Winston and Schmidt realizing Nick was the glue, while a realistic epiphany made in many friendships, was already solved when Winston helped Schmidt realize he had to let CC go in the Lion Fish episode, so this was just painfully silly and unfunny rehashing. And the cop giving Jess and Nick so many jaywalking tickets -- come on... I live in L.A and jaywalking is a ridiculous ticket which cops absurdly deliver and so this was a fine joke, the first two times. I was groaning by the third, let alone the fourth. Lazy!!! Again, realize all that I love the show but am feeling a little jerked around by the creative team... "will they/won't they" is something that can work so long before getting frustrating. I didn't need to see Nick & Jess get together this episode (although I'm rooting for it of course), but it seemed to not happen in a very noncredible we-don't-want-to-give-the-audience-a-resolution-to-this kind of way. So there ya go.

  • hbf716 Apr 06, 2013

    My first thought when Russel pocketed Nick and Jess's answers was - he still has feelings for Jess and didn't like the answers that were written because they admitted liking eachother. Even though I knew Jess and Nick wouldn't be able to talk about their love for eachother it is very weird when they can't talk. They are so connected and they rely on eachother so much that it is just painful to see that piece of the relationship strained. Loved the whole exchange with Tran. He could be in every episode and I would howl every time.

  • tjawatnou Apr 06, 2013

    I also thought Jess and Nick wrote the same answers and wondered why MaryAnn didn't name that as option three.

  • NeeUyank Apr 13, 2013

    the second option is actually that.. she claims that Russell did not share it on purpose so that they could talk to each other honestly, not through cards and Fancyman:)

  • ChanX95 Apr 05, 2013

    Oh wow Nick in a suit should happen more often!

  • Zelli42 Apr 05, 2013

    This was a solid episode, I love the Jess Nick stuff, but somehow it doesn't feel as comfortably funny as the later part of season 1 or the beginning of season two... Can't put my finger on it though. Maybe its Winston... something seems forced

  • cute2thebeut Apr 05, 2013

    Amazing Episode.

  • Dudekotka Apr 05, 2013

    I don't know why, but the weirdness of the homeless man singing to Winston, made me laugh so hard that I almost cried. This episode also changed my view on the Nick/Jess relationship. I like where they are now, I like the awkwardness, and how they handle things. I also liked seeing Russel again, same with Tran.

  • CaitlinRice Apr 05, 2013

    Okay, Winston needs to exist in real life and come be my BFF. That's all I ask. I need someone to make overcomplicated plans with me.

    I have to again state that I love how amazing the writers have been handling the Nick/Jess thing. I've been there before where I have started dating a really good friend, and it is SO freaking awkward that first time you cross that line of going on a date. And I love that the writers didn't ignore this. (And hey, he's now my fiance so there's hope for those two crazy kids yet!)

    I also have to give the writers props for keeping up the continuity of the character traits we've seen over the course of the series. It really does make me feel like the writers genuinely care about the show and the product they are putting out there and knowing that the viewers are intelligent enough to know if they suddenly start writing someone out-of-character.

    I like your option 2. Because that is the epitome of what is wrong with their relationship up to this point. With Jess, I don't think that it's a matter of not wanting to be truthful about it, but I think that she thinks that if she says it first, it gives Nick some kind of pass to continue to not fully own up to what he thinks about things. And Nick just sucks at giving his true feelings on things. Bottom line.

    And gargling beer? THAT seriously turns people on?????????????

  • NeeUyank Apr 13, 2013

    I cannot agree more... we all need Winstons in our lives to be there no matter how ridiculous the plans are and make them even more ridiculous:) he is so lovable:)

  • radiumgirl Apr 05, 2013

    "With Jess, I don't think that it's a matter of not wanting to be truthful about it, but I think that she thinks that if she says it first, it gives Nick some kind of pass to continue to not fully own up to what he thinks about things. And Nick just sucks at giving his true feelings on things. Bottom line."

    Dude. THIS. Nick came SO CLOSE to saying the right thing and I was totally crossing my fingers for him. I really think that if he finally admits his feelings first, Jess will feel free to follow. Even if Jess spilled first, there's no guarantee that Nick would reciprocate because he really is THAT bad at talking about his feelings.

  • CaitlinRice Apr 05, 2013

    Maybe Jess should dress up as Tran. She might get a straight answer then. He seems to be the only person Nick has any ability to tell his feelings to.

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