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

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. 

Comments (63)
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LOVED the homeless guy serenade! Best parts of the episode.
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also Winston's horrible ideas
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Schmidt quote of the night "You can't outrun the jewish"
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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.
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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.
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I also thought Jess and Nick wrote the same answers and wondered why MaryAnn didn't name that as option three.
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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:)
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Oh wow Nick in a suit should happen more often!
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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
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Amazing Episode.
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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.
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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?????????????
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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:)
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"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.
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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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This episode was so damn awesome, I love how they're progressing with each of the characters, it's not forced in any way, but seems really true to each character. Guest stars tonight were too funny, and OH MY GOODNESS HOW COULD YOU NOT MENTION THE SCHMIDT LEG SHAVING SCENE?! COMEDY GOLD.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project
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While I usually hate that two leads HAVE to get together in TV shows, it works here because both Nick and Jess are at the same point in their lives. They both don't want to grow up and face the fact they both aren't where they want to be in their lives but they also don't really know where their lives SHOULD be. That and they pretty much set it up early in the first season they liked each other. It can work. Raising Hope went there and it's worked fine.

I'm surprised Schimdt has become my favorite character. Early on I thought he'd get annoying quick, but letting us know that deep down he's both sweet and insecure made him likeable.
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I totally get what you're saying about Schmidt. If somebody described his character to me without me actually watching the show, I would have told them "He sounds like an unlikeable douchebag."

But between the writers and Max Greenfield's portrayal (I'd actually say 75% of it is Max's portrayal-he's perfect for the role) I've come to love Schmidt. I love all the characters, but he's my favorite and by far makes me laugh the most and I have the softest spot in my heart for him out of all the characters.
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I thought this episode was not as good the last couple episodes they have shown. It was actually pretty weak in my opinion, especially the Nick and Jess date. It was so stupid that they kept getting charged by the police officer for jaywalking. That gag was not funny at all. The subtle product place of the Ford car was not so subtle. The only thing I liked was the Schmidt and Winston bonding over a homeless guy, but other than that, this episode was disappointing considering they have shown really funny episodes so far. I guess every episode can't be good.
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It definitely wasn't the strongest of the episodes dealing with Nick and Jess. I actually think we might be due for another episode that kind of takes a break from the two of them. They've gone as far as they can at the moment, unless the writers wanted to make them an official thing, and I don't think they do. Nor do I want that right now. BUT, if ALMOST becoming official becomes a weekly thing, it's going to get old real fast.

It wasn't horrible, but it definitely wasn't up to the caliber of most of the rest of the season. Hopefully taking a breather to worry about Cece/Schmidt stuff will let Nick/Jess recharge.
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Still, a boatload more subtle than Jess proving to Cece how easy modeling is by posing around a rotating Ford Fusion.

I actually agree that this was a weak episode in a season of very strong episodes. I feel like the characters started and ended in basically the same place.
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I think the whole cop thing was going to be a build up to Russel getting arrested, b/c unlike nick who willingly took the tickets he faught back and was agressive (mainly cuz he wanted to get away from nick and jess) but for some reason it didnt make it into the episode (even though their promo pics and some behind the scenes vids showed it)
Maybe you think it wasnt as good b/c there wasnt rlly a payofff at the end of the episode?
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You know what, that would have made a lot of more sense if they did that. I also thought Russel's appearance in the episode didn't make much sense but if this was their true intention, then it would made sense. I wonder if we'll ever know what Jess and Nick wrote about their date.
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Yeah theres a whole bunch of behind the scenes vids for that part on youtube. It prob would have made the ending of the episode a bit smoother b/c I agree with you the running gag by its self is kind of weak
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Tran is Yoda
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I could watch a full episode of Nick and Tran "talking". I love how Nick reads Tran's mind and judging from Tran's reactions, Nick always gets it right!
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or on the dvd extras of the season the situation gets reversed and Tran reads Nicks mind and completes the conversation
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What was really interesting to me was Russell's date's response, she looked equally as uncomfortable. I have to wonder whether that was scripted or a decision by the actress. Because if it were scripted, and the cards were meant to say that Nick and Jess wrote down the same thing, I would expect the date to have shared a more confused are-you-sure look with Russell instead of the uncomfortable eyes-adverted look she gave.
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Winston's plans are the best. I bet if he talked to Ceces Russian model friends, she's had a date interrupted by a Hep-C infected bear.
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your comment made my day :D
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Thank you for making me spit pop on my keyboard. I needed that laugh today. :)
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I believe I am the only person that hates the whole "two leads need to hook up" thing. Why? Oh why? Do shows almost ALWAYS have to go that way? (Psych is the exception to my lamentation.)
Nick did the above boob thing because standards and practices says it's a big no-no for broadcast television. It's happened in the past but it was a gay man or a straight woman cupping a straight woman's under boob.
I loved Winston and Schmidt together. My favorite was Schmidt's "Burn. Burn them all." The writers are great.
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I loved this episode, even if the beginning felt weird, like everyone was high. Maybe that's just me. Anyway, the date was really funny and precious and Nick looked really good in a suit (and I also loved Jess' clothes but that's not the topic). I didn't necessarily see the point of the joke with the police officer. As for Jess' ex, I think he wasn't expecting Jess and Nick to give the same answer, that's why he went 'oh'. Overall, I enjoyed the episode and I can't wait for the next one.
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Oh, and Winston's answers to Schmidt's suspicions were hilarious. Yes, Nick is a male escort.
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I like that the date was awkward and did not go as either of hem wanted. Don't get me wrong, I really want them to end up, I just do not want their personalities to change to get them together quicker. Also I do not want their relationship to ruin the show. So I am happy with some more awkwardness.
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I agree: Nick and Jess not being awkward or weird with each other would not be true to their character development so far. Bring on the awkwardness!!
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I agree. I don't think the show can afford to hold the status quo much longer though. But considering there's 3 episodes left, I think it's safe to assume the finale will bring them together for good. I don't think they'll "break up" since S1 finale already ended with that (Cece/Schmidt) and the build up was too long to throw it away so quick.
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Oh, I theorized there was a third option, I put myself in Russell's shoes, yes, he and Jess broke up amiably but it was more her decision than his but he understood it. So, on the surface he is fine. Then, watching that whole thing with Nick and Jess the whole night, it likely got to be annoying as anything. So, then they are confronting him on a snide comment he really probably didn't mean to make and just wants to get home. He decides lets just get this out there, these two aren't ready yet (or these two will have the same issues my ex wife and I did) and says fine, lets show you. Then they both hem and haw for a long time (and his stupid valet still didn't show up) and he expected something weird on both of them but they actually ended up writing something very similar and that kind of freaked him out.
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Nick had a bad dig, considering he got $1020 in jaywalking-tickets, spent money on the suit AND dinner and drinks. Not bad for a broke man!

And, we need more Tran!
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Bad day, I can't write.
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Loved this episode! It was funny and REAL not like in all those other shows/movies where the first date is a little awkward but works out in the end. Nick and Jess's date was truly awkward, and it probably reminded us all of an awkward date we had that didn't end as glamorous as we'd hoped haha. This episode showed how two people can be confused about one another, but both too stubborn to admit what they really feel, and Nick and Jess have been struggling with this for a short while. I'm glad the writers are taking their proper time with this because in the end it will be so worth it, unlike other shows (90210,gossip girl etc) where the characters fall in and out of love/have sex/get pregnant/marry each other all in a matter of one episode.
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Fun episode! And hot! The UST in the final scenes was so palpable. Por Dios, qué ganas se tienen esos dos! Sorry, I couldn't have expressed that idea in any other language than my own. And I'm guessing that wasn't the end of their date... and we'll learn what happened after their sweet exchange ("Goodbye, Miller" "Goodbye, Day") in the episode "Virgins".
I'm really enjoying the Winston/Schmidt dynamics these last few episodes. Especially because the writers are finally fully integrating Winston into the loft ecosystem (more often than not, Winston would get a B or C plot slightly related to the A plot and thus slightly related to what his roommates were up to).
I also really appreciate the show's continuity (or consistency?): how Nick sweats when he's nervous/lying; Winston going completely over the top with his pranks/schemes; in "Chicago" Nick's room had gorilla posters and a board full of UFO clippings...
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After Jess' talk with Cece about having to accept that things weren't going to change and then Nick and Jess ending up on the sidewalk where Nick just would not fess up on how he felt I think Jess decided to impose the middle school dance rules even though it didn't make her happy. She realises Nick still can't say what he's feeling so this puts the ball in his court and he'll have to speak up and make the next move.
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i just keep replaying their first kiss over and over. epic!
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I like your option 2. It's sweet. which is why I never would have thought of it. How about 3) their pieces of paper DID match, but it wasn't the answer he thought it should be so he was just disgusted with the both of them and wanted to get as far away as possible.
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Haha, I can see that.
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You know, I'd love it if we somehow eventually find out what they wrote down on those cards. Possibly when the state of Nessie is looking bleaker than a Scottish rainstorm, Nick or Jess (but probably more likely Jess) track down the Fancyman because they MUST know what the other wrote. Then maybe Nick or Jess (but probably more likely Jess) discover that what the other person wrote was the most beautiful and heartwarming thing they've ever read, and it finally breaks down the walls of awkwardness and noncommunication, culminating in dual declarations of unrepentant love....

I think I've been watching too many Rom-Com's.
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I was sure they wrote something completely different but yeah, 2) & 3) are pretty nice and definitely possible.
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Option 1 all the way
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I bet they did match just that he was super upset that they ruined his date with Brandy(?) and was just acting the whole time
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I just really wanna know what Nick and Jess wrote about each other on the papers!
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Me too!
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Hope they at least make things less confusing by the end of the season
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Hope they at least make things less confusing by the end of the season
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I thought it was a good episode but I swear it was missing like five minutes of stuff b/c I saw a lot of promos with Russell getting attacked by the cop. (plus would have liked to have seen more at the end)
And man do I feel sorry for Nick, throughout this season he tries (and in this episode he tried really hard) to impress her and once again she ended up closing the door on him... hopefully things work out by the end of the season.
I did love Winston's really bad prank and him also thinking that Nick was a male escort and that he and Schmidt should stab and kill Jess with that knife in order to stop their relationship (man did he over do it there :P)
Idk bout what was written on those slips of paper b/c it looked like Russell read too different things. But I bet things are going to work out.
Also the whole upper boob thing was prob the most awkward moment in tv. I never even knew that was considered a thing, it just looked so weird.
And yay Tran was back, he has the power to cause soft pretzels to appear! you know if we never saw him interact with the others in the Menzies episode you would think that that guy was in Nicks head
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I don't think Jess "closed the door" on Nick, she openly wanted to go on a date with him, but when she asked whether it was a date he answered rather awkwardly saying "what you thought this was a date the whole time?" lol. I think they're both just super stubborn and awkward and don't want to be the "first" to admit they have feelings because it may ruin the whole roomate dynamic which is understandable.
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I guess I didnt use the best phrase to discribe my thoughts but you are right they are both subborn and it prob doesnt help that Nick keeps chickening out when hes confronted with having to discuss his emotions (that or getting distracted cuz he sees Jess in a towel cuz what he said to Tran was no where close to the actual gibberish he said to Jess)
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Lol so true haha the way he spills his guts to Tran and then can't even form proper sentences around jess is too funny haha
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Is that really a thing? That's not a thing. It can't be.
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It sadly is........................
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is it?? when I first saw it I thought he was feeling her heartbeat or something not feeling her up
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That's why it's the most underrated part of the boobs.
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