New Girl Season 2 Finale Review: The Right Call

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New Girl S02E25: "Elaine's Big Day"

As a reluctant Taylor Swift fan, I wasn't nearly as excited as I could have been for her guest spot as Shevrang's bubbly blonde ex, Elaine. The fact that she was theoretically going to be taking up valuable screentime during New Girl's season finale—when we'd all rather be focusing on Jess, Nick, Winston, and Schmidt for the show's last 22 minutes until the fall—didn't do much to raise my enthusiasm. At this point, I should really just stop being surprised when New Girl floats ideas that make me cringe and then executes them beautifully, but T-Swift and the wedding crashers are yet another addition to that list. Her cameo was short and sweet and, most importantly, hilarious as a tongue-in-cheek embodiment of an actual Taylor Swift song.

Gold star, New Girl. Now, back to the characters we actually care about.

Cece actually showed up at her wedding, Schmidt brought Elizabeth as his +1, Nick and Jess made googly eyes at each other despite Jess's dad's continued anti-enthusiasm for their pairing—the reluctant wedding of Cece and Shevrang was off to a good start. Then Schmidt walked in on Cece getting ready for showtime and claimed that she told him she was no longer okay with the wedding... with her eyes.

Well, he wasn't wrong.

However, like so many things the guys of New Girl do, Schmidt's approach might have been a little... wrong. Even Winston, always eager to overkill with regard to prank warfare, was a little apprehensive about Schmidt's plans to derail the nuptials and set Cece free—until Schmidt offered to let things get full-crazy. We haven't seen that kind of joyful light in Winston's eyes in awhile; plus, Schmidt's questionable decision to basically give Winston free reign over their sabotage strategy thrust Winston into a main storyline for once. It was an all-around good call, and I enjoyed watching him get drunker and drunker on the chaos he'd created. Winston doesn't get to cut loose very often but when he does, he embraces the freedom completely.

Less thrilled about Schmidt and Winston's plans was Nick, though his apprehension had less to do with sincerely wanting Cece's wedding to go forward and everything to do with wanting to abide by Jess's wishes that the guys behave. Nick's growth and his newfound sense of responsibility has generally been accepted as a good thing by we the audience, as well as by most of his friends and acquaintances on the show, but for the first time, the motive for Nick's decision to change was called into question—and by Schmidt, of all people.

Maybe it was more of Elizabeth's influence rubbing off on him, but the poster boy for embracing big, sweeping life changes (even if they aren't "you") accused Nick of altering the very fabric of who he is in order to appease Jess. The irony was pretty clear, and as one of those New Girl fans who sincerely believes that Responsible Nick is the real Nick, I spent most of that scene mentally telling Schmitty to STFU. The lack of faith that several of Nick's own closest friends showed him when it came to his maturity and his role in the wedding sabotage was understandable, but still disheartening. When Jess appeared to have caught Nick red-handed with the duct-taped soundboard blasting "Cotton Eyed Joe" and subsequently accused him of ruining Cece's wedding, it really wouldn't've been fair for us to condemn her because she should've known better because she couldn't have known better. Not yet. With Nessy ultimately surviving their sometimes rocky relationship waters this season, even after things looked pretty bleak for a good bit of "Elaine's Big Day," I would guess that fine-tuning the relationship will play a big part of Season 3.

In retrospect, New Girl managed to make Season 2 almost entirely about Nick and Jess getting together without dedicating huge chunks of storytime to their slow crawl toward romantic bliss. Certainly, they were showcased from time to time, but then so were Cece and Schmidt and later, Cece and Shevrang (so maybe we should do something about Winston and Daisy next season, right New Girl?). The overarching plot of the season never felt completely dedicated to one storyline, but rather to one broad idea that encompassed several storylines.

While we all have our own theories and New Girl itself has been slow to confirm or deny any of them in a concrete manner, the question of who the real Nick, Schmidt, Cece, and Jess are hung heavily over even the briefest of stories. Cece was forced to confront her real wants in life when she found out her biological clock was ticking a little faster than everyone else's. Jess's stint as an unemployed, then underemployed, former teacher forced her to reevaluate her professional plans and later, she struggled to rationalize her attraction to Nick. Flashbacks to Fat Schmidt have always been fun, but their real meaning for Schmidt as a character came to light after we met Elizabeth. And Nick feared turning into his father—a point that is still very much in play and with a little prodding from Winston, one that ultimately drove him back to Jess after she hurt him.

Though Nick has received a lot of criticism and judgement for his attempts to become a responsible, productive adult, it was losing Jess's endorsement that sent him back into the familiar arms of pranks and binge drinking. On some level, it probably isn't the healthiest thing to be so tied up in the approval of a single person that to lose that approval incites a spiral of self-destruction, but I don't honestly think that's what New Girl was aiming for here. Jess is Nick's person, and a lot of his motivation to change is because of her, but when all was said and done, it was Winston who talked Nick out of the bottle and back on track and made him realize that he could change for himself as well as for others. Their exchange encapsulated Nick's journey this season in just a few words and it did so without tying it all to his relationship with Jess.

After "calling it" with Jess, Nick retreated to the bar and told badger-battle-scarred Winston, "I'm gonna drink. Cuz that's my move."

As soon as Winston countered with, "You know, that was your dad's move too," the light came on and luckily, Jess was questioning their "break-up" herself. "Elaine's Big Day" ended with Nick and Jess driving off to future adventure, and maybe we could even make the argument that it's a happily ever after situation, but I would expect that the sentiment only applies to the immediate state of Nessy and by no means closes the book on what they are and whether their relationship will survive.

When Nick and Jess were first teased as a possible "real" couple earlier this season, there was some concern that the show's "obvious endgame" had come about too soon. What would the rest of the series look like if the two fated love interests ended up together by the end of the sophomore season? There was no need to move so quickly with New Girl's renewal never really in danger. What if it was the worst thing ever?

The thing is, though, despite being in a de facto relationship for most of this season, Jess and Nick only recently made things even close to official, with the anarchy of Cece's non-wedding finally letting them confirm to themselves that yes, they like-like one another and yes, they both really do want to be with one another, and sure, it could work—but it could still also not work. Season 2 brought Nick and Jess together and Season 3 will have to tackle whether they can remain together. Despite early concerns, now that we've reached the end of the season, I'd say that the pace at which New Girl is sailing the S.S. Nessy is just fine.

Unfortunately for Schmidt, however, successfully derailing Cece's wedding and ultimately doing a huge favor for everyone involved put him in an uncomfortable situation. Elizabeth or Cece? That is the question... and it'll have to wait until the fall. See you then, lovelies!


NOTES

– One–liner of the night: "I'm back where I belong. With Winston and a badger." Aww, Nickypoo.

– For any other series, I'd have a laundry list of wants for the upcoming season—yes, Glee, I'm talking about you—but I'm actually pretty content with where New Girl is right now and don't really see the need to issue demands beyond "more Winston stories." MORE WINSTON STORIES PLZ.

– What do you want to see when New Girl returns?

– Are you happy with the current state of Nick/Jess?

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