New Girl Season 3 Finale Review: Trouble on the High Seas

New Girl S03E23: "Cruise"


"Cruise" is an appropriate title for an episode that essentially "cruised" through the best and worst parts of New Girl's third season, docking lazily in the first available port and leaving us with an acceptable—if somewhat bland—outlook as we head into New Girl''s fourth season in the fall. I had high hopes for the finale in the same way that I had high hopes for the season itself, and I wouldn't exactly say that I'm disappointed with either one, but "Cruise" certainly skirted the boarder of underwhelming, which I guess is a close neighbor of disappointment. In short: I didn't hate "Cruise" and I didn't hate New Girl's third season, but compared to the endless parade of awesome that was Season 2, both the finale and the whole of Season 3 fell short.

In the beginning, the S.S. Nessy was seaworthy and the question was simply, "How long are Nick and Jess allowed to be happy and stable?" Happy and stable are boring, after all, and with no sign of cancellation looming just yet, New Girl needs to milk the drama surrounding it's endgame couple for at least another season or so. Quirky getting-to-know-you antics can only go so far; the truth is, Nick and Jess needed to break up at least once during the course of New Girl's lifespan. 


However, sinking the ship didn't solve all of New Girl's WTF DO WE DO NOW? problems—it merely changed the picture by drawing new ones. Nick and Jess were no less aimless in the aftermath of their break-up, and instead, fell into the tiresome existence of being awkwardly separated: the pining and the lusting and the crying and the sharing friends and being weirdos about it. If New Girl couldn't figure out what to do with Jess and Nick, perhaps it would've been better to focus on some of the other characters for a little while. New Girl is, after all, an ensemble show at heart, and it's often at its best when everyone gets an equal amount of screen time.


Winston has grown exponentially this season, coming into his own as a fully realized character with actual motivations, a personality, and his own fair share of oddball traits that make him fit right in among his roommates. Winston's growth and Lamorne Morris's expanded role was one of—if not THE—strongest aspects of early Season 3. But then the show's focus tapered off. Ferguson came and went at odd times, and Winston's wacky-yet-delightful ladyfriend disappeared. And then Winston was finally admitted to the police academy, only for the show to hit pause on that story.

The Schmidt and Cece stuff was stretched waaaaay beyond its limit, and while Schmidt's maturation was apparent in his willingness to accept Cece as a friend rather than as a lover, at times it seemed sudden—especially during the conclusion of "Cruise," where he (literally) dropped his plan to win her back on the high seas. Also: Let's be honest, Cece and her child bride are so not going to last. Just look at how much non-attention New Girl has devoted to the dude. At least all of Jess's not-Nick boyfriends had some real screen time every now and then. Now, I don't know that an entire season or half-season dedicated to Schmece would have made things any better, but that goes back to the reality of where New Girl's strength lies: not in attention overdrive with the couples, but in a balanced ensemble approach. 


Then there's Coach: Poor Coach. I wasn't so wild about his initial return to full-time roommate status, mostly because the show didn't seem to know what to do with him, but eventually he was better utilized and given the Winston Treatment: a personality of his own, stories of his own, motivations of his own. It was awesome... until it wasn't. Can we talk about how Coach was practically exiled in his stateroom for the entirety of "Cruise?" If that doesn't scream "we don't know what to do with this character," then I don't know what does. And that definitely doesn't bode well, given that New Girl just upped Damon Wayans Jr. to series regular status for Season 4.

"Cruise" itself wasn't without its highlights; Schmidt's rage against nautical puns and the gang's intervention and subsequent three-day tour of their teeny, tiny stateroom brought the lulz. But the latter only serves to emphasize that New Girl needs to retrain its focus on the group dynamics instead spending so much time on the relationship stuff if it truly wants to regain some of the favor it lost during this turbulent third season.



NOTES

– "We did bad things to the tub" —Jess. Such a simple phrase to relay such horrors. 

– I loved how everyone predicted that Nick and Jess would make the cruise weird and awkward. 

– I get that New Girl probably doesn't have the budget to actually film on a cruise ship, but at no point could I even pretend that the setting ever left the port or actually moved. 

– Thoughts on Season 3? What's on your Season 4 wishlist? 


Comments (52)
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Sep 17, 2014
I agree with most of it, but for me the best part of Cruise was Coach. I laughed my lungs out when he got desperate with the lifeguard training. It was hilarious!!
I also think there was no more running from Jess and Nick boredom, they really needed to break up. Eventually they will go back together, just like it happened with Rachel and Ross from Friends and with many others TV Couples who were made for each other but needed to be separated in order to keep the show interesting.
I love the attention they are giving to Winston, too! He is a great character, and super funny! Sometimes his pranks get a little too much, but usually i like his part in others characters lines. Hope they grow Coach's part as much as it happened to Winston.
My least favorite New Girl character is by far Schmidt. He is arrogant and preppy, and also very disgusting when it comes to his relationships with women. I get really bored when the episode is all about him.

Today I'm watching the Season 4 premiere with a lot of expectation! Let's see how things will roll from now on. :)
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May 30, 2014
MaryAnn,
You are right about the ship never leaving port. From a cruise perspective the show got a lot wrong. Check out our review from a cruise perspective.
http://cruiseweb.com/blog/2014/05/what-new-girls-season-finale-got-right-and-wrong-about-cruising/
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May 14, 2014
We have updated our girl Jessica Day's Fashion on New Girl

http://www.tvfashionguide.com/blog/tags/tag/new-girl-season-3-episode-23
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May 14, 2014
How many people can they fit in only one flat!?
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May 08, 2014
On Winston, MaryAnn, I feel your pain that his 'wacky-yet-delightful ladyfriend disappeared' and that he ;was finally admitted to the police academy, only for the show to hit pause on that story', but really, are we watching the same show?

New Girl has always treated Winston like shit, the series' butt-monkey, if you will, and I find it surprising that you would think he's 'grown exponentially this season, coming into his own as a fully realized character with actual motivations, a personality, and his own fair share of oddball traits that make him fit right in among his roommates'. Really?

More like the writers knew the series was becoming overly dramatic early on this season and decided that because they had no idea how to include Winston into these storylines, or give him his own, that they needed to add an extra dose of humour into the show. How to do that? Make Winston an increasingly bizarre and outlandish character who constantly does ridiculous things for no sane reason, usually involving a lot of slapstick comedy. Problem solved, and Winston's character even more ruined than he was before all the others turned into despicable human beings.
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May 08, 2014
Either I'd forgotten or hadn't heard that Damon Wayans Jr. had become a series regular for series four. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I wonder if they'll change the credits?
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May 08, 2014
My thoughts on Season 3? I watch a lot of television, and while I consider myself critical about everything I watch, rarely to I ever bemoan how bad a series is because a. I don't see the point, and b. if I didn't like it I'd stop watching. That's why as many series progresses into their later seasons and fans start to complain about how 'bad' a series has gotten, I often wonder why. Yes, I may be able to see that the quality isn't once what it used to be, but overall when I first started watching, there was something that drew me to it, and whatever that is will keep me there to the end.

What I'm trying to say is that New Girl has been the first ever series that I once enjoyed, but throughout it's third season, grew to really hate. I never loved the series, just found it a suitable ensemble comedy with the occasional off-beat humour that I like. During the first season I fell in love with Schmidt. He was a lovable douche that we'd never seen the likes of before. And during the second season, although seeming impossible, Nick managed to steal the spotlight from him being the relatable slob. The titular New Girl herself, understandably, also provided plenty of humorous moments.

The problem with Season 3, at least in the beginning, was that is systemically seemed to destroy these characters one by one and left me feeling cold. From the second episode 'Nerd' to the sixth episode 'Keaton' the series dealt with Schmidt double-dating Cece and Elizabeth, Jess finding out from Nick and causing a rift between them, Scmidt's subsequent dumping and his blaming it on Jess and Nick and trying to break them up, and the beginning of Jess's many attempts to 'change' Nick.

A lot of people seem to think that Jess and Nick (as with every other series) becoming a couple is what resulted in New Girl's lower quality, and this isn't the case. It was the total removal of any likable or admirable traits in the three lead characters during those period of episodes that did it. With each passing scene I was trying to decide who was more despicable a person, and that's really not something you should be thinking while watching a television series, let alone a comedy.

So for me, after that spate of episodes, it was hard to enjoy the show again, and it's obvious the series hasn't yet found out how to continue with itself yet. Immediately after these episodes was Coach's arrival in episode seven, and after that, while there was some improvement in episodes (I think episode eight 'Menu' is easily my favourite in the film) it seemed to me that the series was spinning its wheels from one special episode ('Thanksgiving III', episode ten) to another ('Prince', episode 14), which ended with the three parter involving the arrival of Jess's sister (episodes 16 to 18).

So yeah, not at all happy with what New Girl has done this season, and I've very lukewarm towards it heading towards the next. I just don't honestly think I can enjoy the series the same way I did before everything happened.
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May 08, 2014
New Girl, like many other comedy shows in the past, has reached a point where the characters become annoying stereotypes and caricatures of themselves which makes it impossible to actually relate to their situations. Seasons 1 and 2 have been slightlty over the top but very funny and realistic to a point. The unrealistic behaviour and motivations of the characters in season 3 made it impossible to care. I was excited when they got Nick and Jess together as it was a bold move but I also expected there was some sort of a plot plan behind it - which doesn't seem to be the case. Also bringing in Coach has ruined the group dynamics and reducing Cece and Schmidt to less than secondary characters upset the balance that worked so well in second season. Winston used to be hilarious and now he is just super creepy and I do not find any of his short scenes funny. The show has been my biggest disappointment this season and I do not think I will be coming back for more
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May 07, 2014
This season was WEIRD. That's the best way I can sum it up. There were some excellent episodes, and there were a whole lot of 'meh' ones, like Cruise. Ultimately I'm sad because New Girl used to be my go-to feelgood comedy, the one that I could always count on to be wacky and fun and drama-free... but then this season happened, and now Trophy Wife and About a Boy fill that space for me.

I think Nick and Jess' entire relationship was rushed and weirdly executed, with too many episodes focused on "wow we're SO different, how are we gonna make this work?"... which I guess is realistic but not necessarily what I want to see on the same show every week. At least Winston and Schmidt were consistently great, and I really love Coach now. He was amazing in last week's episode (not so much in this one but whatever, I'm sure they'll work on that), and I hope they give him and Cece more to do next season.

As for my season 4 wishlist, I expect Nick and Jess to be back together by the end of next season, maybe Schmidt and Cece too. I don't know how long the show will last but maybe they should stop focusing on relationship drama and get back to the crazy friendship adventures that were so brilliant in seasons 1 and 2. That's really all I want from this show: fun and happiness.
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May 07, 2014
I'll say it... this entire season was horribly disappointing. Jess and Nick are now just ridiculous, over-the-top caricatures of their former selves. The writers don't seem to know how to move forward with them post-breakup, but that could also apply in varying degrees to the rest of the cast as well (i.e. Schmidt and CeCe). At this point, I doubt I'll be back as a viewer next season.
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May 07, 2014
Thank you MaryAnn for making me feel not insane. For a second I thought I was the only person who would have been bothered by the fact that they were clearly in port all episode. It was made worse when at night you could still see the dock lighting in the distance.

I kept hoping for a joke to be made about the fact that the cruise was really just a floating hotel. Especially since that kind of thing happens in L.A. and the cost of one of those stays seems much more reasonable for Nick and Jess to have been able to afford.
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May 07, 2014
I hope they give Coach his own footing next season. I felt that he just fluttered about this season. It was obvious the writers weren't sure on what they wanted with him. I hope the next season brings back the tight relationship between Cece and Jess, because I felt their best friend relationship felt flat this season.
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May 07, 2014
I loved New Girl when it started but I reckon I'm over it now. I'm not exactly sure what it had but it doesn't seem to have it anymore...
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May 07, 2014
honestly, I don't understand why we get new girl reviews but nothing on the mindy project (the most under-rated show on tv, in my opinion).
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May 08, 2014
There's sparsely comments on this thread, and it was a season final, imagine what they'd be like on The Mindy Project, a series that gets even lower ratings. I'm not saying it's not good, just that it's lack of being reviewed is justifiable.
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May 07, 2014
The show feels tired to me. Nothing really going any more. It's just killing time until something better comes along.
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May 07, 2014
to start, I never agreed that Nessy needed to break up. So I wasn't happy with that. She could still be the new girl who is learning to be in a relationship with someone she loves and can trust to not break up with her/cheat on her/ dump her. There were still jokes there.
And she was new to being a school vice-principle too.
I was hoping they could be Nessy while the rest of their idiots also went through new stuff.
I agree Winston ended the season strong. The tickling to make Schmidt cough up the ring, and then pointing out the violinist were my favs.
I am really happy that Coach is now going to be a regular for next season. They took too long trying to figure out his dynamic in the group. when he clearly is killing it as a free radical. He can change every episode depending on the topic, he is just gung-ho about everything, whether he wants to be, or believes in it. And seeing him with Kerry and Oscar in what was clearly a heavily improved scene was great. So I am looking forward to more of them.
I wholeheartedly disagree with Maryann about Schmidt though. He matured, sure. And I really want to see him and Nick as roommates again. that will be hilarious. But he didn't mature and let Cece go so she could be happy without him.
He looked at the picture closely (after Winston dimed her out with the Shame finger that she tried to deny) and saw what Winston and anyone else looking at it saw. She just got out of the cabin (where Jess proclaimed herself queen of Winston) and the only thing she was looking at in the picture was Schmidt. And he realized she still loved him. He matured enough to not mock her, because he is now willing to give her time to figure it out, Maryann!!!!!!!!!
And that should be the start of next season.
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May 07, 2014
I think I called it at the start of the season that this would be Winston's year (given that Season 1 was Schmidt's and Season 2 Nick's), and I feel very good about my prediction now!
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May 08, 2014
It was only Winston's year because they literally made every other character the worst.
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May 07, 2014
"I take dumps standing up. I'm a man!"
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May 07, 2014
I still hate that Nick and Jess broke up for basically no reason except that the show wanted to mine funny plots from it. There was no character basis to it; they just went 'let's break up' which mean, now, there's no reason why those two characters wouldn't just get back together. At least Friends earned it.
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May 07, 2014
The entire episode made me want to slap Winston upside the head (if not shoot him in the face), also felt sorry for Schmidt with regards to Cece

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May 07, 2014
Huh. I didn't know until just now that was the season finale.
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Staff
May 07, 2014
Yeah me neither. I mean...wait...shhhhh
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May 07, 2014
Did anyone else notice that this episode was basically a half hour long commercial for Zooey Deschanel's Tommy Hilfiger line?
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May 07, 2014
This is what I get for dressing exclusively in clearance-rack chic. Nice catch!
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May 07, 2014
Not until you said something, but good point!
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May 07, 2014
Sigh...they still do openings (the pre credits thing) well and those are funny. But if AoS insists on going over nine o'clock, honestly I am going to start missing even that portion. I did have to keep reminding myself that this was a season finale, like a winter finale maybe...
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