Oh New Girl, how do you win your admirers back after an abrupt holiday hiatus that followed such a lackluster beginning of the season?
Flashbacks. Bitches love flashbacks.
It would be easy to accuse New Girl of plying us with a time-tested gimmick—after all, who doesn't love seeing Schmidt in a fat suit? Even sucky episodes featuring Fat Schmidt are instantly rendered less sucky with his goofy, neurotic presence. We haven't had a new New Girl since before Thanksgiving (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) and I doubt that such a long, unceremonious hiatus paired with a premiere steeped in guaranteed crowd-pleasers was an accident. That was some shrewd planning... and solid writing. Welcome back, New Girl! I missed you!
"Clavado en un Bar" was a fast-paced episode that featured absolutely nothing related to New Girl's more serialized bits, which was great, because the main storyline this season has been pretty hit or miss with Nessy getting occasionally (I DON'T EVEN WANT TO SAY IT) annoying and the fallout from Schmidt's botched love triangle lasting forever and ever and ever. In fact, "Clavado en un Bar" almost achieved bottle episode status, with the majority of the action taking place in Nick's bar and featuring only our main cast as they tried to talk Jess into taking one career path over another as a clock literally ticked down to decision-making time. The result was an episode that managed to avoid distraction and really dig into the meat of who Jess, Schmidt, Winston, Nick, Coach, and Cece are. Every now and then, a show just needs one of those episodes.
And who are they, exactly?
There was never any real question of which job Jess would choose, but the revelation that Cece considers herself to be Jess's first student—and the fact that Cece was the success story Jess chose to cling to when her certainty was shaken—was a nice touch, particularly for bringing Cece back into the fold. I'm still a firm believer that Cece/Schmidt has a place in New Girl's future, but New Girl itself has made it crystal clear that there's no hurry to get back to the status quo with those two. That's fine, but the first half of this season featured an obvious lack of Cece, and even when she was around, she just didn't get to do very much beyond avoiding Schmidt. In short: Aging model/bartender Cece has a lot of potential. While nearly everyone else in "Clavado en un Bar" seemed to find a sort of peace with who they are, Cece's career was essentially rebooted.
Winston also opted for a re-branding by quitting his job once he realized that he's never made a single decision for himself in his life. This will probably backfire for at least the next episode or two, but the current plights of Cece and Winston aren't necessarily negatives. People reinvent themselves all the time, and for a variety of reasons. Starting over doesn't have to be a low point—especially for Winston, who actually had legitimate reasoning for ditching the day job.
Even those who were presented as firmly (and happily) planted in their current careers showed signs of mild discontent. Schmidt has worked his way up the ladder so that he's making spreadsheets instead of shivering his ass off selling Christmas trees to the masses... but it's clear that he's a born salesman who once found delight in getting that random schmuck "into a spruce." Nick ditched the prestige of a law career to tend bar, but he still felt compelled to show Jess that he passed the California bar exam to prove that he didn't quit because he couldn't hack it. Nick loves being a bartender, but doesn't love the negative connotations that go along with it.
The message was clear, and for New Girl, timely: People often reinvent themselves based on priorities, opportunities, and values, but the squishy pink center tends to stay the same, and that's the most important part. In a way, TV shows do the exact same thing. New Girl has done the exact same thing—they even called the Season 2 premiere "Re-Launch," and the New Girl's second season was very different from the show that Fox originally launched. The third season has struggled to reach the bar that was raised so high in Season 2, but now it's a shiny new year full of shiny new potential and at their ooey-gooey cores, New Girl's cast of characters are still the same bunch of weirdos we grew to love, and that's the important part.
– One-liner of the night: Schmidt ruled nearly the entire episode with his declaration that "When I think of teachers, I think of two things: Jessica Day and pornography where the characters are teachers," but then Winston quit his job, and I'm paraphrasing, because most of what made it so great was Lamorne Morris's delivery and the fact that Winston said it, "Things got weird. Things got racial. I used a lot of swear words. Then things got sexual." I mean, it's Winston. Can you imagine? Isn't it amazing?
– LOL @ Nick trying to give career advice. You know what, though? Sometimes the screw-ups give the best advice. Por ejemplo: My BFF called me when her little brother graduated from college and begged me to talk him out of freelancing. She knew that with her bourgeois salaried position, benefits, and actual tangible retirement plan, that he would tell her to go DIAF. MY FAILURE MAKES ME VALUABLE, OKAY?
– Excellent use of "Gangsta's Paradise."
– How do we feel about Bartender Cece?
– And potentially Principal Jess?
– Awww Nick and the tea!
– "I don't volunteer. I'm a man. I have a job. In marketing."
– The debate over A League of Their Own sparked a similar debate in this house: What are your thoughts?
– OMG I love A League of Their Own.
– Sooo "Clavado en un Bar" is a song. About being stuck in a bar. It was at the end of the episode... And it's pretty catchy.
What'd you think of "Clavado en un Bar"? What are your hopes and dreams for the rest of the season?
AIRED ON 5/10/2016
Season 5 : Episode 22