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New Girl S03E21: "Big News"

"So what do we do now?" Nick's open wonder at what the future holds for himself and Jess now that they're no longer NickandJess not only managed to sum up our first look at a post-Nessy world, it bestowed upon us a mission that could only be accepted: to answer the question, where do we go from here? We have to go somewhere. Part of me suspects that Nessy had to sink because, after a year of tackling every conceivable relationship hurdle short of an unplanned pregnancy (DON'T DO IT, NEW GIRL), the unexplored territory in Nick and Jess's relationship had grown a bit barren. It's not that New Girl didn't have options for the couple, but the big ones—babies, weddings, and awkward vacations with the in-laws—just aren't something the writers are prepared to address with those two. The show covered kissing and the L word and shacking up. It went as far as it could as of this time, and to simply leave Nick and Jess to stagnate until the writers felt ready to go there would have been a disservice to the characters, New Girl's cast, and the audience. New Girl isn't the Nick and Jess show. Its best episodes are the ones that make full use of its varied ensemble. 

So what does a post-Nessy world look like? 

All things considered, it looks just fine. 

Perhaps as a testament to their secret maturity, Jess and Nick have carried on and made the best of their newly awkward living arrangements. "Boob season" is over for Nick, and Jess is sleeping on the floor. So, rather than overshadow Winston's big police academy news with their own big-but-way-less-awesome announcement, Nick and Jess decided to keep their mouths shut and totally pretend they hadn't broken up. It was a selfless move, but the thing about selfless moves, especially on television, is that they always tend to have a downside. For Nick and Jess, keeping news of their split to themselves meant they only had each other to turn to for support, and it's hard—maybe even impossible—to switch so quickly from romantic mode to BFF mode. Sure, Jess and Nick broke up very amicably, but they still broke up. There was enough dysfunction in their relationship that they chose to separate, to reestablish some boundaries. And an essential part of reestablishing those boundaries will be to rely on "outside" friends for big emotional support.

In Nick and Jess's case, the self-imposed isolation had a dual effect: They couldn't turn to each other for immediate comfort, but they also couldn't turn to anyone else until after Winston's party, so they had to bottle everything up and act happy. Regardless of how fake those smiles were, the experience ate away at the two of them. They wanted to vent to one another, but each person was waiting for the other one to cave first, to give the okay. When that never happened, they panicked and assumed the worst: that the other was perfectly fine with the break-up, that maybe their relationship had been one-sided and never really mattered to the other after all. 

Nick and Jess both gave in eventually, seeking out Tran and Cece, respectively, for advice. However, by that point, the pressure from all that repressed emotion had risen to critical levels, and even venting to Cece was only a stopgap measure until Jess got hammered at Winston's Honey Roast. 

Kudos to New Girl, because that could have been ugly. I didn't want to see Nick and Jess's generally positive break-up experience turn needlessly nasty, and it didn't, because Jess's lowered inhibitions inspired Nick to drop his as well. While they initially worried that airing their stinky laundry would ruin Winston's celebration, on the contrary, the gesture itself was enough to make Winston feel appreciated. And by the end of "Big News," both Nick and Jess were indulging in their traditional coping mechanisms: Jess watched Dirty Dancing and sobbed while Nick drank his feelings and drunk-dialed her every 10 seconds. 

"Big News" ushered in a decidedly ensemble-driven remainder of the season, as Jess and Nick's break-up cleared some space to focus on Cece and her Australian child-bride, as well as her mission to earn her GED and Schmidt's determination to help her do it. And Winston was at the center of the good vibes, making it into the LAPD academy and gettin' down to reruns of COPS and rocking the hell out of that fabulous suit. It's been a bumpy season, but I'm really starting to feel like New Girl's gonna end on a high note.


– "Yeah, my uncle's been on COPS a lot of times." —Winston, making me so excited to learn that I'm not the only person who watches COPS looking for family members. 

– Wind-mice and shell-beavers!

– "You don't even have to love him. Just get that sperm cookin'!" —Jess's mom. And they wonder how Abby turned out the way she did. 

– Schmidt's random pregnancy rant to Cece's closed door was amazing. 

– I can't believe they're gonna give Winston a gun either. 

– Battle of the Break-up Movies: Ghost vs. Dirty Dancing

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