jason stives is in a cabin, down by the river…
I know I stress character development a lot in my television reviews but in sitcoms it’s more of a necessity because most sitcoms tend to do it in a rather stale manner. New Girl has always been about moving its characters forward but in close proximity of the relationships that happen within the apartment. The first new episode of 2013, “Cabin,” focuses not only on the external relationships of the main four (well, two in particular here) but also how far the main four have come together and how well they seemingly think they know each other.
At this point in the show we have reached that moment when the main four think they know what they all equally want and that is splintered into pairing off each member of the apartment with Nick and Jess retreating to a remote cabin with their significant others and Winston and Schmidt engaging in a ridiculous culture clash. The less emotionally demanding of the two scenarios sees Schmidt trying to get Winston to embrace the essence of his blackness which Schmidt sees in a very stereotypical way. The irony here is that Schmidt, while having very good intentions initially, enforces a racial stereotype on Winston by trying to persuade him to live a little by eating soul food instead of Indian food (southern Indian apparently). We have seen Schmidt paint himself into these scenarios before and as always Winston feeds on it knowing damn well that his friend is a complete goof so he goes as far as to give a fake back-story to his life that involves eating pancakes and enjoying the sweet taste of crack with his mother growing up.
Eventually this leads to some very funny antics involving Schmidt making it his mission to find Winston some crack even driving into the projects where crack is supposedly in abundance. Ultimately this results in Winston and Schmidt accidentally mugging an innocent black man who they lure into their car thinking he can supply them the goods (he just thought they needed directions because I would get in a stranger’s car to give directions, too). This incident leaves all three men in fear of nothing other than their assumption of a stereotype. The thing that strikes me as odd about Schmidt at times is how much of a stereotype he truly is whether it’s exploiting the foibles of his Jewish culture or being a sitcom stereotype that swings out dated clichés like it’s no one else’s business. Maybe that’s why it’s perfect for Winston to get on him in these situations and he seems up his feelings about Schmidt perfectly when he says that there is so much about him that annoys him that he hasn’t even gotten to race. I think that sums up the best friendships where you can be frustrated about who a person is but respect them because they are that person.
Jess and Nick’s retreat to the cabin with Sam and Angie respectfully goes completely awry after Jess shoots out the transformer to the cabin and gets absolutely smashed on shots of Absinthe. Here we get the core emotional moments of the show but not without its share of funny moments especially watching Jess try to use a gun on a an empty bottle. Actually this may feature the two best moments of the episode outside of Winston and Schmidt’s adventure into the projects with Jess feeling she needs a back story to shooting the bottle and Nick delivering the prize line of “Fantasy and nightmare colliding” when he sees Angie assisting Jess in shooting the shotgun. Things start to take a turn when the bottle of Absinthe leaves both Jess and Sam drunk and vulnerable and Angie sees this as a moment to make a move on Sam which she sees as perfectly normal. Jess is understandably angry where as Nick takes nothing away from it as he sees his relationship with Angie as an open one instead of exclusive which you always kind of believe Nick wants even if he doesn’t admit it.
At this point I would normally grumble at them playing up Nick’s obliviousness to his feelings but Nick openly admits his feelings towards Angie after she tries to kiss Sam thinking that all four are mutually agreeing to swap in the cabin. Nick does a lot of learning and good decision making here even if it is in typical Nick fashion which involves eating potato salad out of the trash and promising Nick bucks to compensate for a ride back home after Angie bails on him. Yes, the Olivia Munn arc is over but I’m not sure it was the best move. The trouble here is it doesn’t feel justified other than assuming that Angie is fearful of a relationship because she is a free spirit with a pension for trouble. It was nice while it lasted and the moments between the two couples felt very genuine. What you do take away is the reoccurrence of Nick and his ability to box himself in from being emotionally open and Jess knows this so how quickly Nick opens up to Angie feels out of character even if they pay off feels completely expected.
Both these storylines show a clear picture of how easily the house mates feel they can figure each other out even if it means jumping to some logical and even irrational conclusions. This adds a little bit of texture to their ever growing relationships but kind of makes you wonder where these characters can go separately if they are always going to be trapped in their respected personas and levels of expectations. It’s something to think about as we head into the second half of this season and “Cabin” definitely is a satisfying head scratcher as far as character development as well as a very amusing episode to start off the New Year.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pretty Good)