New Girl has become a rather notorious show to review here on Pop-Break. General interest in the show can lose momentum after an initial 10 episodes depending on which way the wind blows. Within the narrative the show is not afraid to just go with some cliché ideas and make it original by either prolonging it or faking the viewers out in its expected outcome. That being said it’s always something to talk about because it still feels fresh and rather charming among some of the rather dull sitcoms Fox produces (last night’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine may change that notion). Last season’s finale left viewers with a mix of confusion and satisfaction in some of its story lines. The season 3 premiere “All In” addresses those feelings by starting right where we left off and the results are both conclusive and maddening at the same time. Oh, and there are laughs of course.
Of the two lingering threads from the end of last season — addressing Nick and Jess head on was the most important. We don’t get a definitive resolution here but it has started with them acknowledging that they should just go for it and see what happens. All the moments in Mexico here are just reactionary to them not knowing what to do. Jess, while rather expressive, is bad at conveying feelings and Nick simply just rarely conveys them at all in fear of not liking what he says. We spend most of the episode with them just on a simple adventure never really getting the gist of their thoughts on their sudden confessions till the very end. New Girl is notorious for this and it can be frustrating at times but if it were to focus continuously on these threads the show would simply become another formulaic sitcom which some may argue it is. At times the show follows this path and the occasional dry spell within the show of great episodes tends to enforce it but there are still many things that keep it interesting.
What remains the most interesting is how separating the group enforces the need for each other. Yes, we end this episode with Jess breaking up some unnecessary squabbling between the roommates and instilling they are a package deal but it means more for outside storylines beyond Nick and Jess. Since we have the group separated from one another for the first time in a while it provides some very entertaining moments mainly between Schmidt and his newly appointed best friend, Winston. I’m still not sure what the long term game plan for Winston is but I love his inclusion in any storyline. It’s the wise advice and the silly and bizarre quirks that make Winston’s presence important and here was no different. The revelations of Winston being both color blind and bad at puzzles was incredibly funny and being forced to endure Schmidt’s lies to Cece’s was both uncomfortable and rather noble of him to watch. I say noble because there is instantly a reaction to call him on his crap which he does. Schmidt needs Winston to do this even though both drive each other nuts and that is why the group itself always needs one another apart or not.
Schmidt’s dilemma involving Elizabeth and Cece was an annoying one to leave Season 2 with. In fact, most relationship issues that involve Cece and Schmidt are annoying. Maybe it’s the sympathy towards Elizabeth (mind you this girl isn’t going to last) but watching both of these throw logic out the window in their decisions is still annoying. Cece seems to have forgotten why she called off her wedding to be with this guy and it’s only mentioned in small doses. Schmidt on the other hand stirs the pot as he usually does providing some uncomfortable moments between he and Winston when Cece comes knocking. Schmidt knows he isn’t making sense of this and that’s very much him but it doesn’t mean this go around again isn’t getting a bit tiresome.
As frustrating as that situation is it’s uniquely their own and a hallmark to New Girl’s enjoyment. Our main characters may resemble stereotypes but they are rarely fastened to be anything but different usually hovering outside normality. Jess and Nick just up and going to Mexico in a heat of passion is exactly them because they don’t know what they are doing. Even watching these two take off Graduate style and amp up their expressions of liking each other feels uniquely theirs. That is why the show still works and “All In” does work despite lacking the real gut busting moments of comedy. Save for the moments with Winston and Schmidt it feels like business as usual minus an improper balance of comedy and plot development. In its third season New Girl looks like it’s all about the next step forward and branching out with these characters after two seasons of finding their centers.