Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Girl 4x07 "Goldmine" (It's More Zany Than Sexy)


"Goldmine"
Original Airdate: November 11, 2014

My roommate eats pizza with a fork and a knife.

The only reason that she knows it's weird is because the first time I saw her do that, I stared -- bewildered -- and then asked her about it. As it turns out, she's always eaten her pizza this way. She's also always used raw honey on her breakouts. That's normal to her. To me, of course, it's weird. It's foreign. The thing is, you never know that what you do or believe or how you pronounce certain words is weird until someone points it out to you. Because the way you live life is -- obviously -- natural and normal. I have no doubt that Nick and Jess think their living situation is a tad weird, but quite frankly, I think they've accepted it as a baseline for normal. They lived together while they dated and now that they're broken up, they still live together. It's not uncomfortable for them; it's just a new kind of normal.

But Nick and Jess begin to realize exactly how weird their current situation is and how uncomfortable it can make others when they start seeing other people who... well, are not them. That's what "Goldmine" is about, at its core: how our baselines for "normal" behavior are subjective and how it's only when we introduce other moving parts into those scenarios that we realize how weird we actually might be.

I liked "Goldmine." I don't think it was as stellar of an episode as "Background Check" (though it was definitely funny), but I also think that it may have been because for the first time this season, there was a C-plot. C-plots seem to weaken New Girl since Winston was usually relegated to them. Weirdly enough, though, Schmidt and Cece were in the smallest plot this episode and though it gave us some hilarious moments for Max Greenfield, I think the episode could have been better spent if more time had been given to fleshing out the B-plot or seeing Nick come up with more backstory for his gay character in the A-plot.

Nevertheless, Berkley Johnson did a good job with an episode whose conceit sounded like it would be absolutely cringe-worthy. I try not to judge New Girl episodes based on their synopses, but I did with "Goldmine." Nick acting gay? That was sure to be cringe-worthy at best and downright offensive at worst, right? Wrong. I think the show handled that plot very well and in the end, it wasn't so much about Nick pretending to be gay as it was (Ian vocalized this which was great) Nick proving that he will always be there for Jess, no matter what. And that was a message that we needed to hear in season four because we haven't seen much Nick/Jess post-breakup interaction.

I love that Nick supporting Jess -- always coming to her rescue, without question, and doing anything she needs -- is a constant in this show. It's as reliable as Schmidt wearing plaid or Coach making fun of Winston or Winston trying to tell a joke that doesn't land well or Cece wearing bangs. A lot of series would try to drum up the awkwardness between the pair and remind us that these two people used to date and used to sleep together and now still actually LIVE together but are seeing other people. But what New Girl does, instead, is something very important and trajectory-changing: it reminds us of what made Nick and Jess such a joy to watch and fall in love with in the first place. It reminds us of episodes like "Cece Crashes," where Nick expresses concern for Jess. It reminds us of "Landlord," with Nick protecting Jess. It reminds us of episodes where Jess told Nick he deserved better and Nick told her the same. See, season four is not trying to remind us that these two used to date and should have awkward tension; it's reminding us that before Nick and Jess ever dated, they really cared about each other and that caring? It doesn't go away. THAT is their foundation, the one thing they will always return to. They have each others' backs. They make fun of each other like they did in seasons one and two. And they love each other. Maybe not in the way that they used to, but they still support each other and do stupid things for each other. (This episode was reminiscent of "Pepperwood" in the shenanigans department between these two.) I'm utterly and entirely convinced that if the trajectory remains the same for Nick and Jess this season that they'll be okay.

Just because they're broken up doesn't mean Nick automatically stops caring about Jess. He cared about (and arguably loved) her when she was with Russell and Sam and when she dated random guys and when she was single. Her relationship status will never alter his affections for her, nor will it change the fact that he would do just about anything to make her happy... even if it's not with him. That's really what "Goldmine" was about for these two: how far they were willing to go to make sure the other person was happy. Nick, as it turns out, went so far as to kiss Schmidt and pretend he was gay so that Ian -- Jess's new boyfriend -- wouldn't feel awkward about her living with her ex.

The "Goldmine" A-plot was all about Nick trying to help Jess out. The episode opens with the men in the loft strongly advising against Jess mentioning that she lives with her ex, lest she drive the guy away. Nick suggests she lie to Ian about him (say he's gay or terminally ill or something) so the new beau doesn't see Nick as a threat. And Nick has experience with people taking his living situation badly, as we see in flashbacks where women run off at the mention of him living with Jess. But Jess is honest and open and unashamed of her living situation... until she brings it up on her date with Ian. The man begins to bolt and instead of tell him the truth, Jess spins a lie: Nick is gay, so he's not a threat at all to Ian. Nick is happy to help Jess out and pretends to be gay for the remainder of the episode.

Meanwhile, Coach's frustration is mounting with Winston who insists that he is running a "long game" on their attractive neighbors (the same ones he was running a long game on during "Mars Landing"). Winston is the kind of guy who has been hurt and rejected a lot, but who's also pretty much a genuinely nice guy. He enjoys helping his attractive female neighbors build things. He enjoys sorting their mail. Winston is all about the long-term: he's about setting goals, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. He's about taking his time in relationships. We've never really seen Winston with as many hook-ups as Schmidt or Nick or Coach: we've seen him in relationships because that's who Winston is. But that's not who Coach is. Coach is all about instant gratification: why delay something you could have later if you could have it now? Unfortunately, Coach imposes this viewpoint on Winston throughout the episode as he attempts to hang out with their new neighbors and initiate hook-ups. Winston spends the entire episode baffled because... well, that's not how he DOES things. It's not who he is. And though, yes, Winston is expecting long-term results from his pursuit of the women, I also don't think he's helping them entirely because of that. He's helping them do things because he's a nice person. And Coach notices this at the end and realizes that he's being taken advantage of by the women because of it.

That was actually a pretty nice moment between Coach and Winston amid the chaos and shenanigans that littered "Goldmine." Coach and Winston may never understand each other -- Coach may think Winston's plans are too long-term and tedious, while Winston may see Coach's tactics as flippant -- but at the end of the episode, it was nice to see Coach acknowledge that Winston deserves to be respected and not used by their neighbors because he does a lot for them. Speaking of shenanigans, things begin to escalate in apartment 4D when Jess brings Ian over for the night and Nick slips by bringing home a girl. The two swap missions: Jess will try to play the crazy ex-girlfriend card and scare the woman away (the problem: crazy doesn't work on crazy) while Nick attempts to distract Ian and play up his gay backstory.

(In the end, the shenanigans unfortunately come to a head when Ian realizes Nick is indeed NOT gay and Jess tries to no avail to get her new beau okay with her living situation so he bolts.)

Elsewhere in the episode, there's a plot about Cece contemplating having breast reduction surgery and Schmidt freaking out about the prospect of Cece altering her body. There's not much substance-wise to this story (there's plenty of comedy as Schmidt experiences the five stages of grief and then insists on saying goodbye to her boobs), but there was a sweet moment where Schmidt acknowledged that Cece's body is special because it's attached to HER. And he thinks she's the most beautiful woman. It was nice for Cece to be able to hear that, even though she wasn't supposed to. It's a small reminder that Schmidt cares about her and she values what he thinks of her, even though they're no longer together.

Thematically, that's really what "Goldmine" was about: it focused on the relationships between these weird individuals, their romantic histories, and reminded us that though they think other people in their lives are weird... they are actually the oddballs. The final scene of the episode features Jess and Nick acknowledging that fact as the entire loft stands in line to use the shower. They both realize that though they're okay with the way their relationship exists, other people see them as weird.

But the loft cew accepts their weirdness. Nay, they EMBRACE their weirdness. They all realize that they may never find normal people to be compatible with so long as they live in the same loft together. And honestly, I think that Nick, Jess, Coach, Winston, and Schmidt are all okay with that because they have each other.

When describing her living situation to Ian, Jess said: "It's more zany than sexy." That's it, folks. That's the show. And I love it.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • "He's going to run through the wall like the Kool-Aid man."
  • "It's gross and disgusting and I'm gonna steal some stuff."
  • "They're called uh-ohs."
  • Jake Johnson's ghost impression had me dying from laughter.
  • "You really are a prince among men, Nick."
  • "I want to choke you until your eyes literally pop out of your head."
  • Schmidt's five stages of grief flashbacks had me cackling out loud at multiple parts during this episode. Only Max Greenfield could sell something so absurd and weird and make it actually oddly sentimental.
  • I loved that Nick and Jess came up with elaborate backstory for Nick's gay character. I love that we also got the callback to Nick sweating when he lies by Ian calling him out on it during the episode.
  • "I am SHATTERING stereotypes."
  • I love the callback to Sam high-fiving Jess in the morning and Jess high-fiving Ian.
  • "Are you blaming autumn?"
  • "Wigs are so good for tricking guys." That girl was CRAZY but I also hope she continues to make an appearance, like she still thinks she's dating Nick throughout the entire season or something.
  • "Clearly he would do anything for you." There is hope for you, my little Nick/Jess shipper heart yet!
  • "Oh my god, we're the weirdo ass-clowns."
Thank you all for reading this week's New Girl review! See you back here next week. Until then, hit up the comments with your thoughts on the episode. :)

3 comments:

  1. Hi Jenn :)
    as you know, season 4 doesn't run with us in germany yet, but i found a website, where i can see the latest season in english - so i had a chance to watch it, even if i didn't understand every joke oder word, it was nice to see that the season 1 and 2 feeling is back. I liked season 3 and i am not one of them who complained.. but i have to say, that season 3 was more an ness-story. The beginning of season 3 was good and refreshing, i mean a dream of every jess and nick fan came true.. but after some time it become an nick/jess and schmidt/winston/coach/cece show..

    ok - goldmine..
    for me an really funny episode.. as you've already written in your review.. it is hearted to see, that no matter what happend in the end of season 3 they always will care about eachother.. Nick is the perfect man for jess..and i think later on jess will think so too.

    There ist just one thing i have not properly understood - you've written:

    "And they love each other. Maybe not in the way that they used to, but they still support each other and do stupid things for each other"

    What do you mean with "maybe not in the way that they used to"?
    I would be happy if you can explain it to me..

    If i can write down one point i am pleased to 2014 - it would be the point, that i am very very very happy that i found your site.. your picks and reviews and all the other lovely thing are sooo adorable!! THANK YOUUU !! :)

    Lovely greeting from germany,
    Aylin

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    1. Aylin! It's so good to hear from you. :) I am so glad that you found a place where you're able to watch the new episodes. And I definitely agree with you -- season four has returned to a very group-centric show. It wasn't terrible when it was all about Nick and Jess (there were some really great episodes in season three), but it is nice that everyone has stories with everyone else this year.

      I enjoyed "Goldmine," though not as much as I enjoyed "Background Check," I don't think. I did really love that Nick and Jess had a story together and it wasn't awkward for them like it was at the end of season three.

      So what I mean by that is this: Nick and Jess can't care about each other like they used to, romantically. They're seeing other people in season four because they want to move on with their lives. But I think that no matter what happens -- if they get back together or not -- they will always love each other and support each other because they were doing that long before they dated. Even if it wasn't in a romantic way, this episode proved that Nick will still do anything for Jess and that him dating her wasn't the reason he was doing all those things for her. Hopefully that makes sense!

      I'm so glad you've found this site and are able to keep up with the show and the reviews half-way across the world from me. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

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