Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New Girl 5x11 Review: "The Apartment" (Little Steps and Little Leaps)

"The Apartment"
Original Airdate: March 15, 2016

I have said it numerous times before and I'll say it a million more: I'm not a fan of change, even good change. I've gotten better at this over the years, actually, now only internally freaking out for a moment if I'm asked to move to a new desk at work or rearrange a routine at home. But that doesn't mean that I love and enjoy change. Some people adapt well and handle shifting circumstances well. They are the people who can backpack through Europe without having an agenda or a plan in mind. For them, picking up and moving isn't terrifying — it's exhilarating. But the funny thing is that even if you're adventurous and enjoy living life to the fullest, change can sometimes blindside you. And that's exactly what happens to Cece in this week's New Girl episode, aptly titled "The Apartment." She stalls and delays packing up her apartment to move into the loft because she's terrified of change. A lot of changes are happening all at the same time, and when she finally takes a moment to process the reality and weight of them all, Cece is scared. Elsewhere in the episode, Winston and Jess are dealing with their own set of changes — Jess with a new principal to deal with, and Winston with a new partner. But by the episode's end, everyone recognizes that change is scary and there's no doubt about that. However, who you walk through the change with is what makes all the difference.

Let's dive into the episode!


In spite of the fact that we haven't really seen Cece spend a lot of time in her apartment (apart from baby showers for Nadia and tragic henna beards), it's believable to me that she's having a really difficult time processing her move. I've moved quite a few times now — from my parents' house to college, then back into their house; then to my first apartment with my roommate, second apartment with her, and (this past summer) into the house I am currently renting. You probably didn't need to know my entire moving history, but that gives you a bit of an indicator of how much I've changed living situations. And you know what? It still punches me in the gut a little bit to look around a completely bare apartment and know that someone else will be living in my home.

So when Cece looks around and says goodbye to the apartment at the end of the episode while tearing up, I felt those feelings so intimately it hurt. Because what New Girl is great at doing — and what it's always been great at doing — is constructing normal, adult situations and finding the hilarity and heart in the everyday. That's it. This is what the show does best and what it continues to do best. It, at its core, reminds us of the things that are just as true for us as they are for the characters. Hannah Simone does a wonderful, understated job of selling that scene for me.

But before we get to an empty apartment, Cece must face her reality — she doesn't want to pack up her belongings because she is scared of all the changes that are happening very quickly. Soon she will be married. She's moving from the only place in Los Angeles she's ever lived. She's unsure what the future will hold (apart from a wedding to Schmidt), and the inability to see some clear picture of her future ahead is leaving Cece — a usually stoic, quippy character — floundering. I loved that we got a chance to focus on her this episode, as well as the Jess/Cece dynamic. With last week marking the return of the titular "new girl," it was nice to dive back into her relationships with her best friends.

But what I love most about "The Apartment" is the fact that Jess isn't approaching Cece from a position of superiority or knowledge or even from one that lacks fear. Jess is afraid, too, and at the end of the episode, Cece manages to help Jess in the way that she needs it most (but would never be brave enough to do on her own), and Jess helps Cece do exactly the same. That is their friendship, at its core — two vastly different women who make one another braver and bolder. Cece's arc has been so great thus far and I love that this episode allowed her the chance to grow and shine.


Speaking of Jess, this is a woman who is constantly allowing herself to be pushed around by other people because she's afraid of the unknown. In this episode, she's jostled back and forth by her new principal, Becky Cavatappi (guest star Elizabeth Berkley) and asked to handle the school's budget and have it done within 24 hours. Understandably, Jess is frustrated — as she explains to the boys when she begins screaming and using her new punching bag. But she's also frustrated because Becky is the kind of woman who makes other people do the work so that she can take all of the credit. Do you know a Becky? Because I certainly have known my fair share.

The thing is, Jess doesn't like change. She explains that to Cece (the irony, of course, being that Jess is so insistent that Cece pack up her past, but Jess herself doesn't want to risk quitting her job because she can't plan for the future), and Cece — in a moment of brazen drunkenness — grabs Jess' phone and quits her job for her. Let's take a brief moment to flash back to a few seasons ago. Do you remember what happened during "Re-Launch"? Jess lost her job. She was let go. And that season of life terrified her. She didn't know who she was if she wasn't a teacher. Since then, Jess has been employed in some capacity and in some school. Now, the thought of quitting a job she hates to start over again? It's scary. Because how can you plan for a future you can't control?

The simple answer is, of course, that you can't. And at the end of the episode, Jess quits, finally valuing herself and her happiness over familiarity. That's thanks, in large part, to Cece's interference. Like I said: these women are such an amazing example of friendship. They fight and they don't see eye-to-eye on every situation. But they make one another better people, and that's pretty amazing. 



And finally, Winston is dealing with some change of his own. Throughout the episode, he's dealing with a very Winston-like new partner named Dunston. He requested a new partner after Aly wouldn't stop talking about her boyfriend. Winston — who still has feelings for Aly — couldn't handle the situation anymore and did what he is so prone to do. He walked away without confronting the real issue. Do you see a pattern in our loftmates? They're all scared to face an unknown so they fall back on the — Cece on her single life mementos, Jess on her steady job, and Winston on avoidance.

But as it turns out, Dunston really begins to irritate Winston (and Nick and Schmidt for that matter). Have you ever encountered that situation before? Isn't it funny how sometimes the people who annoy us the most do so because there's something within them that is reflective of us? Dunston isn't a terrible guy by any means, but he's really aloof and you can't have two aloof cops trying to work a case. That's why Aly and Winston worked so well together — she was harder and he was the softer, gentler cop. They balanced each other out, and they worked perfectly because their faults and their highlights complemented each other. 

In spite of the fact that Winston recognizes he needs and misses Aly, when it comes time to confront the reason he wanted a new partner in the first place, he can't admit his feelings for her. Aly's earnestness in that moment — and the fear she really did something to offend Winston — was so heartbreaking that you knew Winston wouldn't risk his partnership with her by telling her how he felt.

Everyone in "The Apartment" learned a valuable lesson about change. The truth is that change is inevitable. It's going to happen, whether we like it or not. The only thing we can (and should) hope for is that the people weathering that change with us are holding tightly to our hands with promises to not let go.

Additional de-lovely aspects about this episode include:
  • It didn't really warrant mentioning above, but there was a C-plot with Nick and Schmidt dealing with a flasher at the bar. Hilariously, this is apparently a frequent occurrence and Jake Johnson gets the chance to rattle off lines and do physical comedy bits whilst explaining this all to a horrified Schmidt.
  • "But you know what they say: your life is just weeks, and then you die."
  • "Maybe we get drunk and then everything will just HAPPEN."
  • "Dunston gets it DONE-son, so we can WIN-ston." I don't say this enough, but Lamorne Morris probably has the best delivery of anyone on this show. These are lines that only he could say with such perfect comedic beats and timing.
  • "I'M GONNA TAKE MY PANTS OFF!" "What? Why?!"
  • "I don't leap. I take small, planned steps like an arthritic dog." #gpoy
  • I absolutely LOVE the flashback to the girls looking at the Craigslist ad for the loft. Kudos to this show for literally re-watching (or remembering) the pilot and paying homage to the "sun-soaked" and "beige-y" and Jess thinking the guys were girls.
  • This show has done few things better than re-establishing Schmidt/Cece. Honestly, I could write a novel about how well they reconstructed their friendship and then transitioned them into a believable, wonderful romance. I'm so excited for them and entirely shipping them.
  • "I hope you have a minor career setback, learn from it, relocate, and ultimately have a very nice life, Becky."
  • The cameo by Nadia was AMAZING.
What did you all think of "The Apartment"? Let me know in the comments below!


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