"The Last Thanksgiving"
Original Airdate: November 22, 2016
There's this saying that goes: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I think that can be true for a lot of us — we might find that while our situations, relationships, and circumstances are constantly shifting and changing, there is also a constancy in change. One of the constants in New Girl? Their Thanksgiving episodes are chock full of shenanigans. While some shenanigans are a little more contained than others ("Parents" and "Thanksgiving IV"), there are others ("Thanksgiving" and "Thanksgiving III") that are a bit more outlandish in nature. "The Last Thanksgiving" falls pretty squarely between the two categories, blending heightened shenanigans — Schmidt trying to bond with his dad; Jess trying to avoid Robbie — with real stakes. It kind of makes me sad to know that this could very well be New Girl's last Thanksgiving episode (given the nature of the show, it might make sense if it ends after this year. Either way, it's the last Thanksgiving episode we will spend with the entire gang in the loft), but I have hope in the fact that these characters will continue to celebrate Thanksgivings with one another for years to come.
Let's dive into some turkey, and a very fun holiday episode, shall we?
DROPPING THE HAMMER
In "The Last Thanksgiving," a few of the characters have to have difficult conversations with the people they care about. Jess is forced, thanks to urging by Cece, to tell Robbie that she doesn't have feelings for him. As you'll recall from last week's episode, Jess felt so guilty for hurting Robbie that she has kept dating him, even though the two have no romantic spark. I love Robbie and I'm even starting to warm up to the idea of her and Robbie dating, but admittedly this episode fell into the classic "I didn't know he was who I wanted until he defended my honor" trope. It could be the fact that I'm jaded, or the fact that I'm re-watching Scrubs and finished an episode recently with the exact same storyline, but I kind of hoped for more with the relationship. I like that Jess is recognizing through her relationship with Robbie that chemistry can grow and that appearances aren't always everything. She had to really put her heart on the line again, and is learning about how to form a functional, healthy relationship. Like I said before: I like Robbie. I think he's sweet and he has his moments, but he genuinely cares about Jess. And she deserves that. I'm thankful that she's able to recognize that chemistry comes in all forms, and that it doesn't necessarily have to be an instant spark to be meaningful.
The gang talks about "oomph" early on in the episode, and it's what Jess cites as her reason for breaking up with Robbie. She doesn't feel the same spark and tension that she's felt with other people (including, most notably, Nick Miller). And I think that while it's important to have chemistry, Jess probably ignored the kind of "oomph" that she really deserved — someone who had her best interests at heart and would protect her, no matter what. So by the end of this week's episode, Jess has decided to give it another shot with Robbie. He stood up for her in front of Gavin, proving that he knew her and listened to her (again, very reminiscent of something Mike Lawson did in this week's Pitch) and, most importantly, cared about her.
I'm doubtful that Robbie/Jess will make it for the long haul, but I'm thankful at least that Jess has recognized the kind of value that Robbie has. He might not be the most attractive guy, and he might not have given her any instant sparks when they met. But he is there for her, and cares about her. For Jess, right now, that's what she needs.
Speaking of needing, someone else got to drop the hammer this week — Schmidt, in a confrontation with his dad. While the man spends the majority of the episode excited to spend his first holiday as an adult with his father, Schmidt learns pretty quickly that Gavin isn't all he's made him up to be. We know, of course, that Schmidt has always had a difficult relationship with his dad. There's been bitterness and resentment and grief over the guy who left him. Schmidt was forced to grow up in a lot of ways, and yet his growth was stunted for years, emotionally, because of baggage (including Gavin) from his past.
But with their new relationship, Schmidt is excited. No, scratch that — Schmidt is ecstatic. It's Cece who brings him gently down to earth throughout most of the episode, reminding him that Gavin is only human and that he shouldn't put so much pressure on the day to go perfectly. Of course, Schmidt doesn't really listen to Cece's advice until it's too late. He places all of his hopes and expectations onto Gavin who, as it turns out, gets dumped by a woman named Ann Kim when the episode opens. Feeling bad for his clearly upset father, Schmidt goes to Ann Kim's house and learns that Gavin had been dating five other girls besides her.
I love Schmidt, partially because of his overeager behavior. He cares about things way too much sometimes, and he projects high expectations onto people. It makes him an ambitious career-driven man, but it also sets him up for crippling disappointment in certain areas. And while an earlier version of Schmidt — maybe season two — would have yelled at Gavin and kicked him out of his life for good, Schmidt only does one of those things. Instead of kicking Gavin out (which is what he expects and deserves), Schmidt shows grace. He tells his dad: "I know who you are and I still love you." That's incredibly profound and incredibly mature of Schmidt. He recognizes his father's character flaws, and yet still chooses to love him. It doesn't mean that Gavin is off the hook for what he did — Schmidt is still mad, but then offers suggestions for how Gavin can improve his life — but what it does mean is that Schmidt isn't willing to give up on someone who needs him.
New Girl Thanksgiving episodes are a favorite of mine because they always seem to remind us that absurd things happen every day. Sometimes the turkey falls on the ground. Sometimes a fight breaks out. Sometimes you're stuck being with people you don't really want to be with. But at the very end of the day, there are still things to be grateful for. And there's still laughter, with the promise of another mistake and another grace-giver to get us through the next day.
Really, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.
And now, bonus points:
- "Are you just nursing him back to health because you broke his entire body and face?"
- "Oh, 'oomph' is sex." Nick, I love you. Never change.
- "False alarm! It's just John Stamos on a Greek yogurt float."
- "... Remember when you tongue-kissed that guy?"
- Winston's bagel story is the best. And by that I mean that it's quintessential Winston.
- "The whole sad guy, whisky, flame combination is starting to worry me."
- Schmidt said: "sloppy with my poppy" and I cannot.
- "Nothing means anything."
- "You think Chicago is up?" "It's north." This was AMAZING. Only topped, of course, by Winston — later in the episode — asking (as someone looks up): "Why is he looking at Chicago?"
- "If you don't get out of your room, I'm gonna bleach all your bird shirts."
- Robbie standing up for Jess (literally and metaphorically) was so sweet. I'm an ultimate Nick/Jess shipper, but Jess deserves to be with someone who cares about her like that.
- The entire gang arguing about the turkey is HILARIOUS. It is so perfect because of every other Thanksgiving on this show.
- "I know who you are and I still love you."
- The entire gang recounting their past Thanksgivings made me so emotional. I love these idiots.
What did you all think of this year's Thanksgiving episode? Sound off in the comments below!