Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Girl 6x16 Review: "Operation: Bobcat" (S.A.D.)


"Operation: Bobcat"
Original Airdate: February 14, 2017

For nearly all of my life, I've been single. That means that every year, predictably, when Valentine's Day rolls around, I watch friends get balloons and roses and heart-shaped candy from their significant others. It's easy to feel lonely during this time as a single woman or man — I've always heard Valentine's Day nicknamed "S.A.D.," or "Singles Awareness Day." So in this week's episode of New Girl, which falls and is set on Valentine's Day, it's easy to assume that Jess is sad. Schmidt and Cece spend their first holiday together as a married couple. Winston is ready to propose to Aly. Nick and Reagan are going strong. And then, there's Jess: a woman who still has feelings for Nick but is alone on the holiday that Hallmark tells us is all about love. But what I really enjoyed about "Operation: Bobcat," apart from the fact that it focused on the show's couples, was that it didn't make Jess a victim. As an episode, it didn't ask us to feel pity for her. It actually empowered her to do something with her anger.

Because yes, folks, in this episode Jess isn't sad about Valentine's Day. She's angry.

JESSICA DAY


I love Jess because I relate to her in a lot of ways. And, as I mentioned above, it would be easy to assume that her feelings about Valentine's Day this year stem from a place of sadness and wallowing. She has to watch the man she loves woo someone else. But Jess isn't upset. She's MAD. She's angry that Reagan gets a Nick Miller who tries and who goes out of his way for her. Where was that guy when she and Nick were dating? Jess wonders. She deserved romance and Nick couldn't give it to her. Or wouldn't.

The whole undercurrent of Nick/Jess in this season (and really, since the end of last season) has been really important. New Girl is stepping out on a limb here in writing more blatant stories about this couple. And what's really refreshing is that instead of watching the relationship unfold from Nick's perspective, like we got the first time around, we're watching Jess pine for Nick. We're watching as she hurts and yet still does her best to be the supportive friend that he needs. What I love about the trajectory of this story — and this episode in particular — is that the show doesn't ask for us to see Jess as a victim of her feelings. It would be easy to write an episode in which she mopes around all day, looks longingly at Nick and Reagan, and then ends the episode alone. Jess does still end this episode alone, technically (she's still single), but she ends it in Nick's room with him — supporting him and encouraging him, just like she has done this entire season.

Jess feels deeply, so of course when Nick admits that he's in love with Reagan, she's hurt. It's like a punch to the gut, but that doesn't make her a passive character. "Operation: Bobcat" was fixated on relationships, but also the idea that you can't be in a healthy relationship until you have a healthy one with yourself. Jess tries to deny that there's anything wrong and it takes hot-headed chef Gordon Ramsay to get her to admit that she's not okay — she's upset. Once she is able to admit to someone else that she's working through emotions, she's able to help the people around her. Jess is such an internalizer sometimes that she needs people to push her to open up rather than pretend everything is okay.

Overall, the Jess arc in this episode wasn't fixated on Nick as much as it was the idea that Jess needs to express her emotions — whether anger, sadness, etc. — aloud rather than repress them and put on a happy face. I'm grateful that the show allowed her the chance to explore those emotions and give them meaningful weight.

NICK/REAGAN


Between last week's episode, where Jess knew how to best help Nick and Reagan did not, and this week's episode in which Nick goes out of his way to be over-the-top romantic, while Reagan sends him a necklace, it seems like there might be trouble brewing in paradise for these two. I can't say that I'm necessarily rooting for them to fail quite yet (it's still too far away from the season finale for a reestablishing of Nick/Jess, in my opinion), because I like Reagan. I do. But I think that the time for Nick/Reagan might soon be over. Reagan was integral in helping Nick branch out and grow as a person. He had to step out of his comfort zone in order to be with her, and did things he would have never done otherwise. And of course, that's what makes Jess so annoyed in this episode — Reagan gets a perfect boyfriend, while she got the guy who gave her a horrible Valentine's Day card and didn't even try.

And I think that at this point in his life, Nick has grown and evolved so much from the goofy, directionless bartender that dated Jess that he recognizes when something is amiss in a relationship. He's not coasting anymore. He's not settling. He's looking to actually progress in his relationship with Reagan — to have it go somewhere — but it doesn't seem like Reagan is on the same page. In fact, at this point, it seems like he loves her more than she loves him. But it took Nick evolving into the person we see in "Operation: Bobcat" for him to even realize what a healthy relationship looks like. My ultimate hope is that with all of the growing Nick and Jess have done in the last few years, they'll be in a perfect place to start a new relationship together by the end of this season.

(I really hope I'm right about this, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I might just be.)

WINSTON/ALY


First off, can I just say this: I AM SO HAPPY THAT WINSTON IS HAPPY. I mentioned it last week, but for the longest time, Winston was just as directionless as Nick. And that's no fault of Lamorne Morris, who has always played Winny the Bish with such excellence. I think the writers just really didn't know what to DO with his character. Winston bounced from job to job and from woman to woman, seeming to always get his heart broken. But Aly is exactly the woman for Winston: she's smart and she's a little weird, and she's head-over-heels for our favorite goofy cop. In this week's episode, the title is the focus of the story: Winston decides, under Jess' advice, to do something nice for Aly on Valentine's Day, even though Aly said she doesn't like the holiday. Because of this, Winston and Aly have lunch together where Aly... suggests they get married.

Cue Winston's internal and external panic (and him saying "no"). But that's where Jess steps in: she's ready to cut down Winston's 21-step plan and make it feasible to propose to Aly that very night. As you might expect because this is New Girl, that doesn't exactly go very well. Apart from the shenanigans, Jess removes herself and then reinserts herself into the proposal planning process. But finally, the two manage to get Aly to a bus station bathroom — where she and Winston had a memorable case and he had an epiphany about their relationship — for the big event. And then, predictably, Aly thinks Winston wearing a bobcat suit is a bad guy and gives him a concussion. That leaves Jess to salvage the proposal and read Winston's vows right to Aly.

The vows are just like the couple — adorable, sweet, and a bit weird. But Jess gets emotional, recognizing the fact that above all else, Winston loves Aly. He loves her with all of his heart, and Aly accepts his proposal. Who else is excited for this wedding?!

SCHMIDT/CECE


I'm so happy that Schmidt and Cece are happy, and I'm always going to be grateful to the New Girl writers for the way they evolved this relationship and the incredible ways in which they redeemed Schmidt as a character. In this week's episode, we got the chance to see Cece do something romantic for Schmidt since he was swamped with work and didn't have the chance to plan the perfect "bone-aversary" for them. But when Cece's plan falls apart and leaves her and Schmidt stranded on the roof with Schmidt's boss, Kim, a few feet away, she feels immensely guilty. And this is how you know that Schmidt has grown: he doesn't care about a perfect Valentine's Day. He cares about his job, but never above Cece. He tells her as much, and it's such a cute little moment.

I believe wholeheartedly in the love these two share, because the show has really done an impressive job of giving Schmidt and Cece little moments and stories that weave into one large narrative of their relationship. "Operation: Bobcat" focused on everything that's great about them: their banter, their support, and their unconditional love. I couldn't ask for more in a TV couple, really.

New Girl has always done relationships really well — whether platonic or romantic — and "Operation: Bobcat" was no exception. I love that the show continues to find the humor and the heart in relationships. What a perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day!

And now, bonus points:
  • Any episode that opens with characters doing the Cupid Shuffle is perfect in my book.
  • It's totally on-point for Schmidt to have a "bone-aversary."
  • "You just dialed 17 numbers."
  • "In case you're wondering if I'm under budget... I am not. By thousands of dollars."
  • BIG BOY CUPID.
  • "Sparkles are in. Sparkles ARE IN. SPARKLES ARE IN." Jake Johnson's increasingly loud delivery of that was hilarious.
  • KOALA-TY TIME TOGETHER.
  • "You really toe the line between sweetness and insanity."
  • "This is the start of a very long cry. As a bartender, you really get to know the human cry."
  • Gordon Ramsay appeared! Way to milk those intra-network contacts, FOX.
  • "Winston, I'm not sad. I'm mad." "... Okay. Cool. ... Thanks for the call."
  • "Schmidt, why are you dressed like a Little Rascal?" I've missed Kim.
  • "It's nice. I'm not flaming with rage."
  • "Happy Valentine's Day, Jess." "Happy Valentine's Day, Miller." <3
What did you all think of this week's episode? Sound off in the comments below, and happy Valentine's Day!

1 comment:

  1. That moment with Schmidt on the roof, when he dropped the over-dramatic voice and just went deep and sincere, was the sexiest he's ever been. It was a great moment.
    That comment that Nick made was brutal, and I don't think Jess could have been unaffected, but I don't think it was hearing that Nick loved Reagan. Jess knows Nick better than almost anyone, she knows he loves Reagan. But, the way he said that, "...because I'm super romantic now. What can I say I'm in love" implies that he wasn't in love before - or at least, not nearly as much. Total slap in the face.

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