Tuesday, May 15, 2018

New Girl 7x07 and 7x08 Review: "The Curse of the Pirate Bride" & "Engram Pattersky" (Teach Me How to Say Goodbye) [Contributor: Jenn]

"The Curse of the Pirate Bride" & "Engram Pattersky"
Original Airdate: May 15, 2018

Well... this is it. It's been an incredible run, and even as I type these words, I can't believe that this is the series finale of New Girl. This show will always have such a special place in my heart. It's a series that taught us all that it's okay to be weird, to fall in love a lot, to make mistakes, to embrace who you are, and to never stop trying. This quirky, adorkable little show grew far beyond those two labels into something genuinely beautiful and representative of what it looks and feels like to be an adult who doesn't know exactly how to navigate life as an adult. We've watched these characters grow from the pilot episode into the people who embark on new journeys in the finale.

I'll talk a lot more about these episodes momentarily, including the incredible character arcs we've witnessed over seven years. But for now, just know that I love New Girl — in its peaks and valleys — and found the final two episodes to be emotional, hilarious, and a fitting end to the series.

"The Curse of the Pirate Bride"

The plot: it's Nick and Jess' wedding day, and everything is set to go off without any issues whatsoever. That definitely sounds like New Girl, right? (You're laughing, because of course everything would go wrong on their wedding day!) But just like the botched proposal in the last episode, the slightly-flash forwarded nuptials are perfect because of how imperfect they are. Jess initially buys into her mother's insistence that she and Nick spending the night before their wedding together somehow cursed the pair. And soon enough, Nick is citing the curse for everything going wrong.

Their wedding day begins innocently enough, but when she slips in the bathroom and scratches her cornea on one of Milo's dog toys, Jess is understandably upset. She's got an eye patch but isn't buying that it's part of some curse. Until Joan shows her the eviction notices that have been piling up in her and Nick's mail for months. Now Jess is freaking out.

Upstairs on the roof, where the pair is set to marry, Nick begins to worry about the curse after a bird poops on his shoulder and his editor turns down his new book proposal. In a move initiated by Winston and Schmidt, Nick confronts his editor... only to be fired moments later. "Curses are real!" Nick yells from the roof. Meanwhile downstairs, Jess is freaking out about the curse and decides to indulge her mother... and may or may not wind up high and eating her own wedding cake as a result.

It's up to the best man and matron of honor to save our pair! When Russell shows up though, it seems like the curse suddenly goes from bad to worse — he tells Jess he loves her and to ditch Nick and marry him instead. And this is where I found the episode to be so refreshing. There is no doubt in Jess' mind that she is in love with Nick. She wants to marry him. She has no doubts whatsoever about them.

Even when Russell hands Jess the cards from "First Date."

Y'all, I freaked out a little bit during this scene. Out of all of the plots on New Girl that seemed to be dropped, I thought this one would be for sure. When Russell tells Nick and Jess to write down what their relationship means on two valet cards, they both do. And Russell's reaction to their notes in "First Date" seems to be one of skepticism. Now — on Jess' wedding day, years later — Jess has the cards in her hand and Russell tells her that neither she nor Nick were ever sure of their relationship.

Of course, Nick bursts into the stairwell where Russell and Jess are sitting and begins to attack the man. The whole gang ends up at the hospital soon enough, mostly because Aly is in labor, and there Nick and Jess discuss their failed wedding day.

It's funny — the proposal last episode was perfect in so many ways to me because of how imperfect it was. And a hijinks-centric wedding day where all the possible things that can go wrong do seems like the perfect wedding for Nick and Jess. (Thankfully, they agree with me.)

Jess then pulls out the cards Russell gave her, on which both she and Nick — in regards to what their relationship was — wrote "I don't know." I'm honestly not surprised that this was the response. These two were so in sync and so scared of it that even when they could've written down vastly different answers, they echoed the same scared sentiment. I remember Nick and Jess from season two. Do you? They were these two kids who had so much passion and care for each other, but were terrified of screwing up what they had. They tried to date and both weren't at the place where they could be honest and vulnerable with each other. They were scared, holding back their feelings and fears.

In season seven, it's beautiful to see how much these two have evolved. No longer are they scared of being together. They're no longer scared of diving in too deep. They now are mature enough to admit aloud to the things they couldn't years ago. They may not have jobs, or a place to live, or a single clue of what comes next.

But they have each other. And that's more than enough for them. There's this beautiful little exchange that they have right before they decide to get married in the hospital:

Jess: "We've both been scared about so many things for so long. I don't care about the past. Or the future. All I care about is right now, right here — you and me."' 
Nick: "I just wanna have a weird, wonderful life together. I wanna get married, and I wanna take care of you. I don't even care about a stupid curse. ... "Hey Jess? You wanna have the weirdest wedding of all time?"  
Jess: "To you? That's all I want, Miller."
So right there, in the hospital where Aly is about to have a baby and where Jess' scratched cornea looks disgusting and where Schmidt managed to find a rabbi and where a nurse plays "Groovy Kind of Love" on his iPad keyboard and where a new mom hands Ruth a bouquet of flowers and where everything is sad but happy at the same time, Nick and Jess get married.

They get married knowing that they can live without rooftop nuptials or cake or flowers or dozens of guests, but they can't live without each other.

And now, bonus points:
  • I love that Nadia makes her final appearance at the very beginning of the episode!
  • There's a minor plot point about Winston and Schmidt giving Nick and Jess a wedding roast instead of toast, and basically all you need to know is that Bob Day was not amused.
  • "But in a real way, Nick sucks as a person y'all."
  • I love that Jess forgetting to invite Sadie to the wedding becomes an actual part of the plot in "Engram Pattersky." Bless this show.
  • "Well that curse can kiss my ass, and you can kiss my face."
  • "I don't look like a pirate bride?" "No!" "Never!" "Why are we lying to her?"
  • "It's so weak, they call it gun control in America." THEY DID THAT.
  • It's the return of high!Jess. The last time we saw her was in "A Chill Day In," right? She's coming around more than once every ten years now!
  • "Did I make that sound with my mind?"
  • "Why is this how we make more people?! It's a terrible system!"
  • "What's the password?" "Ruth1." "Wrong." "Ruth2?" "Wrong." "Ruth3?" "Close!" "Don't do this to me, kid!" "Wrong."
  • "You're all so bad at fighting!"
  • DanBill Bishop, I'm dying.
"Engram Pattersky"

It's time to bid goodbye to the loft and our amazing roomfriends in this hilarious, sentimental trip down memory lane. I'm not good at goodbyes. Neither, of course, is Jessica Day. She tries to tell Winston, Aly, Schmidt, and Cece over a conference phone call that she and Nick are moving out of the loft. But it's too much. So she calls them over in person. The core three — Winston, Cece, and Schmidt — are scared at whatever news Jess has to share. When she tells them, they're all baffled. They made peace with leaving the loft months or years ago.

Nick's okay with leaving, but his wife (who else loved the fact that Nick referred to Jess as "his wife" multiple times?) hasn't even begun packing yet. Jess is so not okay.

And because she's not okay, no one else is allowed to be okay. She locks the front door and demands that the group take a trip down memory lane before they can help her and Nick pack. Nick, meanwhile, takes the group aside and tells them that the only way they'll all survive the night is if they play along with Jess and pretend to get sentimental too. Schmidt, Winston, and Cece reluctantly agree to Nick's demands.

Jess, meanwhile, does the exact opposite of pack: she pulls out memorabilia from the last seven years (try and name all of the references you can! Some of my favorites: the "swuit," Winston's throne, the jam T-shirt that Spencer stole from Jess, etc.), and the group feigns interest/sentiment. Then Jess decides that simply looking at stuff isn't enough; the group needs to DO things in the loft they've never done before!

This is where the patience of the group begins to wane, and soon enough, Jess overhears Schmidt telling Nick that he's getting tired of pretending to be sad over stupid things. Jess is heartbroken, obviously, and tells her friends that they can leave. It's hard when you're the last one holding on. But it makes sense, as Jess notes, because the loft meant everything to her. It's where she found healing from her break-up and friends who became family. It's where she made memories, fell in love, and watched her two best friends get married. It's where she sat around the table for Thanksgivings and played countless games of True American.

To her, it wasn't a loft — it was a home. And a home she's having a hard time saying goodbye to.

After her moment of self-actualization, the group decides they've been a little harsh and agree to help her celebrate the loft in the way it deserves. After, Jess declares that they've finally done everything in the loft she wanted for the last time. Nick is the one to disagree though, and proposes a final game of True American. Winston, Nick, Schmidt, Cece, and Jess drink and laugh and leap around the apartment, cleaning and packing up all of Nick and Jess' stuff. As they clear up memories, we get to see a flash-forward.

See, this isn't the final game of True American after all.

In a scene that left me sobbing the first time I saw it (legit, I was a bit concerned), we get a flash-forward of True American... Kids Edition. Nick and Jess still have Mario, and now a little boy in a Bears jersey. They cheer for him as he chugs root beer, and the camera pans to another room where Schmidt and Ruth encourage her brother Moses to chug some more. Then Aly and her football team of boys leap onto pillows, Winston and his wife close behind them. Cece leaps in from the other room, and the whole scene is scored with beautiful, sentimental music.

Some adults in the flash-forward stand together on a chair... and then the scene cuts back to the present, where every character is left standing together on one cardboard box. The loft is empty. It's time to go.

Seeing the empty loft made me ache, but also feel weirdly okay. At some point in our lives, we all have to move on. We change jobs. We leave our cities. We meet new people. We start new relationships. But if we're really lucky, we'll always have a group of friends who ground us — the ones who are our second families; who our children call "aunt" and "uncle," and who fit just as much in our social lives as in our living rooms.

While the bar was the place the gang often met, the loft was really the place where they became family. 4D was as much of a character in the series as Jess, Nick, Schmidt, Cece, and Winston were. As the gang packs up the memories and heads out, there's one thing left: a final Prank Sinatra prank.

Yes, you read that correctly. As it turns out, Winston pulled off one of his biggest pranks yet. He set up the fake company "Engram Pattersky" (rearranging the letters, it spells "my greatest prank"), got some of our minor New Girl characters to help him pass out fake eviction notices, and had Fawn Moscato personally talk to Jess.

The gang is appalled that Winston pulled a prank THIS big, and they're equal parts angered and horrified. As they discuss how big of a prank this was, they all pile into the moving truck to a song called "Until We Get There," which — if you're as big of a fan as me — was featured at the end of "Winston's Birthday."

One of the lyrics to the song is:
What do you say? Is this the time for one more try at a happy life?
And I think that's kind of fitting. Jessica Day arrived at 4D with no real idea of what was going to come next for her life. She had just been cheated on, and would watch Dirty Dancing for hours on end. She learned how to be a stronger, better version of herself thanks to Nick, Schmidt, Winston (and Coach), and Cece. Nick was a jaded, cynical guy who was still hung up on Caroline. Winston had no clue what he wanted to do with his life. Cece was a model who settled for dudes who didn't deserve her, and was afraid to be vulnerable. And Schmidt? Schmidt just wanted to live his life, uninhibited.

Now they're parents and husbands and wives, and beginning a new chapter of their stories with pranks, True American, and lots of laughter.

The New Girl gang has grown up. But they'll never stop being those people we fell in love with. They're just better versions of themselves. And for that? I'm forever grateful.

And now, (final) bonus points:
  • I've been reviewing New Girl for five years now, and I'm so honored that you all chose to come on this journey with me. I can't express it enough, but I'll miss this show dearly.
  • Ruth's little "who are these people?" is hilarious. Also the entire conference call at the beginning of the episode was so on-point with everything we know to be true about these characters.
  • "Why do you always think like a character in The Babysitter's Club?"
  • I'm really happy that the show did a mid-dialogue credits cut. It reminded me of my favorite Community cut.
  • "I'm gonna go open a bottle of wine. Pink okay?"
  • It's fitting that the teleplay for the finale was written by Liz Meriwether, and the episode by Dave Finkel and Brett Baer. I'm so glad these three were showrunners together, and I hope they get to work on projects in the future because they just have a fantastic way of crafting stories.
  • I love the meta moment where the group looks at one of the places in the loft that's never featured.
  • "You sweet, goblin-eyed dumb-dumb."
  • Cece's baby voice makes a reappearance and I think Hannah Simone should win an Emmy for that alone.
  • The first time I watched the screener and got to the flash-forward, I just started audibly sobbing and could not stop. I've watched it numerous times since, and still cry.
  • "You ready?" "Yeah, let's go."
  • I love that Sadie, Fawn, Principal Foster, and biology teacher dude returned.
  • "Until We Get There" broke me at the end of "Winston's Birthday," and it broke me now.
  • I love so much that the final audible line of the series is "ridiculous." It seems so right.
THAT'S ALL SHE WROTE, FOLKS. I'm so sad, but also so happy this show ended on the best note possible. What were your favorite moments? What made you cry? Sound off in the comments below!


  1. Yup, weeping like Jess looking at a picture of a tiny dog in a teacup.

    Thanks for years of fun!

  2. I did not like the Winston mess around...I thought they should have ended it with the flash forward of the families.

    This has been one of my favorite shows and I was always looking forward to your posts.