Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New Girl 4x17 "Spiderhunt" (#TheStruggleIsReal)

Original Airdate: February 24, 2015

When there is a spider (or a cockroach because I live in Florida, remember) in my apartment, I have the tendency to... freak out. Just a bit. I do exactly what Schmidt does in this episode -- aptly titled "Spiderhunt" -- and I prowl around looking for the bug and I hunt it down because I don't want to let the fear of the bug prevent me from enjoying my dinner or going to sleep. Fear is kind of a powerful motivator for a lot of things, if you think about it. It can cause us to be braver than we ever thought we could be. It can also cause us to cower in the corner with a rolled up newspaper and a jar. This week's New Girl wasn't plot-heavy, but it was shenanigan-heavy. And it exemplified something that I think is important (and that New Girl always does when it is at its best): it showed us that the show works best when everyone is together.

Sleepy Hollow had problems this season (and, admittedly, I stopped watching a few episodes into the new season) because it spent a lot of time focusing on characters no one cared about and relationships no one wanted to see explored. The audience yearned for the core team of Ichabod and Abbie to be the focus and when it wasn't, a lot of the audience abandoned the show. New Girl knows that it is always at its best when it explores the dynamic between these six really weird, really wonderful individuals. It's a fact, actually, stated by Schmidt at the end of the episode. The series has been firing on all cylinders this year because it is taking its time focusing on shenanigans and friendship and gleaning heart from every situation.

New Girl is essentially working because every week, the gang is going on a spiderhunt together.

The plot of "Spiderhunt" is pretty simple but extremely hilarious. It's another episode (like "Oregon" and "The Crawl") that is group-centric. So while the episode takes place entirely in the loft and centers around the group searching for a spider, there are smaller stories contained within it as well. Fawn Moscato -- Schmidt's new girlfriend -- is coming to the loft for dinner for the first time and in order to impress her, Schmidt is having Nick cook. That's right: there is ONE thing Nick is really good at making and it's something called "the sauce." So throughout the entire episode, Nick works on cooking this extremely time-consuming, mayonnaise-filled concoction that looks and tastes disgusting until the very end of the episode.

While Schmidt is slowly freaking out about Fawn's impending visit... a spider appears. Let's take a moment to pause and talk about how great Schmidt's growth has been this season. Fawn is such an intriguing, weird, socially awkward woman but she's been good for Schmidt. Actually, she's been great for him because she's allowed him to grow, emotionally. Schmidt is the one who tells Fawn that he wants something with her -- a relationship -- and if he's just going to be looked at by her as some PR opportunity or arm candy, he wants no part of it. He wants to be a better person and he wants to be the kind of guy that a woman actually cares about. How amazing is that growth from, say, last year or the second season? Schmidt is the one who is talking about being in a committed relationship. Think about that. It's wonderful.

Jess doesn't understand why Schmidt is so freaked out by spiders, but seeing him jump onto the table makes her realize that Fawn absolutely cannot see him that way. So they need to find and kill the spider before she arrives. (As an aside: I love bottle episodes with time constraints. "The One Where No One's Ready" set that precedent, in my opinion.) Meanwhile, Winston and Cece are talking on the phone because, if you'll recall, he's the only one who knows that Cece likes Schmidt again. And the woman has been avoiding being at the loft because she doesn't want to feel awkward and she knows Schmidt is happy with Fawn. Winston... well, Winston isn't good at playing coy or hiding things, which means that something will go wrong. And it DOES in "Spiderhunt."

Winston promises Cece that he won't tell Jess what's going on -- that she likes Schmidt -- and so throughout the episode, he struggles to hide a secret from Jess. She's not dumb, though, and knows how hilariously bad at hiding things and so she's able to coax out of Winston that Cece likes someone in the loft. When Jess confronts Cece about this, the latter tells her best friend that she didn't want to tell her she had feelings for someone because Jess... well, Jess has this tendency to want to try and step in and help. Everyone. With everything. That's something that is so perfectly Jessica Day, really. Instead of waiting for things to happen, she MAKES them happen. And she does so because she really does care about the people she loves. She wants them to be happy. And she wants to force happiness.

But since Cece won't tell her who she likes, Jess comes to the (incorrect) conclusion thanks to Winston that Cece likes Nick. This leads to hilariously awkward exchanges in the kitchen between Jess and Nick where the former tries to be okay with the idea of Nick and Cece becoming a thing (there are some great misunderstandings that occur). When I heard that this plot would involve Jess mistakenly thinking that Cece was interested in Nick, I wondered how the show would handle Jess's reaction. In "Spiderhunt," the woman is understandably horrified and confused, first of all. She then tries to come to terms with the idea of her ex-boyfriend and her best friend being an item. And in a move that is hilariously Jessica Day, she ends up locking them in her bedroom while she plays her "frisky mix" outside of the door (Jake Johnson and Hannah Simon's faces in that scene were HYSTERICAL). I love that Jess tries her best to be happy for Cece, if that is who she wants to pursue. And I love that she tries to accept a man she once loved being interested in her best friend. I don't think Jess would really be as okay with Nick and Cece becoming an item as she assures everyone she is in this episode, but I love that we get to see her process a lot of different (funny) emotions in a short period of time.

Elsewhere in the loft, Winston is giving Coach advice on how to write that e-mail to May that he's wanted to write. Coach is hilariously inarticulate and Winston (the man who once said: "AY GIRL, WHAT YO NAME IS?") is horrified over Coach's terrible e-mails. Schmidt, meanwhile, is trying to find the spider since the group divided off into pairs (a person with a jar and one designated to be the "smusher") to scour the apartment. While he's looking around, I love that Schmidt starts to notice random details of the loft he's never seen before. There's not a whole lot of deep, narrative significance in him doing so, but it's fun to see him look at this place that he's lived in for so long and realize that he thinks he knows a lot about it but really doesn't. That there are still things in the loft that are surprising and interesting to Schmidt. I like that. I like exploring the loft's nooks and crannies, both literally and relationship-wise.

Cece eventually confesses to Jess the truth: she likes Schmidt. And Jess? Jess is adorably and wonderfully thrilled for her best friend. And she also wants to help. But Cece expresses the desire for Jess to not say or do anything. Fawn and Schmidt are happy and she doesn't want to mess with that. Honestly, I love Cece. I love her so much because I love seeing her progression from angry to driven and compassionate when it comes to Schmidt. I love that she's patient and I love that she's more concerned with not messing up his relationship than with getting what she wants. And the moment with Jess is a beautiful little glimpse into how the Jess/Cece relationship has always been.

In the kitchen, Schmidt finds (and thinks he kills) the spider and in the process accidentally hits Coach's computer and sends the fifteen really terrible drafts he created to May. Turns out, though, Schmidt doesn't kill the spider and it ends up on his face (ewwwww) while everyone else watches, horrified to point out what has happened. And then Fawn walks through the door who is this amazingly funny no-nonsense woman and she slaps the bug off Schmidt's face, effectively killing it. She doesn't like Schmidt's flaws (she says that at dinner), but she accepts them and she doesn't care if Schmidt screams like a girl because he's afraid of spiders. If he doesn't step up and take care of something, she will. That's actually what is SO great about Fawn as a character and why her introduction to the loft (Jess's "she scares me" was perfect) is so necessary: she's a tough woman. She doesn't swoon, but she has a heart. And she's bold and brash and unafraid and Schmidt needs someone like that. I love that Fawn doesn't accept things as they are, either. She makes them better. She doesn't care if Schmidt can't kill a spider; she WILL.

The entire group settles in for dinner (which apparently is great, thanks to Nick's sauce) and Schmidt toasts to friendship and to the idea that life is always better when the six of them are in it together. Jess holds Cece's hand under the table because that's what is going to help the woman through her feelings for Schmidt: not an elaborate scheme to get him back, not a confession of her feelings, but just of her best friend being there to hold her hand when things get tough.

The six of them -- Coach, Winston, Cece, Jess, Nick, and Schmidt -- are a team. And no matter what comes their way, whether spiders or significant others or sauce, they'll be okay as long as they're fighting battles together.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • "Normally food a la Nick would be less appealing than licking the floor of a beach bathroom."
  • Winston and Cece's phone conversation was HYSTERICAL. I'm so glad that these two are sharing more scenes together this season. Also Cece's exasperated: "I KNOW HOW MANY TIMES" was great.
  • "Okay, baby. Your secret is safe with me. That being said... I am not a smooth man."
  • "You know how he gets. He turns into a cartoon elephant of yesteryear who just saw a mouse." "Which is offensive in present-day 'cause it seems like a gay stereotype they tried to sneak by us."
  • "Y2K was an uncertain time."
  • There's a whole sub-plot about Cece wanting a popcorn machine for the bar which is what leads to Jess misunderstanding what her and Nick are talking about in the kitchen. Basically, all you need to know is that it is great stuff.
  • I love how many callbacks were in this episode including Jess mentioning her purse fight with Cece from earlier this season ("Girl Fight") and Winston's slow puzzling skills ("All In").
  • "I can hear it. I can hear it building its house. Its sticky, deadly house that you can never leave."
  • "Nooooo. You guessed it. How you did that?"
  • "Don't make this a feminist thing!"
  • "Cece! Do ladies have loins?"
  • "It says we need a murder of peppercorn and some of that... flat Jew bread? Nick!"
  • "Well, you've done it. The perfect burn for the dead bug."
  • "In the spiderhunt of life... I sure am glad that we're a team of six."


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