Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New Girl 7x05 and 7x06 Review: "Godparents" & "Mario" (I've Had the Time of My Life) [Contributor: Jenn]

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"Godparents" & "Mario"
Original Airdate: May 8, 2018

The final four episodes of New Girl are broken down into two episodic installments over an hour. This week's penultimate episodes before the two-part series finale? A pair titled "Godparents" and "Mario." While the first installment features a lot of fun and hijinks, the second wraps up some stories we've watched throughout the series with the kind of humor and heart that is customary for this show. Ready? Let's dive into each of the episodes!


In our first episode, Winston is freaking out because he's not sure he's ready to be a father, while Schmidt has to readjust to working life and Cece has to try and figure out how to parent Ruth. She enlists Nick for help and it... goes about as well as you'd expect it.

In the end, "Godparents" isn't my favorite episode of this season, but it teaches each of our characters lessons in what it means to be okay with raising a child. Jess is the only member of the group who is chosen to be a godparent to Winston and Aly's little boy. And, like she does, Jess takes her responsibilities extremely seriously. (Meanwhile, Nick is bummed he didn't get asked to be the godfather, and spends the entire episode trying to get Ruth to like him once he finds out she sees him as dumb.)

When Jess needs to fill in for Aly during a birthing class, Winston panics about being a father. The reality is starting to sink in and he confesses that ever since he found out he was going to be a father, he couldn't stop thinking about his own father. Even though he knew it was irrational, he somehow expected his father to show up in his life, just when he needed him most. Jess, because she's JESS, decides to track down Winston's dad and make that meeting happen. And it's emotional, beautiful, and everything Winston wanted it to be.

Just a tiny little issue though: the man Jess thinks is Winston's dad? Definitely NOT Winston's dad. Aly says she knows what Winston's father looks like from photographs at the precinct and the man in their home is not remotely related to Winston Bishop. But the conclusion that Jess draws from the story (after some minor Winston freak-outs) is this: you don't have to have a father to be a good father to a child. Winston and Aly are going to raise their son to be a great man, and it's because Winston is a great man, not because his father was. It's a touching way to end this particular story.

But speaking of children, it's up to Cece and Nick to be "parents" for Ruth this episode, since Schmidt has returned to work. As we expected, he's got binders filled with instructions for how to parent his little girl, but Cece's got this. Or, at least, she thinks she's got this. When things begin to go awry from the moment she tries to pick Ruth up from pre-school, you know it can only go downhill fast. Soon enough, Ruth is calling Schmidt during a big presentation for a salsa campaign and the man rushes off to Triangles to rescue his baby girl.

I'd like to point out something here that I think is important: New Girl has always done such a great job with characterization and especially with subverting male/female tropes in Schmidt and Cece's relationship. Schmidt is organized, cooks, and prefers things done his way (especially cleaning). Cece is a bit more laid-back with those things (remember the clothes and shoes he left all over the loft that sparked a fight with Nick?) and has a very dominant personality. But the show has never presented Schmidt as wrong for wanting to be a stay-at-home dad, or Cece as somehow less of a mother because she prefers to work.

And that's where "Godparents" ends up: at a conversation between the two about Schmidt staying home with Ruth. There's this touching, sweet (and a little sad) scene where Schmidt has to return to work and Ruth and he touch their foreheads together sadly. Schmidt loves taking care of Ruth and even though Cece loves Ruth to the moon and back, she wants to be working. I love that New Girl reminds us that both are okay — it's okay to be a working parent, and it's okay to be a stay-at-home one and that neither invalidates the importance of the other. Schmidt and Cece just know what's best for their daughter. And that's for Schmidt to stay home and have daddy/daughter spa time with Ruth.

"Godparents" provides a nice transition into the home stretch of this series. It showcases how much the gang has grown up and the kind of responsibilities they now have. But it also reminded us that at the core of everything in the series is love — love between godparents and their godchildren, love between friends, and a love that is very much like family.

And now, bonus points:
  • "Ruth doesn't like me?" "She sees you more as a dim-witted raccoon." 
  • I love that Schmidt tells the story of how the gang met Prince to Ruth — and that he still sticks with the story that he jumped over the hedge, rather than fell from the tree.
  • "Look at us: the unbreakable Kim and Schmidt!" "God, I forgot how much I despise you."
  • "Does he have a small group of white friends like me?"
  • "What you are is the human equivalent of the crack between two couch cushions."
  • I love Ruth going full-on armadillo.
  • "You ruined it." "Your face ruined it! You're a dumb raccoon."


WELCOME TO THE EPISODE. You know, the one we've been waiting seven years for. If you're like me, you've shipped Nick and Jess from the first few moments of the pilot. And if you're like me (or are me), then you found "Mario" to be a satisfying, wonderful full circle moment for these two characters. But I'm getting ahead of myself, I think. Let's talk about all of the characters in the episode, and how they've managed to grow up in the last seven years and find themselves in their own full circle moments.

I'll start with people other than Nick and Jess, because I want to spend the bulk of our review discussing their journey. Let's start off with Winston then. This is the episode that Winston finally gets to see color! If you recall, we found out in season three that Winston was colorblind, and since then the show has occasionally brought this back up for the sake of a joke. But with new technology available that allows people to see color, it makes sense the show would integrate that into Winston's story. He gets glasses from a local university for a limited period of time and uses them to see all the things he's missed out on. Mostly there's little significance to the story (it ends with Winston taking the glasses off and telling Aly that he just wants to see her face with his own eyes), but it allows Lamorne Morris to do some hilarious comedic work, including expressing hatred for certain colors and shock over his patterned shirts.

The other smaller story in the episode is that of Schmidt and Cece finally having a night out to themselves to enjoy one another. But when Cece excitedly mentions that she's ovulating and they can try for baby #2, Schmidt panics and ends up driving them not to the fancy hotel he reserved, but to Winston and Aly's. It's there that we learn just why Schmidt is hesitant to have another child — he doesn't know if he can go through nine more months of pregnant!Cece.

And Hannah Simone REALLY brings it, comedically, with her performance. We get to see (thanks to Aly recording the antics as evidence) just how terribly mean Cece was to everyone. But it wasn't just Cece who was unbearable. Schmidt became such a coddling, blubbering mess that even HE was unbearable. As the couple looks at their behavior, both seem to be sobered by it. And for a moment, we think that maybe they won't try for another kid.

But it's Schmidt and Cece, so of course they do. They vow that they'll be better this time around, but even if that doesn't happen (and let's be honest, it probably won't), they want a family more than they don't want to deal with each other's bad habits. And I think that's sweet.

Now, let's dive into the meat of the episode: Nick and Jess! It's approached our one-month mark in-series for Nick to propose, lest Bob Day's blessing expire. So Nick plans to propose that night, ensuring everything is perfect. Unbeknownst to him, Jess also has plans for the couple that evening — adopting a dog! Apparently two years ago, Nick and Jess tried to adopt a dog but Jess got a little emotionally invested (you remember her sobbing at the puppy in a cup in season two right?), and scared off the woman handling adoptions. Now, Jess has practiced remaining calm in the face of such cuteness and asks Nick to help her prepare for the home visit the adoption lady scheduled. Nick is hesitant because he's trying his hardest to get them out the door and over to Beso (where they had their first date in, you guessed it, "First Date"). When he can't, he pushes back the reservation — much to Bob Day's chagrin, who keeps calling his future son-in-law to pester him about the proposal plan.

Everything goes well during the home visit — Jess keeps it together and only breaks down into cute animal talk when she's alone with Nick. There are only a few questions left to answer, and when they get asked who would care for the dog, should they break up, Nick answers that he would. This sends Jess into a mini-spiral, confronting Nick about whether he plans for them to break up. He's insistent that he just responded without thinking and never wants them to break up, but Jess is already too upset to be reasoned with and even more upset when they get rejected from adopting the cute little dog, Mario.

As they follow adoption lady to the car, Mario escapes and Nick and Jess (and Schmidt and Cece, who were at the loft to have some alone/baby-making time) chase him down to a park. Winston and Aly are there, watching Dirty Dancing when they notice their friends (and a dog) running amok. Finally, Nick catches Mario and holds him while he and Jess chastise the dog for being such a mess of emotions.

And then... it happens. Jess begins to slowly put the pieces together as to why Nick was rushing her to dinner, and why he's been so nervous all night. Nick is clearly a bit upset by how wrong the whole plan went, but Jess corrects him with the sweetest and most beautiful assurance: the proposal is perfect — because it's not perfect. It's just like them, and it would be absurd to think that their story would have that perfect neat little bow when it's taken them messing up to get to each other.

So Nick gets down on his knee, and asks Jess to marry him. She tells him how she wants a future with him — a future filled with kids and adventures and Mario and laughter. And as she says "yes," Dirty Dancing begins to play the "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" scene.

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Remember how that was Jess' go-to break-up movie? Remember how in the pilot episode, we saw her watch it on repeat, totally distraught? And then at the end of that episode, Nick is the one to rush Schmidt and Coach to the restaurant where they begin to sing to her. Dirty Dancing makes a reprise in "Big News," when Jess cries on the couch after her break-up with Nick. But now? Now we have a beautiful, lovely, perfect full circle moment — the movie that once represented the sting of loss now represents the hope of a future with the love of her life.

I've shipped Nick and Jess for seven years. Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel's incredible and fun chemistry made me care about them before the producers and writers ever thought them a possibility. But I knew, in my heart, they'd be endgame. Why? Because they always find a way back to each other. Whether he's chasing after her to comfort her during the loss of her job, or she's looking out for him in Chicago, Nick and Jess can't help but be there for each other. They're best friends, soulmates, and the perfect balancing act.

I've had the time of my life rooting for these two (even though sometimes it's been frustrating, I'll admit), and I can't wait to see how their story concludes in the two-part series finale of New Girl next week.

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And now, bonus points:
  • I love that the episode opens with the boys hanging out together and the girls hanging out together, while the dialogue carries over from each scene. It's delightful writing.
  • "They said my enthusiasm for Harriet bordered on... madness." "I can see that."
  • "Everything's funny when you put an old man in it. ... Except the ground..." I missed that line the first time watching this screener and found myself cackling during it.
  • Pregnant Cece flashbacks had me DYING. Hannah Simone absolutely nailed those scenes and I could not stop laughing.
  • I love the numerous callbacks in this episode to Nick and Jess' story: Bob Day hating Nick, the place they had their first date, back sweat, and Dirty Dancing.
That's it, folks! I mean, we still have two episodes left in the series but this review marks the last of the screeners I've seen. I'm going into the series finale knowing just as much as you all, and I'm kind of excited about it. 


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