“New Girl” is back, and this season is likely going to focus on Nick and Jess’s attempt at a relationship. The two have had an odd flirtation and romantic tension since the beginning of the show, but it wasn’t until last season that we saw Nick and Jess hook up and sift through their complicated feelings before having a go at something substantial. (Well, as substantial as two people who have had a weird-off in their apartment hallway could have.)
Nick and Jess are both giddy with each other, and tell each other they’re “all in.” But while standing outside 4D, where all the madness happens, the implications of falling for a roommate finally hit Nick and Jess. They both decide they need time away from the others, to figure things out.
This otherwise serious discussion is punctuated by a blast of texts, and then finally by an irate and impatient Schmidt flinging the door open.(“I’m having a major crisis, and you two are just driving around, French kissing like a couple of Dutch hookers.”) Winston, whose absurdist behavior has become clutch in tying together the show’s episode storylines in a weird but sensible way, announces in nonsequitur that he’s ready to do another puzzle.
Nick and Jess panic and run away to Mexico for four days, where they camped on the beach in tattered formal wear. Flighty Jess has always had a sense of practicality on her side and is ready to face reality, but Nick’s romantic logic convinces her that “Paradise Nick” and “Paradise Jess” should stay longer and sneak into a beach resort. Eventually, after harassing a kid for his resort bracelet (“If you don’t give me your bracelet, I’m going to strangle you to death,”), Nick gets carted off to jail by the resort police.
Schmidt is facing his own “all-in” issue of choosing between Cece and Elizabeth. Since Nick is AWOL with Jess, Schmidt decides that Winston will be his best friend. Winston agrees to Schmidt’s demand as long as Schmidt promises not to lie to him. And since Schmidt lacks any kind of adult decision-making skills, he ends up telling both women that he chose them.
Winston finds himself in the middle of a ridiculous lie when he almost ruins Schmidt’s cover, when Schmidt somehow convinces Cece that Winston is a lecherous pervert who wants her panties. And thus ends the short best-friendship, especially after Schmidt dashes Winston’s dreams of completing his puzzle. As the two argue in a bizarre roundabout (Winston’s wearing a hoodie as pants), Jess bursts in and convinces them to help her rescue Nick in Mexico. After some misguided bribery, they find Nick in the hotel jail, who is still panicking about his relationship with Jess in a very Nick-ish way He tries to shred his passport, preferring to stay in Mexico rather than being forced to return home and risk losing Jess because of the complicated living situation.
“There is no ‘us’ without Schmidt and Winston,” Jess tells Nick, and this is really a meta statement about the show’s ensemble–they all add an important element to each episode, which is especially reassuring given that I’ve often whether or not the show is under-utilizing Winston (but he’s gotten some great play in recent episodes and in this one). My status as an anti-Nick-and-Jess-‘shipper aside (shoot me), this season’s off to a great start.