Episode 11: Santa
By: Carlos Uribe
New Girl is a show about Jess and her three best friends (Winston, Nick, and Schmidt)
It's Christmas season which means going to Christmas parties. Since the characters are going to be visiting their families for the holiday, they decide to go as many parties as possible for just one night. Jess is the one who suggests they do this because she doesn't want to spend the night by herself with the urge to call Sam. It just so happens that the first party they show up to is one where Sam is currently attending. Jess tries her best to avoid him by fleeing the party. It comes as a big surprise when he turns up at the second party and Jess isn't able to escape him so easily. This is because Sam believes he has made a mistake and he's trying to win her back. He had attended the first party solely because he knew that Jess was going to be there. He followed her to the second party to prove that he has changed his mind about her. He's not able to convince her because she doesn't believe him. She had opened her heart up to him and he had crushed it. It isn't until after the third party they go to that she gets pulled over by a cop that resembles a black Santa Clause. When this cop tells her that sometimes people just tell the truth, it gives Jess the ability to trust Sam that he's being honest when he states that he's willing to be in a serious relationship with her. Jess rushes back to the hospital and forces her way in. The two are back together and it looks like they're going to be taking it more seriously than last time. This is an interesting development for the series to take. The main plot is good and it makes sense that Jess wouldn't want to go back to a guy that had crushed her heart. It manages to remain funny. The biggest strength of the episode is that this plot was dominant throughout the episode but it was only allowed to overshadow what was happening with the rest of the characters until the very end.
One of the two reasons this works is because of Nick's plot with Angie. Angie is a stripper who isn't afraid of anything. Nick is a character who is terrified of life. He's afraid of putting himself out there and participating. It's become a character trait that this show has been challenging throughout the season. It should come as no surprise that the major conflict that comes up between them is their different nature. Nick is trying to prove that he can handle Angie by pretending that he's not bothered with doing risky behavior in public. This all backfires on him when they try to have sex in the sleigh and people catch them. Angie isn't ashamed as her first response is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Nick's response is to flee and scream about how this is his nightmare. They are both attracting attention towards each other but for different reasons. Angie because she's trying to make the situation better and Nick because he's trying to make it disappear. That entire sequence does lead to a fight scene but Nick is able to apologize when he admits that he's simply afraid of her. He faces his fear by doing a public “sexy” dance before failing at giving her a lap dance. The two end up being on a good state where they are better able to understand each other. This is all resolved before Jess gets pulled over in the car and her problems take over the episode. Since the entire plot was arced, without being rushed, before that happened then it allowed the show to get away with it. The plot itself was nice as it highlighted the differences between Angie and Nick while showing how much character growth he has gone through in order to be with her. It's hard to imagine him trying to give anyone a lap dance from when we first met him. That's really Angie's purpose as a character: to draw Nick out of his comfort zone and therefore making him grow further.
The other reason is Cece and Schmidt. Schmidt has put himself out there by telling Cece that he loved her and she turned him down. Schmidt might have grown up enough to realize what love is but he hasn't matured to the point where he takes this break-up as an adult. He acts like he can barely stand to be around Cece. When Cece tries to give him a gift, he goes as far as to give it to someone else without opening it while she's still right there. This action goes a bit far but he reveals at the end of the episode that he actually didn't give it away. He's wearing the bracelet that she had given him. He's just trying to punish her for breaking his heart. They do manage to resolve their differences and the two go back to being friends. Once again, this is all properly arced and resolved by the time that Jess gets pulled over by the cop. This plot not only allows them to be friendly for the sake of future episodes but it does so in a funny way. It almost skirts the line into making Schmidt unlikeable when he pretends to give away his present but they manage to pull it back at the very end. Overall, the two might not be back together but at least they're back to being friendly.
Santa is a great Christmas episode of New Girl. It has a structure where it follows the three parties they go to. The opening structure sets up this dilemma but it also plants the idea for most of the plot arcs. Jess references how she doesn't want to call Sam, Winston gets a cranberry stuck in his ear, and Nick brings up his stripper girlfriend and how he's cool with it. The first party is where the plots are largely introduced: Jess sees Sam and Angie proposes to have sex in the middle of the party with Nick. The second party is where Sam tells Jess what he wants while Nick and Angie do try to have sex but then have a fight as a result of it. Winston's plot is resolved at this point. The third party is where Nick and Jess talk about their issues before Nick resolves his. Schmidt's plot arc likewise goes from the first party to the third party. This party structure allows the plots of all characters to properly develop without rushing them and it's what helps the episode completely focus on Jess at the end. The episode is funny, it's sweet, and it ends this year on a strong note.