Episode 16: Table 34
By: Carlos Uribe
New Girl is a show about Jess and her three best friends (Winston, Nick, and Schmidt)
Nick and Jess have kissed. It meant something to both of them even if they're not willing to admit it. It has the potential to change their roommate dynamic so much so that one of the might have to move out. The suggestion by Winston that it'll have to be Nick because it's terrible living with the man shows that resolving this plot peacefully has stakes for everyone involved. The show could have taken a couple of well-traveled roads. They could have started a relationship to try and see if they could work as a couple. They would more than likely fail and become one of those on-and-off television couples. The show could have alternatively had them try to forget that it ever happened. They would bury not only their feelings towards each other brought on by the kiss but the memory of the kiss itself. These are roads that shows have explored in the past simply because those two are the easiest outcomes to come up with. New Girl decides that it's going to take a choice that very few, if any, comedies have ever approached. It's going to have the characters actually talk about the kiss rather than ignore them. They don't admit their feelings towards each other because they don't fully realize that they exist but they're not going to forget about the kiss. This doesn't mean that the dynamic between these roommates is going to remain within the status quo. Nick might think that everything is back to normal but it changes things. One can't just passionately kiss someone and then move on as if it never happened. That kiss is going to affect the loft in future episodes.
The kiss does have serious and immediate repercussions. It does more than make Nick and Jess too awkward to be near the other person. One of the dilemmas that Jess faces is whether to tell Sam or not. It makes sense why she would want to keep this secret from her boyfriend but one of the character's values is her belief that a solid relationship is built on honesty. This would be a major secret to keep from him and she can't keep this from him. She does tell him but the result is that he breaks up with her. While she tries to tell Sam that the kiss meant nothing to her, Sam reveals that it did mean something to him. If the episode had one flaw it's that the breakup not only felt rushed but it didn't make much sense. It's understandable that Sam would be jealous or even feel threatened but his decision to simply leave is perplexing. It would be understandable if he thought she had kissed him but it was the other way around. It caught her completely by surprise and she didn't have any control over Nick's action. The writers simply rushed that break-up scene so it didn't have the maximum emotional impact that it should have had. The break-up does lead to a scene where Nick honestly apologizes for the kiss. They admit it exists and that it's not going to be a repressed memory. The only question is how this will affect the dynamic of the loft. The aftermath of the kiss was in the foreground of the episode but it was really a great way for the episode to secretly build up to Cece and Schmidt having sex at the end.
The two might be in love even if Cece is currently seeking an Indian man to be her husband and the father of her children. Her current dating situation is complicated since all of the men she's dating are chaste until marriage and she's horny. She decides to attend an Indian marriage convention-which is according to the Internet a real thing-and the whole gang happens to show up. Jess and Nick go because they're hoping to avoid the other, Schmidt is going to try and win over Cece by inadvertently being racially insensitive, and Winston goes because he has mojo or something. I'm actually not sure why Winston decided to go. This creates conflict for Jess and Nick as it forces them to deal with the kiss even as they deny their mutual feelings for each other despite all the hints that they would make a perfect couple. It does allow Schmidt to try his best to sabotage Cece by his constant attempts to get her attention only to meet with failure. It only isn't until Schmidt makes a speech about how it's wrong that people are ignoring Cece just because she's in the wrong table (no degree, model job) because she's a catch. Cece manages to get a lot of numbers from potential suitors but she decides to let go of her sexual frustration by sleeping with Schmidt. There is no doubt that this will lead to more drama between the two. It's pretty clever for the show to use the last episode to make us think it's all about Jess and Nick when the episode is really stolen by Cece and Schmidt.
The only plot that has significant problems is Winston. As I said, I'm not sure what he's doing at the convention and the writers simply stuck him with a silly c-plot. His confidence at getting laid really shows off and this gets the attention of the person running the convention. She wants to sleep with him but Winston isn't interested because he's committed to Brenda Song. This really begs to question why he went into a marriage conference. He finishes his plot when he finds a new person for her to sleep with that matches his physical body. It's silly but inconsequential and not as funny as the character-driven main and sub-plot.
Table 34 is a really great episode of New Girl. The main plot is pretty great and it's bold for the show to tackle the kiss head-on. The climax with Schmidt and Cece might have been building for a while and it was executed perfectly. The Winston plot might not have worked as well but it was still funny and it didn't take away from the two plots. If it had lasted a little bit longer then maybe it would have detracted from the main plot.
Highlight of the episode: Cece in general. Her long “whaaaaaaa” at the beginning was hilarious and her decision to allow
The show comments how Cece and Nick don't really think about their decisions-they just act and this hurts the people around them. This does apply to Cece but I'm not sure it really works that well with Nick. His whole character is that he doesn't like to do anything because he's a coward. On the other hand, it's not like he's scared because he's thought of the consequences so maybe it does fit him.