Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Girl

New Girl
Episode 19: Quick Hardening Caulk
By: Carlos Uribe

New Girl is a show about Jess and her three best friends (Winston, Nick, and Schmidt)

Spoilers Ahoy!

I'm going to admit something: I didn't find this episode of New Girl to be completely funny. It made me laugh but it didn't feel like the episode was putting in as many jokes as usual. That opening scene at the bar where Schmidt was trying to forget Cece by getting drunk had a few jokes but it felt like it was trying to get all the plot points up as quickly as possible. The two plots that run throughout this episode have to do with relationships. Jess has to deal with her growing sexual attraction to Nick as he starts trying at life. The reason he's started to try is revealed a bit later on: it's because he's now dating the new owner of the bar, a woman named Shane. The other plot of the episode has to do with Schmidt. He's trying to accept that Cece is going to get married. He tries drowning his sorrows and doing everything he can to get his mind off her. It is imperative to understand where he is emotionally in order to understand where the writers are taking him this episode. They are trying to set up a metaphor between Cece and a fish that isn't very subtle but they manage to make it work because they showed Schmidt's emotional state. They did this before they even went into the aquarium which helped sell this metaphor to the audience. If they had randomly started in the aquarium and tried to make the metaphor then it wouldn't have worked so well. This is an expertly plotted episode New Girl where everything is well plotted out-but it could have used a little more time to try and find ways to fit more jokes in. Developing the relationships and moving things forward is great but New Girl can't forget that it's a comedy. I'm not saying they have forgotten as the episode did get a lot funnier as it went on-but that the first half rarely made me laugh. The second half was hysterical but that doesn't excuse the lackluster beginning.

The Nick and Jess relationship is in an odd place by the end of the episode. This is all because of Nick. He didn't think Jess wanted to sleep with him so he pursued his new boss. Shane doesn't really have much of a personality but that's because she's largely there as a romantic obstacle. She's a strategically placed character but it helps that she's played by Odette Annable. Annable is a fine actress who basically sells that she's sleeping with Nick because she wants to rather than because the plot requires it. Nick doesn't know want Jess desires until she accidentally admits it while hooked up on pain medication. Nick suddenly freaks out because he wants to be with Jess but he's worried that being with Shane is going to ruin his chances. He tries his best to keep his sexual relationship with his boss a secret from Jess but he quickly fails. The episode ends with a pretty intense fight with sexual undertones. They basically keep trying to sleep with each other but they don't stop yelling. Even when they try to go to different rooms, they can't help but come back to each other. They are very much attracted to each other and they can barely control their sexual urges. To the show's credit, they dont' actually have sex. The last thing we see is them going back into their rooms but it wouldn't be a surprise if we later find out that they sealed the deal. It'll be interesting to see how this interaction shakes up their dynamic even more. We spent whole episodes dealing with the aftermath of the kiss-but to have both of them admit that they want the other? That's a whole other step in their relationship that's going to shake the New Girl universe even further. After how the writers handled the post-kiss episodes, I have every confidence they can handle the consequences.

The episode's sub-plot dealt with the aftereffects of Cece getting engaged on Schmidt. He's not happy as he gets himself drunk to try and make himself feel better. His friends are worried about him so Winston takes him to an aquarium. While there, Schmidt falls in love with a fish that reminds him of Cece. He tries everything in his power to get the fish even though it's against California law. There is never a doubt in the minds of the audience or his roommates that the fish is really a metaphor for Cece. When he describes the fish, he includes details that make it clear who he is talking about. Winston tries to help him get the fish but he fails. His friends can't give Schmidt what he wants. The only person who can is Cece as she does gift him the fish. The problem is that Winston assumes that it's best if Cece keeps her space. She's still engaged and it'll hurt Schmidt too much to see her. This makes sense as he's emotionally unraveling. That is until he actually does wake up. He decides that he's going to free the fish because he realizes the metaphor. He can't keep holding on to Cece because she doesn't belong to him. His attempt to free the fish ends up symbolizes his logic but his drastic failure signifies it's going to be tougher to let go of Cece than he thinks.

Quick Hardening Caulk is an episode that has a rough beginning but it quickly explodes in a frenzy of chaos. The ending in particular is funny. The road getting there might have been a bit rough but at least the destination was worth it. The narrative momentum has been in high gear ever since the kiss and this episode simply keeps it going. New Girl has rapidly become of my favorite comedies on the air for a reason-it's a funny show that knows it's characters and is strong enough to mess with it's own dynamic. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Other Notes:

This was an episode that did get funnier as it went along-but the beginning was too much

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