Episode 21: First Date
By: Carlos Uribe
New Girl is a show about Jess and her three best friends (Winston, Nick, and Schmidt)
Cooler was an episode that marked a huge shift for New Girl as Jess and Nick kissed. The episodes after that dealt with the consequences but First Date takes it a step farther. Nick likes Jess. He can't deny it. It gets so bad that he actually touches her boobs. He decides to take it to the next level after talking to his wise Asian friend. He's going to ask Jess out on a date. Only when he asks her, it's right after she's taken a shower. She's wearing nothing but a towel. He does get her to agree to have dinner with him but he forgets to make it clear he was asking her out. He wears a nice suit and makes a reservation at a nice restaurant. When he shows up, he's confused at why Jess is at a nearby taco stand. It becomes clear to him when they sit down and Jess asks if this is a date. Nick instantly backs down because he doesn't want to admit that they were on a separate page. It doesn't help that Russell shows up the restaurant. He seems to give his blessing to the idea of them getting together but the two aren't on a proper date anymore. The two decide that they're just going to drink which basically becomes their second first date. The two get drunk and decide that they are going to have dinner together. This time the two decide it's going to be a date. They get their table back and order food only to have Russell say something that they don't know what he means. They try to get him to explain himself so he decides to try and exercise. He has them right down what they think they are. Are they in love? Are they going to be dating now? Is this just a one-night stand for them? He's asking them to deny who they are to see if they're on the same page. Only when he gets the answers, Russell decides that he's not going to reveal them. He leaves with them which forces Nick and Jess to actually communicate what they feel for each other. This is difficult to do so the episode ends with the two of them going into their rooms even as their unresolved sexual tension threatens to overwhelm them.
It's a pretty good question to ask what exactly they are. Cooler set off a string of episodes where their kiss permanently affected their group dynamic. They couldn't forget about it and it's been dominating their scenes together. There was a brief break when Nick's father died but there's no doubt that the events of Cooler led directly to this episode. That was an episode that dealt with the question of “will-they-won't-they” but First Date shifts the question to what exactly they are. I have a feeling that this is a question that's going to carry on over the last three episodes-an arc to close out a spectacular second season. The way that the question is executed is very good as well. Nick happens to ask Jess just at the wrong time-when she's in her bathrobe. Just about everything at the restaurant scene is executed perfectly. The two of them aren't on the same page on the date at first. The way the two of them are able to connect even as they relay to confront their feelings for each other is some skillful writing. It helps that the chemistry between Zoey Deschanel and Jakes Johnson is superb. If there was an award for chemistry between two actors then they would deserve it. I really want them to have sex with other already, damn it! The way the show used the character of Russell was pretty smart. He starts out as an observer before becoming an active participant. He holds the answers that could bring them together or keep them apart but he picks to force them to communicate with each other. First Date decides to ask just what exactly they are in the best possible manner.
Jess and Nick might be trying to figure out what they are but Schmidt and Winston also have to deal with the possibility they might lose him to Jess. They panic because they think that he's the glue that holds them together. This is because all of their stories begin and end with Nick. It even hammers this point home. When the two of them first meet, Schmidt can't help but call out for Nick when he steps out of the room. They might be best friends now but they think they need Nick. So they decide to sabotage Nick's date with Jess. They settle on using a homeless guy to take off his shirt and sing for them. The idea is that this would gross the two out so they would never see the other as sexually appealing. It makes sense but it falls apart when the homeless guy decides to abuse his access to their bathroom. The two have to find a way to kick him out without calling on Nick. When they manage to do this, the two are happy that they finally have a story that doesn't end with Nick. They manage to prove that they don't need Nick to have goofy adventures or be best friends. It's a bit ironic that in setting out to prove that they need Nick to remain friends they end up proving that they actually don't. This is crucial so that they could eventually accept them as a couple. They might act as an obstacle at first but at least they can be won over since their friendship with each other isn't going to be perceived at stake anymore.
First Date is a pretty great episode of New Girl. Jess and Nick go on their first date only it confuses the situation because they don't know what they are. They don't even know how they feel for each other. They might not have any answer at the end of the episode but I still think it was a step forward in their relationship. For one thing, the question has now been asked. It's also a step forward in a way that doesn't relate to them. Schmidt and Winston come to realize that they don't need Nick to stay friends. This will plant a seed for them to accept when Jess and Nick to finally move to the stage where they're actually dating.