I could write hundreds of words about my frustrations with “Mars Landing” – how Nick and Jess’s conflict springs up out of nowhere, how the show tunnels them both into making the mutual decision to end their relationship, and so on and so forth.
But on some level , there was some authenticity to the dissonance the episode creates between them, fundamental differences that, when brought to light in the (kind of exploitative) design of “Mars Landing”, could lead to where Nick and Jess end up at the end of the episode. At the very least, I was interested to see where New Girl took things in the last four episodes after it undercut the foundation it had been meticulously laying for itself for over a year – and if “Big News” is any sign of what is to come, it’s a pretty promising one.
That seems like a vague declaration to make, especially given that “Big News” is pretty preoccupied with the Nick/Jess break-up – but as New Girl has proved time and time again in the last two seasons, it doesn’t shy away from the emotional complexities of the human condition, embracing the awkwardness and unpredictability that comes with being naive to the chaos of life.
With Nick and Jess, “Big News” handles this really, really well. Living with someone you just broke up with is really, really difficult (trust me: I’ve been there, without the buffer zone of other roommates), and initially, the easiest way to deal with it all is plain ignorance. Nick telling Jess that things “are ok” and agreeing to hide it from their friends allows them to play out the facade a bit longer (albeit one that doesn’t spend anytime in Boob Town anymore, unfortunately), attempting to guard themselves from the difficulties they’re already starting to deal with (Nick looking at Jess’s bed on the floor next to his mattress is a great, quiet example of this).
But no matter how much alcohol or Schmiddy’s Little Helpers one takes, these problems won’t go away. Not even in the face of happy events of other people’s lives – it’s not just a meta reference to “Winston’s Birthday” that Nick and Jess’s relationship overshadows something in his life (back in that episode, his birthday was the day after Nick and Jess had sex for the first time). In the face of something so unexpected and personally devastating, it’s hard to focus on those events: and as Winston’s Honey Roast (“How cute am I, Nick?”) falls apart, so do Nick and Jess.
What makes “Big News” so strong are not the intoxication-induced jokes (something that’s become a bit of an honesty crutch for New Girl this season, though it often works to great effect), but in how the story resolves the inherent lack of resolution in their breakup. The episode closes with Nick and Jess going through their normal break-up routines together, Nick in his room drinking, listening to Jess in the living room watching Dirty Dancing and crying (a callback to the show’s pilot). Nick calls her, and they have a conversation about which Patrick Swayze (Road House or Dirty Dancing) would kick the other’s ass. It ends the episode on a somber, but ultimately hopeful note, a reminder that there’s no hatred or resentment hanging between these two, just sadness over the (seemingly) irreconcilable differences that pushed them apart.
I know that doesn’t sound very hopeful, but in those final moments, New Girl lays the foundation and argues that these two love either too much to stay apart. Breaking them up allows them to find a bit of perspective on their approaches to life; and although New Girl may never allow the dichotomy in their ideals (which boils down to planning life vs. not, something “Mars Landing” doesn’t make the best argument as a “real” issue) to be resolved, the end of “Big News” at least acknowledges that there’s a fundamental connection between the two that will always exist. “Love” doesn’t always lead to a happy ending – and if it doesn’t for Nick and Jess, I’m glad New Girl isn’t destroying what they already share in the process.
– Winston’s prominent chair was hilarious, as was Jess as Ferguson. “I’m drinking a pinot mooir… a meowrrr.”
– Only reason this didn’t get an A? As New Girl‘s focused more and more on Nick and Jess, it hasn’t found a lot of purpose for its other characters. Everything in “Big News” suggest things for other characters, without actually exploring them in any interesting way (like CeCe getting her GED, a random plot point that connects to CeCe’s vague journey of post-model life, something New Girl hasn’t dug its teeth into at all).
– the expanding Jess-watches-Coach-watch-Winston cutaway was the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.
– Damon Wayans Jr. is killing the few jokes he’s given in each episode recently: “I still read her letters errr’day.” “I JUST WANT THE PAIN TO STOP!”
– Tran sighting!