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By Tony LaScala · May 10, 2012
New Girl Season Finale Jumps the Shark…er Coyote.
New Girl finished season one with a lackluster episode that felt like two rushed episodes smashed into one. Perhaps like many season finales, the show’s creators knew they had to wrap up old storylines and tease us with premises for next season, hoping to get renewed. Unfortunately, the producers must not have informed the writing team that their show is the biggest smash sitcom hit since Friends’ first season in 1994.
The disjointed storylines of the finale episode sought to wrap up a few loose ends, namely the budding non-courtship between roommates Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake M. Johnson) and the semi-turbulent relationship of the quirky Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and model Cece (Hannah Simone). In season one’s conclusion Nick has made up his mind to move in with his ex-girlfriend Caroline (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) against the recommendation of the concerned Jess. After Nick freaks out and strands his friends and the moving truck in the desert, Jess drives out to rescue the marooned roommates. The New Girl gang converges on the desert and hashes out their problems while “stranded” because both Nick and Jess have tossed their keys into the sand.
My major problem with the finale was its inability to stay in tune with previous episodes. New Girl as a premise for a show in itself isn’t wholly original; what makes it successful and special is its unique voice. The animal lover in me was disappointed with the premise that Jess and Nick were “trapped” by a coyote, an animal so fearful of adult humans it would run at the slightest noise from either of them. I understand that one must “raise the stakes” in a finale, but this idea was so contrived and boring I almost hit the fast forward button on my new favorite show. There could have been any number of ways the writers could have stranded the two characters together to have their special moment; having a coyote corner them felt a hell of a lot like the moment when Fonzie so infamously “jumped the shark.”
The slightly better B storyline focused on Schmidt breaking up with Cece because he felt he wasn’t good enough for her. This storyline had much more heart than the other, but fell short because so much time had to be spent wrapping up other loose ends and setting up the premise of the episode. Of particular poor planning was the C storyline in which a new roommate moves in, played by the always hilarious, and sadly underused in this episode, Thomas Lennon. At the episode’s conclusion he “magically” doesn’t live there in order to hasten Nick’s return.
Although the episode wasn’t my fondest in this season’s run, it definitely had its moments. A particularly sweet moment closes the episode when Jess and Nick stand in their opposing doorways, silently re-connecting before each roommate retires to their respective rooms and dances alone, celebrating Nick’s triumphant return to the tune of AC/DC’s classic “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Winston (Lamorne Morris) provided a majority of the comic relief in the episode, which was a beacon of light amongst the sea of underwhelming drama.
Overall New Girl looks to have a very bright future: funny and touching cast, easily relatable storylines, and witty writing. The finale left behind a dissatisfied air in the form of an episode that truly belonged in a one-hour format. What makes New Girl great are the relationships between its characters—it doesn’t need a terrified coyote.