The only thing more awkward than the moments after sharing a life-altering, soul-shaking, passion-fueled kiss between two friends who are secretly in love with each other, is trying to figure out what's next. Just ask the writers of New Girl. They were left with the not-so-enviable task of determining where Jess and Nick go after that knee-buckling lip lock from last week.
They could have them go by the way of Chandler and Monica on Friends, and have Nick and Jess pawing at each other for more. They could have them go by the way of Jim and Pam on The Office and have a lovelorn Nick move out while Sam moves in with Jess. Or, they could have it most resemble real life and have them be really, really, awkward around each other. Sorry 'shippers hoping for more hot Jess and Nick action, the folks behind New Girl went with door no. 3.
Last night's episode, "Table 34", started off where last week's game-changing moment left off. Jess and Nick were in their respective rooms, but neither could sleep and both were freaking out in their own way. The two wound up in the hall at the same time, which caused them to freak out even more. Nick was so freaked out, in fact, that he backwards moonwalked right back into his room. Apparently, this is a patented Nick Miller move and I somehow love him even more now.
In the harsh light of day Jess tried to play it cool around Sam who, of course, was being exceedingly sweet. But since Jess is terrible at playing it cool, she hesitated in telling him about what happened in the hall with Nick just hours earlier. While she couldn't muster up the courage to tell Sam, she did get around to telling her best pal Cece about the firm, but tender kiss with Nick that transcended time and space. And then, something truly amazing happened, fellow New Girl fans: Cece made me laugh out loud for the first time, maybe ever, thanks to Hannah Simeone's perfect delivery of a surprised "Whhhhhhaaaaaaa!?"
Now, rather than just have Nick and Jess have to encounter each other in the hall of the loft again, or anywhere remotely normal for them to come to terms with their new reality, they instead thrust them, unknowingly, together at an arranged marriage convention for people of Indian descent, which they are not. Jess was there as moral support for Cece, while Nick was there because Schmidt, who was attending in yet another attempt to win Cece back, was bound to make an ass of himself.
It's sort of unfortunate that this turned out to be the locale of the big Nick and Jess post-kiss fallout scenario. The stakes didn't feel much higher, even with talk of marriage everywhere as Nick and Jess needled each other about who the kiss meant more two and denied how much it actually did mean. We didn't need Nick and Jess participating in activities like table-building to find out they're compatible. We already knew that, they already knew that. Jess didn't need to be at that convention to finally getting around to confessing to Sam, which she did, and Sam certainly didn't need to hit Nick in the chest (who had already been hit in the nuts by a ticked-off Winston after he found out about the kiss) or break up with her there, either. If anything, the setting of the big moment took away from the impact.
Still, Sam and Jess needed to break up no matter where and when it happened. Not just because of what happened with Nick, but because Sam has been as inconsistent a boyfriend as he has been a character. He started off as a clueless goon sex god, then turned into a non-committal jerk, then turned into a sweet, sensitive doctor boyfriend, and then back to being a jerk again for dumping Jess despite the fact that she not only apologized, but wasn't in the wrong. I say this not as a Nick fan, but a Jess supporter: Sayonara Dr. Sam. (That said, I will be sad to see David Walton go.)
Of course, Jess was still crushed by being dumped by Sam and back at the loft Nick tried desperately to cheer her up by dancing terribly to Taylor Swift and cracking jokes. It was the post-kiss fallout scene that should have happened from the start. Nick gloated about being a home wrecker and Jess looked on like sad Bambi. They went back and forth, as Nick and Jess do. Jess said she was still mad at Nick, but let's face it, probably not for very long. Nick, under the previous advisement of Future Nick, apologized to her, but I doubt it will be the last one.
Then, right as they said goodnight to each other, Nick moved in closer, with a familiar look on his face and gave Jess….a hug. It was awkward and certainly unsexy, and as Nick declared, things were "back to normal." By which he also meant, we're back to the norm of dangling the possibility of Nick and Jess as a couple in front of us. Sigh.
While Nick and Jess are still a question mark, Schmidt and Cece are just delaying the inevitable. Now, it made sense for those two to be at the arranged marriage gathering, because the stakes were most certainly high for both of them. Cece discovered she was at the bottom of the societal totem pole (which, even if she was, there's no way she wouldn't have been getting hit on before Schmidt made his big speech), while Schmidt figured out maybe the best way to winning her back was to set her free.
You know what, scratch all that. Because by the end of the night, Schmidt — who spent the episode in traditional Indian garb and coming up with as many Indian puns and insults as possible, including "I will Calcut-a bitch up in here" and the fact that "Yes, please, samosa" was one of his few talking points— and Cece still wound up in bed together. The problem here is (aside from Schmidt still evolving more and more into a full-fledged douchebag instead of an amusing one) is that fans are still way too hung up on Nick and Jess to really root for this.
Between the reunion of Schmidt and Cece and the awkward back pedaling (or back moonwalking, more fittingly) and the fact that poor Winston, despite getting his mojo back, was still reduced to a crappy side plot where he was getting hit on by a horny older lady. Yeah, I'd say things are back to normal alright, but dammit, I still wanted to be in the honeymoon phase just a little bit longer.
Here are some of the best moments and lines from the amusing, if not slightly disappointing and also slightly racially insensitive (why do they keep doing that?) episode of New Girl, "Table 34":
- Nick breaking things that one shouldn't even be able to break, like a scarf while it's being knitted.
- Schmidt being described as both "the fortune teller in Big" and "a character from The Love Guru."
- Nick getting punched in the nuts by Winston. Childish? Perhaps. Jake Johnson's reaction? Damn funny.
- Schmidt's romantic declaration to Cece: "I'm a squirrel, you're my nut. Winter's coming, I'm gonna store you in my cheek, girl."
- Nick's flirty, accusatory twirly finger thing.
- "It was like a damn fairytale, that kiss." True story, Nick Miller.
- Nick's "catnip" are pink robes. ("You can't go tarting around in that soft pink robe not expecting to be kissed!")
- "Oh my God, he's in such terrible shape, you could have killed him!" - Jess to Sam, after he knocked Nick to the floor.
- Schmidt thanking the people of India for "Kal Penn, he's a genius."
- The inevitable Schmidt-dropping-the-mic gif.
- Schmidt getting Cece to go "home with a Jew in a turban" even though she claims she's still going to be marry an Indian guy. Bonus sexy fun: a seductive magic carpet ride dance.
[Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/Fox]