‘New Girl’ Season 2 Finale Recap: Relationship Woes and a Taylor Swift Cameo

Credit: FOX

When it comes to New Girl, there’s no such thing as a Nick and Jess cliffhanger… unlike the show’s attitude of hanging from its fingertips when it comes to Schmidt and Cece. While fans might be the most invested in Nick and Jess, the series clearly wants to keep us guessing when it comes to the fate of Schmidt and Cece. In the Season 1 finale, Nick promptly returned to his buddies in the loft after moving in with girlfriend Caroline for roughly 37 seconds. During tonight’s Season 2 finale, Nick and Jess called the whole thing off for about one minute and 37 seconds (so there was some suspense), only to wind up, once again, in each other’s arms, driving off together in bliss. 

Hey, I’m not complaining: I love Nick and Jess together. Nor would I have believed for one moment that these two would have denied their very deep feelings for each other for very long. Hell, Monica and Chandler kept their romance a secret on Friends, but they never pretended like they didn’t have something great unfolding. Hence why I always liked Monica and Chandler better than Ross and Rachel. Well, that and Ross’ hair. 

In that case, if Schmidt and Cece are the Ross and Rachel of New Girl, then we’re in trouble. Because the girl who is supposed to be the cog in their romance — the super duper awesome Elizabeth (Merrit Wever) — is the one I’m actually rooting for. That’s our Season 2 cliffhanger, folks: will Schmidt choose his down-to-Earth college girlfriend Elizabeth, or hot former flame Cece? 

Yes, that’s right, Cece is single again. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Cece didn’t go through with her nuptials to the nice-enough-but-come-on-that-wasn’t-happening Shivrang. And it wasn’t because Schmidt, Winston, and Nick tried to sabotage the whole thing (sorry, but blaring “Cotton Eyed Joe” is a bona fide wedding improver), but because these two were getting hitched for all the wrong reasons. Namely that they didn’t even love each other, and, incidentally, were still in love with other people: Schmidt and Elaine. Wait, who in the actual hell is Elaine? Why was the episode titled “Elaine’s Big Day”? We’ll get to that mess in a bit, don’t you worry. 

The episode was an incredibly manic one from the go. Jess’ camera-happy pop Bob (Rob Reiner) tried to get a group shot before they all took off for Cece’s wedding, but it was nothing short of a disaster. Nick, who Bob tried to get out of the picture (literally and figuratively), looked like he was on Miami Vice and bragged about it, so the picture wound up being of Jess, alone, in her lovely sari. 

When the gang arrived at the blessed event, Jess and Nick were all googly-eyed about being at a wedding together as a couple (they only pretended to be one in Season 1’s “Wedding”) while Schmidt and Elizabeth were in full-fledged long-term couple mode, talking about weak bladders. Everything was as it should be… until Schmidt accidentally walked into Cece’s dressing room, locked eyes with her, and decided that she has told him telepathically she doesn’t want to get married.

I mean, Schmidt is an idiot most times, but he wasn’t wrong here: Cece’s look of desperation and wanting was pretty damn obvious. He was, however, an idiot for planning a sabo (that’s sabotage, in case you didn’t know) with the world’s worst prankster, Winston. The guys invited Nick along for the shenanigans (he wanted no part, to prove to Jess that changing into a nicer suit wasn’t the only way he was maturing), which included playing Nick’s jam “Cotton Eyed Joe” over the sound system (again, how is this bad?), releasing a wild animal into the vents (Simpsons did it!) and scaring off the horse Shivrang rode in on.

It was all very, very silly, honestly. New Girl has had a stellar run with physical comedy this season, but this episode felt overwhelmed by it at times. That said, I loved Winston’s full-on crazy. The show still has no idea what to do with this poor guy, but an over-the-top Winston is infinitely better than a bland Winston.

In addition to all the slapstick, there was also a series of misunderstandings, like Jess thinking Nick was in on all the tomfoolery that was ruining her best friend’s already-doomed wedding. Crushed by her calling him “childish”, Nick decided to be, well, childish, and joins Schmidt’s evil plotting, Winston’s psychosis, and a badger named Bucky in the air ducts. THE DUCTS! 

When Schmidt revealed that Nick had no initial part in the sabo, Jess climbed up into the ducts (the ducts!) to find him. Nick, in sad sack mode, whined that he only belonged up in the ducts with Bucky and he wasn’t good enough for her. Winston, was also musing about life on Earth (the ducts can do that to you), but there was no time for answers for any of his questions… because they fell straight through the ceiling and right into Cece and Shivrang’s wedding. Yep, this episode was a full-on romantic comedy wedding. 

And just in case Nick and Jess falling from the sky, a badger on the loose, and a love triangle wasn’t enough, the bride then announced she didn’t want to get married anyway, because she was in love with another man. And Shivrang, taking on the role of perfectly amicable dumpee in the vein of Bill Pullman or Greg Kinnear, was totally okay with this. It helped that he was in love with another woman, a woman named Elaine. A woman named Elaine who was played by guest star Taylor Swift. 

Now, I admittedly was among the contingent of New Girl fans that was not psyched about the stunt casting of T-Swift, and no amount of swooning from Max Greenfield was going to change my mind. While it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I imagined (visions of Swift singing at the reception while Zooey Deschanel plucked the ukulele terrifyingly danced in my head) it was still utterly pointless and confusing. Swift was supposed to play the Shivrang’s longtime love, but there’s no way in hell these two are even close to the same age. But, hey, it’s Taylor Swift professing her love and getting the guy, so I guess that’s pretty much what I should have expected from her? Hell, she even did her surprised Taylor face for extra measure. See?!: 

Swift’s Elaine set the stage for Cece to be alone again, which set the stage for Schmidt to have to choose between her and Elizabeth. Isn’t this a no-brainer here? Are we really rooting for Cece in this scenario? Wouldn’t Schmidt professing his feelings to the ultra awesome Elizabeth only to dump her for his model ex-girlfriend at a wedding just be the meanest? It seems pretty obvious to me, but I guess not to Schmidt, who took off running when faced with who to choose. We’ll find out in Season 3, I suppose. I know it will likely wind up being Cece, as Hannah Simone is a series regular and presumably not going anywhere, but it would be daring of the New Girl writers to keep exploring this relationship of a “regular”-looking girl and a “hotter” guy and prove all the skeptics out there wrong. Lena Dunham would be so proud. 

While the fate of Schmidt and Elizabeth (please!) hangs in the balance, the unknown future of Nick and Jess was temporarily dangled in front of us. Despite their scorching hot attraction to each other, as well as those obvious feelings of love, these two were letting fear and outside forces (especially Jess’ dad Bob, who had some pretty harsh opinions of Rick, er, Nick) make them think this was all a bad idea. Jess even admitted that there was a “small part” of her that thought Nick was too much of a mess and that their blossoming relationship was a big mistake.

Note, though, she said a small part. The bigger part of her (her heart, y’all) wanted all in with Nick (he’s adorable, look at him, how could she not?). When Nick devastatingly told her that her fears were right, that their so-called relationship was only one night of passion and that “it’s not like we’re in love or anything,” a tearful Jess agreed that they tried. And with that, the pair “called it” on Nick and Jess. Even when this happened, I still didn’t believe for a second Nick and Jess wouldn’t reunite. Not just because Schmidt and Cece were clearly the cliffhanger, but because these two could barely believe the words coming out of their mouths. So how could we? It’s love: they knew it, we knew it, and the New Girl writers wisely knew it. There’s no cliffhanger when the answer is in front of you. 

When a crestfallen Nick hit the bar (if Jake Johnson doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for his continually astounding balancing act of drama and comedy this season, the system is broken) and tells a bleeding, but not broken Winston that he’s “gonna drink because that’s my move,” his friend fires back: “That was also your dad’s move.” Okay, the only person I like more than Loose Cannon Winston is Straight Shooter Winston (I feel pretty bad for Bleeding Out From a Badger Bite Winston).

Nick knew Winnie was right when he told him “when things get messy you run away,” so instead of running away, he ran right for Jess. And, like something out of a damn romantic comedy, Jess begged Nick to “uncall it” and he kissed her passionately. The two then rode off into the sunset, smiling and kissing and flirting and bickering like they do. Well, the sun had already had set, but you get the point… Nick and Jess are a couple. No turning back. 

I love New Girl, I love Nick and Jess, but with a heavy heart I must say I didn’t entirely love “Elaine’s Big Day.” Maybe it was because it relied too much on physical comedy (did we really need a nut joke?) or because Nick and Jess have had far more romantic moments (the roof last week, for instance), or because I really am not a fan of Taylor Swift and we saw the Cece split coming from a mile away, but it felt a surprisingly lukewarm conclusion for a season that’s been so very hot. Still, I’ll go to bat any day in my declaration that New Girl is the best comedy on television right now (because it really is). But the show is smarter than the finale gave it credit for. 

That said, I’m still excited to see what Season 3 will offer, even if it doesn’t bring Schmidt and Elizabeth together. (Sigh.) I continue to hope for good things for Winston (the very talented Lamorne Morris deserves it) and honestly, I can’t wait to see how Nick and Jess fall deeper in love and challenge each other. I’ll take that over the will-they-won’t-they trope any day. The Season 2 finale wasn’t perfect (neither was the whole season, for that matter, considering the shaky start it had). But overall, New Girl has been sexy, sweet, and so, so sharp. 

Here are the best lines and moments from the New Girl Season 2 finale “Elaine’s Big Day”: 

– “Miami Vice called and this time, I answered!”- Nick
– Schmidt’s theory that you can only truly know a person when you’ve “peered into their soul at the exact moment of fulfillment.” Jar!
– Jess’ threat and promise “to bust” Nick hard after the wedding. You know that’s right.
– Nick proves he’s a grown-up by “wearing deodorant under both arms” and fitting into Schmidt’s worst suit.
– “Was I?!” – Schmidt, again and again and again, to Jess. (He was).  
– Nick playing air fiddle to “Cotton Eyed Joe.”
– Nick screaming in the air ducts. Nick’s screams are seriously one of the highlights of Season 2.
– “Sometimes I feel like I never really felt love, you know?” We know, Winnie.
– “I don’t think the badger is actually rabid, I think he’s kind of a dick.” – Jess, on Bucky. 
– Schmidt’s proposal to postpone making a decision between Cece and Elizabeth by “making some pasta and really listening to” his Coldplay bootleg.
– “Can you call an ambulance? I’m about to bleed out. Thanks, man!” – Winston, to the bartender. (Wait, Winston isn’t going to be dead by Season 3, is he?!)  
– “Where did you come from? Where do we go?” – Nick, to Jess as they start their next adventure in life together. Sigh. Swoon. All of the above.  

See you next season! 

Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran

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