In the penultimate episode of New Girl
's first season, Nick and Jess each "backslide" into hooking up with their former exes. At first it seems Nick has managed to turn his backsliding into something productive, while Jess "can't even backslide right," but ultimately Jess emerges from her backwards step with an epiphany and it seems Nick is still stuck in his insecure ways. Meanwhile, Schmidt and Cece try to navigate their declared emotions without turning Schmidt on (a very difficult task) and Winston wears an array of ridiculous earrings.
Jess' Backslide: The Genzlinger
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Regretting her break-up with Mr. Perfect (aka Russell), Jess backslides and calls her ex before Russell, Paul Genzlinger (guest star Justin Long). After a one-night stand with essentially the male version of herself, Jess visits Paul at school (he's a teacher too) to talk things over - only to discover that she was the "other woman," as Paul was getting ready to propose to his girlfriend Jenn (the Asian version of Jess) but freaked out and ended up sleeping with Jess instead. Paul can't handle his regret and starts crying, which doesn't help Jess ("you are literally the ugliest crier I have ever seen"). Eventually she realizes she has to patch things up between her backslide ex and his girlfriend, and despite Paul's repeated referencing to their "dark" night together, Jess manages to propose (on Paul's behalf) and unite the couple back together.
Nick's Backslide: Caroline the B*tch (Not a Summer's Day)
Nick and Caroline (the ex who abused him "physically, mentally and emotionally" for years) seem to be getting along, despite Winston and Schmidt's misgivings, and when Caroline suggests they move in together, Nick passively agrees. When his roommates learn of the news, they initiate their emergency call (a hilarious scene in which Winston emits a bird-like shrill, causing Schmidt to rush out of his room cawing in response) and peg Nick to the couch and force him to watch the DVD his old, broken-hearted self made after being ruined by Caroline. But despite showing his future self the jar of tears he's collected and reciting a hateful poem about Caroline, present-day Nick isn't swayed, claiming the Caroline now is different.
Nick and Jess Come to Different Conclusions
Ultimately, Jess' witnessing (and conducting) a proposal between her ex and his soul mate opens her eyes to what she wants in a relationship - and how she and Nick (the backsliders) don't have to settle just because they're lonely. She rushes to tell Nick her revelation, but after she declares "you deserve something amazing and you deserve love" to convince him he doesn't need to be with Caroline, he stoically tells her they signed the lease for their new apartment that morning.
While the episode was full of running jokes and lighter moments (like everyone ragging on Winston's newly pierced ear: "Captain Black Sparrow"; "Mr. T called - he wants to punch you because that earring looks stupid," and Schmidt fainting from emotional intimacy), the focus was definitely on Nick and Jess and their continued struggle to see eye to eye when it comes to relationships
(and how that relationship should be between the two of them, as is so painfully evident).
We all know Nick and Jess would be the perfect pair (she even uses a Tom Waits voice to mimic the voice of loneliness in his head - it's just so meant to be!) - but when will it happen? With the finale
next week, it doesn't seem likely to happen this season - but we can only hope Nick doesn't follow through with his plans to move out and effectively ruin their chances of happiness (together).
(Image courtesy of FOX)