New Girl Review: "Re-Launch"/"Katie" (Episode 2.01 & 2.02)
Throughout the first half of New Girl’s first season, the show had potential but was still fumbling to succeed in the ways it should. Stories didn’t really propel the characters forward and the majority of the time, one character would be given a time-out for the week, with nothing really for them to do. Around the halfway point, New Girl found just what it needed, righting the wrongs it had made in the past, giving growth and believability to these characters and turning New Girl into one of the better sitcoms on television. Now with New Girl returning with a two-episode season premiere, the show continues its forward momentum and gives great examples as to why these four main characters are one of the best ensembles currently on TV.
The first episode “Re-Launch,” throws us right back into the unusual weirdness of Jess’ apartment, where Nick is singing Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” in the shower and Schmidt is wearing a “shower diaper” since he still hasn’t recovered from the penis-breaking incident at the end of last year. Since Schmidt’s cast is finally coming off, he’s going to have a re-branding party, one whose theme may or may not be danger, and he’s invited his urologist, Philip Seymour Hoffman, a former Crank Yankers writer and Cece. While Schmidt is getting his celebration ready, Jess is busy getting fired from her teaching job, even after two semesters of summer school, in which she taught a student named Vajrejuv and didn’t laugh once.
Schmidt has decided to have the party at Nick’s bar, and Jess volunteers to be a shot girl at the event. Nick has grown up and will no longer serve fruity drinks, much to the disappointment of Winston, who loves them. The newly fired Jess is no good as a shot girl, since she dresses in a weird outfit, calls herself Ivy and the drinks ‘firewater.’ Guest star Parker Posey knows what she is doing as the other shot girl who went to MIT but lost half her brain in an accident. When Cece arrives, with new normal-looking boyfriend Robbie, Schmidt opens up the danger and starts spinning fire that he doesn’t know how to stop. Schmidt doesn’t understand what Cece sees in Robbie, but she likes him because he’s a good guy, and she and Schmidt were always too similar.
Even though Jess starts to get a hang of the shot girl position, she doesn’t feel like herself and the loss of her job finally hits her. As she cries, Nick tells Jess to quit feeling sorry for herself, to Jess’ previous request. Nick tells her that life gets better, then it sucks, then it gets better and sucks again. If that’s not the mantra of New Girl, I don’t know what is. Instead of ending with tears, the episode closes out with Winston drinking the fruity drinks that Nick caved in and made him, as he sings “Groove Is In the Heart” at the emptying out bar.
The second, and lesser of the two episodes, “Katie,” catches up with Jess a week after getting fired. With too much time on her hands, she’s started cooking and even painted a portrait of her three roommates. Nick tells her she is now off the grid and she should start enjoying her newfound freedom. This leads Jess to start drinking at Nick’s bar at 11 in the morning and start flirting with one of the workers at the bar, Andy. She meets his friend Bearclaw, played by Josh Gad, and tells Nick to give his co-worker her number. While at the bar later, she runs into Sam, a man who confuses her for Katie, a girl he met on Cupid Match. Jess goes with it and ends up having the best night of love-making she’s ever had, where she sounded like bums fighting, her soul left her body, went to heaven and then came back and turned her into a werewolf. THAT good. But when Jess hears from Nick’s coworker, she has to deal with juggling two guys at once.
During all of these sexual exploits, Winston’s family comes to visit. Winston’s family doesn’t necessarily like Schmidt, but Schmidt likes Winston’s now-grown-up sister Alisha, who plays professional woman’s basketball. Also amongst Jess’ juggling, an older man, also named Nick, has shown up at Nick’s bar, claiming to be Nick from the future. This leads to some of the funniest moments of both episodes, as Nick confides in Schmidt, as he tries to figure out if Older Nick is just a crazy drunk or for real, and Schmidt just wants to know when he’ll finally meet Kanye.
Jess invites Nick’s co-worker to the apartment, but it turns out to be Bearclaw instead of Andy, and the two share an awkward evening before Jess tells Bearclaw she is sick. Jess then goes to meet Sam at the bar and makes out with him in the bathroom. When Bearclaw and Andy walk in, they knock down the door to save the ‘woman-in-peril’ to find Jess, disappointing all three of the men interested in her. Jess leaves, having messed up three potential relationships. But later that night, Sam shows up at her apartment, saying that he had lied to her too in his profile and that they don’t need to care about each other, they can just have fun. A relationship built on lies and no common interests should end well.
While the Old Nick has given hints and some great advice that he may actually be from the future, Nick naturally finds out he’s a crazy man with a tinfoil hat and a cardboard time machine in an alley. Finally, Schmidt plays Alisha in basketball for a date, and she immediately hits him in the face with the ball and wins.
These two episodes do a great deal to set up potential future events for these four. Jess is not only lost without a job, but she has another relationship waiting to blow up. Schmidt is on the prowl again but still harbors feelings for Cece, while Nick wants to grow up still and Winston has a more successful sister doing the job that he wants.
Also in these first two, the writing feels sharper, the characters feel more fleshed out and there seems to be more of an arc waiting for everyone, including Cece. New Girl has grown so much from the story of four quirky characters living together, into fascinating characters that compile some of the funniest actors in a sitcom currently. Already, the potential for New Girl’s second season to surpass the first seems to be almost a certainty.