“Halloween” is less impressive as a Halloween episode of New Girl and more impressive in what it does to further the show as it continues into the second season. It’s of course fun to see Jess looking like a zombified Woody Allen or the puntastic Bee Arthur costume for Nick, but most of the cast members take steps into directions that will lead their relationships hopefully for the next few episodes to come.
Nick gets the short end of the stick this time, but given that the show has given us a strong collection of Nick episodes in the last few weeks, it’s enough to tide the audience over. There hasn’t been much focus on the romantic entanglements of the cast for a few episodes, so “Halloween” helps clarify where everyone stands. Jess is still seeing her friend-with-benefits Sam, but when she visits him at his pediatrician’s office, she sees another side to him and starts to have feelings for him. Winston and Shelby are still in their rut, having not had sex for a while and as Schmidt puts it, Shelby is just Winston’s friend he buys meals for. Schmidt is still trying to break up the unusual relationship of Cece and Robby, who is the Raphael Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle to Cece’s angel.
Nick’s relationship is like most of Nick’s: one episode and done. His crush from college Amelia has come to visit, so Nick wants to make his move. Nick’s barely brought her bags in and had the opportunity to point out that many scenes from Beverly Hills Chihuahua were shot nearby, before they kiss and end up in bed listening to some post-sex Sheryl Crow. It doesn’t take long before Nick realizes she’s a terrible kisser and makes fun of her, leading her to storm off.
Jess has taken another new job at a haunted house. Nick, who is terrified of haunted houses, tries to go warn Jess that Sam has other ladies he’s seeing, but instead ends up punching Jess in the face when she jumps out at him. Recovering from the punch, Jess tells Sam how she feels, thus ending their arrangement. Winston ends it with Shelby, which is probably good since Shelby has been an almost non-entity for quite some time now. Schmidt calls a truce with Robby, after trying to headbutt him several times, saying that they should try to be friends and maybe hang out together the three of them.
This makes for the first time since early in the first season that all four cast members are completely single. This is like a fresh start as we get into the middle of the second season. However whenever the show focuses on the relationships with the main character’s love interests, it always stumbles a bit. Shelby, Sam and Robby are rarely ever characters, so catching up with them is never as strong as just focusing on the core group. Nevertheless, episodes like this are a necessary evil to continue the story.
That’s not to say “Halloween” isn’t an enjoyable episode; it just feels more like a conclusion to an early chapter for these characters so they can move forward. It also lays on some of the metaphors particularly thick, like when Nick compares relationships to haunted houses. And please, can Jess find herself a new job? I know it’s fun to see her in different costumes and careers, but at this point, I won’t be surprised if we see her dressed as the Easter Bunny in April.
“Halloween” is more about cleaning house than it is about haunted houses, an episode that sets up for the future rather than being as hilarious as some of the more recent episodes have been. Not every episode has to be Nick throwing Pop Tarts into the gaping mouth of Fat Schmidt, nor should it be, but let us hope that “Halloween” allows New Girl more great opportunities with these characters, focusing on the group that matters over side relationships.