It’s insane to think that the kiss that started the awkward turn in Jess and Nick’s relationship happened over two months ago. Even though it’s been seven episodes since “Cooler,” New Girl hasn’t allowed the uncertainty of what this new pairing is doing to feel too dragged out yet. The question is no longer “do they like each other?” but “what do we do about this?” In “First Date,” Nick and Jess are even indecisive about what they are doing while they are in the middle of what might be their first date.
After having another heartfelt one-sided discussion with his life coach Tran, Nick decides to ask out Jess finally. (Side note: there should be at least one season three episode that consists solely of Nick talking to the unresponsive Tran) But when this proposal leaves the nervous Nick calling Jess his “toilet sister” then just saying “food?” with a double-thumbs up, it’s hard for Jess to know what’s going on. Her first indication that this is more than just friends hanging out is that Nick has borrowed clothes from Schmidt, gotten shaved by Winston and taken her to a restaurant so nice that the only man that Nick and Jess ever loved, Fancyman Russell, eats there.
As the night goes on and the drinks are flowing, the two can’t decide whether they are on a date or not, until after they constantly annoy Russell, he asks them what they are. Both of them write their expectations for each other on a piece of paper and when Russell sees the answers, decides not to share the findings. By the end of the night, it still isn’t clear what they hope for in each other, but it’s still very clear that there is an attraction there that will hopefully be figured out by the quickly approaching season finale.
The dates/not-dates between Jess and Nick are clumsy, and necessarily so, but it does still feel like a way to prolong this couple from just happening already. So far New Girl has handled this budding romance quite well, much better than expected, but it’s not the sort of relationship that needs to be dragged out for too long. Yes, it’s hilarious to watch Nick fumble his words and be incredibly uncomfortable, but we don’t need another “will they/won’t they” situation, even though it does seem like New Girl is smart enough not to go fully down that road.
Winston and Schmidt are once again on their own adventure together. Realizing that Nick is the glue to their friendship, they try to sabotage Nick’s date with Jess by getting Outside Dave, played excellently once again by Steve Agee, to sing George Michael shirtless to them at the restaurant. OD ends up locking himself in the loft bathroom, using Schmidt’s hair pomade and eventually trying to shave Schmidt’s leg. But of course, as we’ve all known for months, these two don’t need Nick to have some great moments together.
Once again this week, New Girl utilizes the new pair of Schmidt and Winston in wonderful ways, such as them trying to scheme together, battle Outside Dave and fight over the sole cell phone charger in the loft that brings all four of them together. But having these two constantly rely on each other is sort of distracting from the inevitable Cece and Schmidt confrontation, which also leaves Cece mostly out of the action for the last few weeks. Cece’s wedding is happening this season, yet Schmidt’s attitude in the last two episodes could almost make us believe that he has forgotten about Cece. His relationship with her doesn’t need to be the primary motivation of his character, but it would be great to have this relationship at least alluded to since it’ll probably end up being a big part of this season’s end-game.
So far New Girl has done a fine job of balancing just the right amount of uncertainty when it comes to Nick and Jess, yet “First Date” is the first time it starts to feel like it might be dragging out a bit. It’s a big step for these two, so the fact that they are taking their time does make sense, yet with only a handful of episodes left this season, hopefully we’ll know soon if they are going to take that leap or not.