As much as I’ve praised New Girl in the past for the delicate way it has figured out the Nick and Jess relationship, it also deserves credit for the equally difficult problem of Schmidt. He started out the series being characterized as a douche and throughout these three seasons, he’s only further proven his douchiness, yet he’s still incredibly likable. Somehow the New Girl writers have given Schmidt two girlfriends and handled it in a way where he doesn’t come off as the villain and as just the worst scumbag possible. Schmidt may think of himself as Don Draper, even turning his office into a miniature version of Draper’s, but thanks to the writers, he’s less antihero and more of a misunderstood guy who cares too much.
Schmidt’s transgressions finally come to light in “Double Date,” as Schmidt admits his love triangle to Nick, not long after a double date has been set up for later that night. Well, double date +1 with Winston. This season Winston is getting more insane, but he still remains hilarious. First he was excited about doing puzzles by himself, then he stole Ferguson the cat, now he’s ready to split pasta and coffee with Ferguson and work his way into the double dates of his friends. To earn his place in the date, he offers to get a reservation at a restaurant with a seven-week waitlist. Winston hangs out at a community table, making the other solo diners disperse in a way that would make Mr. Bean proud so that later that night his friends can all dine with him. No more pasta nights alone with Ferguson!
Since Nick is the worst keeper-of-secrets, Jess immediately finds out about Schmidt’s cheating ways, demanding that he finally tell Cece. This leads to the two couples racing to the restaurant where Schmidt waits. When they all get there, Schmidt makes a heartfelt apology to Cece, but the damage is done. Later that night, Elizabeth also arrives at the apartment, with a pie in hand to throw in Schmidt’s face. The triangle is now over; make room for Schmidt at the community table.
Schmidt sees Nick and Jess as responsible for his new solitude, so he promises to break them up when they least expect it. Or maybe when they most expect it. Or maybe when they’re watching What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Who knows?
It seems very unlikely that Schmidt will succeed in making the both of them as sad and lonely as he is. I mean, they’re maybe the only two people willing to admit that they think horses come from outer space. That’s love.
“Double Date” starts off hilariously, mostly from the antics of Winston and some very weird “romantic” moments between Nick and Jess, but as the episode progresses, it also becomes less humorous and more serious, even though it still tries to do both. Schmidt and Cece’s emotional confrontation is heartbreaking, especially since both sides can be understood, but I’m not sure Elizabeth’s breakup deserved to be a pie to the face. Elizabeth has just as much to lose by following this relationship as Cece—maybe even more when you consider her romantic entanglements with Schmidt have lasted longer—and she should get more than the few moments she gets.
“Double Date” may have some balance issues, but it does have great laughs and emotional moments that needed to happen for far too long. Plus it propels Schmidt into a situation where he can truly let his douche flag fly, while also trying to fix his own issues, which should lead to some very interesting moments in apartment 4D.