It’s been a mere eight months since Jess moved in with three guys, awkwardly changing their lives and being generally “adorkable.” Since then, series creator Elizabeth Meriwether has turned the cast from caricatures into characters. New Girl started with five fun characters without much depth and by “See Ya,” we have five characters who have grown immensely, through each other and in outside relationships, to have more complex ideas and feelings. This depth, especially in this batch of episodes, has made New Girl a fine comedy and one of the best new shows of the season. After all of this growth, “See Ya” feels like a fitting end to New Girl’s first season.
The entire group is dealing with the loss of Nick, who has decided to move out of the apartment and in with Caroline, the woman who left him an agoraphobic, turtle-faced, borderline alcoholic. Even though they protest, Nick is sure in his position. That is, until he takes his moving van to his new place with Schmidt and Winston and freaks out, driving them to the desert instead and throwing his keys away.
Cece and Jess head over to the desert as well, leaving their Nick replacement Neil, played by Thomas Lennon, behind. In a fit of rage, Jess also throws her keys in the desert, prompting the scared-of-the-dark Winston to freak out as night falls. The five make camp for the night with Nick’s furniture, with their soundtrack a ‘90s mix tape filled with OMC and Deep Blue Something made by 14-year-old Nick.
Schmidt is unusually quiet, after visiting Cece on a photo shoot in which she straddles a rocket with a male model. While in the desert, he sees a text message from the model and becomes immediately suspicious of her. He decides he should “White Fang” her, which in Schmidt terms is to let her go, even though he cares about her.
After Nick and Jess face down a coyote by having Jess chase it down and make Road Runner noises, Jess admits that if Caroline makes Nick happy, then he is making the right choice. Jess finds her keys, which she had all along, the next morning, and the five go their separate ways. Schmidt, Jess and Winston instantly miss Nick, but as they all go to bed, they hear Nick’s terrible mixtape playing from outside the apartment as Nick announces that he is back, and they all have their own individual dance parties.
Of all the characters that have grown the most this season, Nick has had an incredible arc that has been somewhat planned out since the first episode. His dealing with the loss of Caroline began the series and now their latest break-up seems to close their story. Nick’s arc has been about growing up and moving forward. While Nick thought he was growing up by moving in with Caroline, he was just heading back into the same rut he started in and that 2010 bearded Nick warned him about. New Girl was never going to let Nick stay out of the apartment for too long; even if the show had let him move out, the first episodes of the next season would have had him ultimately come back. But by having the Cece-Schmidt relationship crumble, we get an even more surprising end to the season than the potential Nick move.
Looking at who Cece and Schmidt are now is like looking at two completely different characters than we started out with. Cece is possibly one of the most layered, and still somewhat mysterious, characters the show has, and Schmidt has proven that he is more than just the main depositor into the Douchebag Jar. Their break-up probably won’t last since their connection is too strong, but that at least gives these two characters somewhere to go in the next season and fulfills the relationship needs that most viewers so desperately want for Nick and Jess.
But the nicest change this season has been Jess, a character who started as the epitome of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and has become one of the most responsible characters in the cast. Yes, she does have a phone cover with bunny ears on it and thinks the best way to fight off a coyote is going “beep beep” at it, but her quirkiness has been kept in check, thankfully. Watching Neil move in, we see an awkward, self-proclaimed troubadour who sings “I Like To Move It” while moving in, and it reminded me of Jess moving in and how far she has come. Through her relationships with Paul and Russell this season, she has really balanced out into a character that doesn’t grate on nerves.
The strides New Girl has made since its first few episodes are phenomenal, and “See Ya” reminds viewers of this growth. The show can balance great character interactions while also keeping it weird. New Girl has learned that it can have important character moments while also allowing its characters to dance to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” or play a rousing game of True American. Like Nick, New Girl has found its balance and knows where it needs to go instead of being stuck in its mistakes in the past. If it can keep up this balance, New Girl could end up being this generation’s closest thing to Friends.