“Winston’s Birthday,” the next-to-last episode of New Girl’s second season, is a frantic, packed episode with five different characters’ stories to keep up with which set up the conflicts that will arise next week for Cece’s wedding. It would make sense if “Winston’s Birthday” was a mess, especially since the episode also features flashbacks, meta jokes and guest stars, but New Girl pulls it off brilliantly.
Jess and Nick were going to have a lot to deal with in this episode regardless, since they just had sex for the first time after two years of building anticipation. But a surprise visit from Jess’ father Bob, played by Rob Reiner, means that Nick and Jess can’t have the discussion they probably should be having the morning after.
Everyone has their own crisis in “Winston’s Birthday,” as Jess is given the opportunity to go back to teaching and runs to the school. However instead of getting a job interview, she is forced to sub for a class of unruly kids. This leaves Nick at home with Bob, and they get along great, but it leaves Nick trying to hide what happened with him and Jess only hours before. Cece is also freaking out and calling Jess, as she has slept on the henna for her wedding and now has a henna beard that makes her look like Mandy Patinkin. Schmidt is back to seeing his college sweetheart Elizabeth, but he shuns her in public.
But poor Winston’s only problem is that everyone else is so busy with their own stuff that they don’t even remember that it’s his birthday. Winston has always received the short end of the stick, and probably the largest flaw in this great second season has been the lack of Winston stories. Winston has received more character, but he still pales in comparison to everyone else, maybe even Cece. But that’s what makes Winston’s story so hilarious, as the writers are surely commenting on this problem and at least having fun with it.
There’s so much plot to “Winston’s Birthday” outside of the exclusion of Winston. Bob tells Jess that if she dates Nick, it’ll be like dating her father, and even he’s not good enough for his daughter. But the two don’t let this dissuade them from each other, even meeting for a late-night rendezvous on the roof.
As much as I expect we’ll see Schmidt and Cece together sometime in the near future, the real person for Schmidt might just be Elizabeth. Her character is one I always want to see more of and the way that Schmidt acts around her gives us elements of Fat Schmidt, while also still giving us Douchey Schmidt, for better or for worse.
“Winston’s Birthday” is an episode of New Girl that has more plates spinning than maybe the last two episodes combined. There’s so much happening, yet every aspect of the episode receives the right amount of coverage, and carries us perfectly into next week’s finale. New Girl is making sure to end its incredibly strong second season with some of its best episodes.