New Girl: “Clean Break”

(Episode 4.22)

TV Reviews
New Girl: “Clean Break”

As we say goodbye to Season Four of New Girl, the show says goodbye to Coach… for a second time. Although, the first time he left, they didn’t really say goodbye. It was just that, one day, Coach was gone, and Winston was there. Then, when Damon Wayans Jr. became available again, Coach returned, and the show had too many masters to serve, especially when you include the assortment of romantic interests these characters have had. However, “Clean Break” delivered the big story moment of Coach leaving, and also ended with another huge story moment that maybe some people will care about.

First, let us deal with Coach. As a man who has moved around a lot, he lives by a code. No sentiment is allowed. He fills up a duffel bag, and he moves on, and no photocubes of Jess will make the cut. However, when Coach refuses to take even the Regis Philbin crepe pan he and Winston bought one night, Winston blanches.

Naturally, of course, Coach becomes sentimental and takes the pan and some books and Nick’s workout CD, and he and Winston share a good cry. Coach tells them he loves them all as he and May drive away. The show threaded the needle well here. They didn’t get heavy-handed or over the top with the sentiment, but they let the characters have sincere moments of emotion. Wayans didn’t get to do a lot of funny stuff in this episode, but it was still a solid final showcase for him, while Winston got to deliver the jokes. There was a high saturation of Winston acting weird in this episode, by the way, and his cat came back!

Clean breaks become pertinent to Nick and Schmidt as well. Nick doesn’t really want to throw anything out, but his storyline is dedicated to drudging out his and Jess’ old romantic past. Basically, we learn that Nick and Jess are still attracted to each other sometimes! Then the show teases a clean break between them, manifested by their tossing out the sex mug… but then they walk back from this immediately when they both check the trash for the mug, and find it gone. Winston gave it to his cat. Non-sexually.

Does anybody still care about Nick and Jess? If so, they may have enjoyed this tease. However, all this episode really did was push Jess and Nick to the sidelines to rehash old will they/won’t they nonsense. They did, and that was that. There is probably nothing new to glean from these two romantically.

And they’re not even the clear star-crossed lovers of this show. This brings us to the big moment at the end of the episode. Schmidt and Cece are engaged to be married. No exclamation point here, as was used earlier. That was a sarcastic exclamation point. This is a declarative period of acceptance. Schmidt donates his Cece box, tries desperately to get it back, and then has to bribe Jack McBrayer to get him to give it up. Then he finds out Cece has feelings for him, and he proposes and everybody celebrates.

Of course, we lead up to this big moment with a flashback that reminds us that Schmidt is a man for whom a Douchebag Jar was instituted. Yet people are supposed to care about him and the most tertiary of the regulars getting married? The show deserves credit for shaking things up, even if they did it in the way all sitcoms seem to do. It should give them plenty of story fodder. Schmidt planning for a wedding sounds like a lot of fun potentially. Here’s hoping. And it feels right that the season began with everybody complaining about all the weddings they were going to, and then Jess puts a Schmidt and Cece Save the Date on the fridge to complete the circle.

“Clean Break” is a fitting end to this season of New Girl. It was fine and pleasant, but pretty par for the course. A lot of this season felt like the show was coasting on the charms of its cast and the quality of the joke writing. Maybe a shakeup was in order. Losing a cast member will do that. A wedding will do that. Perhaps next season will have some more life to it. And, if not, New Girl has settled into the mode that most sitcoms find themselves in eventually.

Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)

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