New Girl is back! Now with more Puzzles.

Guys, we have enough lingering plot questions at the very start of the season to have a “Previously on” appear at the beginning of this episode.  Like The West Wing, with more puzzles and probably an equal proportion of paper shredders.

My score: A

Recommended food pairing: Lobster dinner

When we last left our heroes:

  • Nick and Jess had called it off, called it on again, and made an endearing and emotional exit from Season 2/Cece’s wedding
  • Schmidt was also running, the competing affections of Cece and Elizabeth propelling him away from decision-making land
  • Winston had lost quite a bit of blood after a ruthless badger attack

We return to Cece’s botched wedding night, and you know what:  Jess and Nick are “All in.”  They’re adorable and all over and in and on top of one another.  They have a big, giggling, music-blasting, quickie moment in Jess’s car, then head home to find that they just aren’t ready to open the door to the reality of the loft quite yet.

Ness stands at the door to a chorus of texts from a distraught Schmidt.  Obviously, Schmidt and Winston can’t survive without Nick as buffer between them (as we’ll see throughout the episode), but our happy on-again couple can’t bear to fall back into the old formula after the wedding.  Who could blame them?

Schmidt eventually opens the door, full of life-crisis, and accuses them of selfishly ignoring him, driving around “French kissing each other like a couple of Dutch hookers” (not sure what that means, but one of my fave lol moments this week).

Winston, having not quite bled-out, still seems a bit out-of-sorts here and begins his main occupation for the episode: completing a puzzle.  A puzzle, you say?  Damn right, a puzzle.  He’ll assemble the crap out of that puzzle, just watch.

Image via here

Credits roll.

With the roommate vacuum sucking away, Schmidt tells Winston (still puzzling soft-core) that they have “One choice.  To become best friends.”  Winston agrees, but remains focused on the puzzle.  Turns out, Schmidt has seen this intense puzzle behavior before in Winston, that puzzling makes him spend a lot of time humming, muttering sexy phrases and getting naked.

I say Winston + Puzzle forever.  Finally, some real relationship drama for him to work with.  (Can’t help by think damn at Mr. Morris’ dedication to the cause here.)


Gif via Alec Radu on The Final Points


For Schmidt, the scene is all Cece – Elizabeth.  Elizabeth – Cece.  “I’m not just a plug with [Cece], I’m also a socket.”  Wow.  But he admits he knew Elizabeth first, tells Winston he picks her (this is important) and launches into an expected series of her—no, her!  farcical scenes.

  • He can’t tell Cece (still returning gifts from her non-wedding) that he doesn’t want to be with her, because he still does.  And they kiss.  Poor Elizabeth.
  • He can’t tell Elizabeth (still my favorite) it’s over.  “As if,” he says.  And they kiss.  Poor Cece.

Meanwhile in the car with Jess and Nick, we are all in…Mexico!  You can tell from the super-subtle cops with guns, the mariachi music, monkey piñata and fruit vendors.  The Miller + Day honeymoon from real life has moved to the beach, and they’ll do anything to prevent going back to “having sex without a bunch of feral dogs watching.”

“Remember when we lived in that loft and had all of those problems,” says Jess.  Nick throws his phone into the ocean, Schmidt, serious now and needing his friend, on the other line.   Poor Schmidt.   Paradise Nick and Paradise Jess have no shelter, no food and no money, but they are still “All In.”  They’re still, by the way, also in the shipwreck-survivor versions of their wedding clothes.  I’m trademarking that right now, just fyi.  Shipwreck-chic.

newgirl-ep301_allin-sc12_00319Image via TVline

Meanwhile, back at the loft: a small exchange between our new bffs insinuates that Schmidt has indeed let “her” down easy, and that Winston is proud Schmidt made a choice.  Of course…he still thinks that choice was Elizabeth.

Enter Cece.  In our farce, Winston believes Schmidt rejected her, and turns to give her a hug and a puzzle-induced reassuring hum.   Re-enter Schmidt with the instant cover line to “What about Elizabeth?” of “He made love to her.”

It’s silly.

Topless Schmidt and Bathrobe Winston spin a story over Cece-in-the-Middle to try to cover the mistaken condolences with some more-creepy-than-sexy improv where Winston seduced (2.5 times) Elizabeth, went to her house, had sex with her, and got some “Disgusting, disgusting jollies” out of it.

Okay, here's topless Schmidt.  You know you wanted it.

Image courtesy of

“Give her the short version, which you did not give to Elizabeth,” says Schmidt.  And, just as he said he would do, he’s taken Winston’s dignity in favor of his friendship.

Cece has trouble believing Winston would take advantage of Elizabeth, which is nice, because I was having trouble believing she would ever buy the fabrication at all.   She’ll buy it, though, just as soon as she hears Winston had asked for a pair of her panties.  That crosses a line.  The panty line, we’ll call it.

In true improv fashion Winston reluctantly agrees he is such a pervert that he also asked Schmidt for Cece’s underwear.  Yes, and.  Of course, he continues to say that needed her underwear to “Sew into [his] underwear.”  Yes, and, indeed.  Cece leaves, disturbed (as we all were).  Schmidt has broken one of Winston’s only defined rules of friendship: Don’t lie to me.   And we get a nice time-stamp to let us know this has been going on for four days before Schminston is officially no longer a thing.

Sounds like its time to return to Mexico, the land of free (see: stolen) cocktails.  Nick and Jess lounge on some nice resort beach chairs, but will need to obtain some green you-can-be-here bracelets, or be arrested.

Cue cute little curly-haired boy with glasses.  Nick tries to sob story him into giving him the bracelet for the love of his life, asks him nicely, then threatens to “strangle [him] to death” if he does not give it up.  I agree with Jess that this is “Not cool” but it works.

Sort of.  Nick still doesn’t have a bracelet in time, and takes off running from beach security into the ocean.   Unfortunately, as we all know (Wikipedia tells me so), the beach is not really International Waters unless you swim out for a really really long time.


Image via here.

“I didn’t get that reference!”

Now, time for a moment I like to call: “I didn’t get that reference!”  I’ll admit it.  I had to look up Point Break.  In short, here’s what you (see: I) missed:

  • In the culminating scene to Point Break, FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) tracks down bank-robber, surfer and new-found friend Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) on the beach during a 50-Year Storm, violent and deadly waves, the surf of a lifetime.  They fight and end up handcuffed together before Bodhi convinces Utah to let him ride the waves one last time (presumably to his death), rather than arrest him.
  • You guys, it’s just…it’s glorious.  You’ve got to watch it.  Do it.
  • Point Break – Ending Scene (courtesy of canny wf1)

After a bit of a struggle and a bit of tazering (In salt water?  Is that safe?), Paradise Nick is off to jail.  And we’re off to a commercial.

Meanwhile, back at the loft, the score is still very much Puzzle: 1, Winston: 0.  I can’t help but love the way the writers sneak in a truly sincere summary for Schmidt:

“I need a friend right now.  I love both of these women, and I can’t lose them, and I can’t…hurt them.”

He takes his dilemma out on Winston’s sad, sad puzzle skills.   If you’re keeping track of Winston’s clothing level, here’s where we’ve gone:

  • Dress Shirt and Slacks to
  • T-shirt and Shorts
  • T-shirt and Bathrobe
  • No Shirt + Hoodie-as-pants
Just to be fair, here's Winston shirtless, too.


Gif via Vulture’s The New Girl Premiere’s Most Gif-able Moments

Maybe he would have fared better if the puzzle didn’t move from dining room table to the living room and back again each scene.  Either way, there is an awkward dizzy showdown about who’s made whom madder before Jess crashes in to enlist their help in getting Nick out of jail.  They jump in the car, and off to Mexico.

Fully clothed and breathless, Jess, Schmidt and Winston arrive at the resort/jail with significant fears about whether Nick has already or will become somebody’s bitch/sissy/chubby gringo.  If I hadn’t watched so much Orange is the New Black recently, I may not have found this so funny and topical.  I’m sure his prison husband would have been a kind and gentle mocha and vanilla swirl.  Orange is the New Black “Life” Official Trailer (Netflix)

Schmidt starts off my favorite chain of bribery in recent history by being just the tiniest bit racist (“This is for you to send your kids to college, or you to send some fun up your nose”) to the hotel clerk Moreno.

In turn they “bribe” Moreno, Manny, Julio and Brad before discovering that Winston is color blind (perhaps Winston + Puzzle was never meant to be) and reuniting (penniless) with the security guard who arrested Nick, and offering to give him Jess’s car in return for his freedom.

What’ll it be Nick, old pal?  Return to the bickering Winston and Schmidt with Jess and try to make it work in the loft?  Or, stay and live in Mexico as the Paradise version of yourself?  Nick threatens to shred his passpor; it will just be too hard to make it work.

But we all know there is no Ness without Winston and Schmidt.  They tell us so, and I, for one, believe it.  This was a really lovely scene, and a nice way to start the season with a clean slate.

“I got a really great deal on Craigslist.   I got all of you,” says Jess.  Sometimes you don’t pick who you love.  Sitcom writers do.  But really, your heart does.  Unless you secretly live in a sitcom…

Of course, by the law of television paper shredders, the passport never stood a chance, and it falls in of its own accord.  Winston, finding his 50-Year-Puzzle, goes to work.  Somehow, they make it across the border and back to where we found ourselves approximately 19 minutes before: the door to 4D.

Nick and Jess don’t have a key, so they argue/kiss until Schmidt lets them in.  One story line temporarily resolved we cut to Schmidt.  He has Cece on one phone line, until Elizabeth cuts in.  They both want to see him.  Tonight.  Progress will have to wait for another day.

And we are left with Winston.  The puzzle, a mess of upside-down and improperly fitted pieces, with a pecan on top looks good enough for him.

That’s it folks.  New Girl is back.  And you know what I think?  I think it was pretty good in a we’re-back-where-we-started kind of way.  It was the day after the wedding where you sober up and figure out what the hell just happened.  Not much is different, but damn there were a lot of emotions flying around.

Am I “All In”?  Yep.  Because if anyone can work car sex, puzzle-induced insanity, threatening children, international relations and wonderful 90’s surf-movie references into one episode, New Girl and Elizabeth Merriwether can.

And just in case you weren’t keeping count during the episode:

  • Times “All In” or “I’m in” is spoken: 10
  • Puzzle pieces assembled correctly: 0


New girl airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX.  You can catch it on Hulu + or the day after new episodes premiere.