After a decent if meandering season, New Girl aired the fourth season finale last night, and it was actually, surprisingly very good. Coach left, Nick and Jess made sexual overtures toward one another, Schmidt and Cece got engaged, and Winston flipped a crepe.
The episode did cheat, however, by including “Rivers & Roads” by The Head and the Heart, which is enough to make even the darkest, most misanthropic episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia feel poignant.
The finale also set up the fifth season, where we will finally see some honest-to-goodness changes. For Schmidt and Cece, it will be about wedding planning, and according to showrunner Liz Meriwether, it will see Schmidt become obsessed with planning the perfect wedding in a gender reversal, of sorts.
Without Damon Wayans, Jr., it will also see the show reduced again to its core cast, which will allow Meriwether more time to focus on a smaller number of characters, including Cece, who we will finally get to know better.
More interestingly, we’ll get to see what New Girl is like without the “New Girl.” Because of Zooey Deschanel’s pregnancy, they have already taped the first four episodes of next season. In the fall to accommodate Deschanel’s maternity leave, she’ll actually leave the series for four episodes, as her character will be sequestered in a jury. Without Wayans and without Deschanel for four episodes, the series may actually be forced to focus on its best character at the moment, Winston.
But what of Nick and Jess, and does anyone even care at this point? With Schmidt and Cece finally together — and moving toward marriage — does it even make sense to have another couple on the series, much less one that irreparably harmed the show in season three?
I actually think so. April and Andy and Ben and Leslie were paired up in Parks and Recreation, and that didn’t hurt the series, and as much as some viewers may hate the idea of Nick and Jess together, it just doesn’t make sense to keep them apart. Their pairing is inevitable, and every time a romantic obstacle is put in their way, it feels like they’re treading water. Just figure it out. Instead of trying to find new ways to keep them apart, expend that energy on finding the comedy and chemistry in their relationship. Stop stalling. Neither one of them make sense with other people, so either put them together or kill one of them off.
As long as it’s Jess.