New Girl, Ep. 2.20, “Chicago”: An Ode To Mr. Nick Miller

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Zooey Deschanel as Elvis in New Girl, Chicago

Margo Martindale and Jack Johnson in New Girl, Chicago

New Girl, Season 2, Episode 20: “Chicago”
Written by Luvh Rakhe
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Airs on Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on FOX

In previous episodes, New Girl hasn’t been so good with serious matters, but following “Quick Hardening Caulk”, this week’s episode is a definite game-changer for the show.

“Chicago” has a strong opening and it’s almost as good as Cece’s drawn out ‘what’ from “Table 34”. Jess comes home with some balloons she got from a nice guy in a van and Schmidt and Winston inhale the helium, which encourages Jess to do the same. The three are having fun till Nick interrupts with some unfortunate news. The episode takes a sad turn very quickly but the opening remains amusing when Nick is confused by his roommates not saying anything. Soon they open their mouths and utter encouraging words in funny, high-pitched voices. It’s a nice juxtaposition to start the episode with and it’s also a precursor of what’s to be expected throughout the rest of the episode.

Margo Martindale guest stars as Nick’s mum Bonnie and ever since we met Nick’s father it was clear she would be the parent he takes after. This is anchored throughout “Chicago” as we see her odd quirks, short temper, and avoidance of uncomfortable situations. As soon as Nick steps through the door, she pawns off organising the funeral on him. Nick, in turn, pawns off his eulogy responsibility on Jess. New Girl’s sophomore season has been the season of the amazing Nick Miller and each week we get a closer look at whom Nick really is. Every character on the show, at first glimpse, can be reduced to a stereotype. Jess is quirky, Cece is sexy, Schmidt is a douchebag, and so on, but underneath these easy labels, they grow more complex and more relatable.

In “Quick Hardening Caulk”, Jess finds herself more attracted to what appeared to be a new-found self-discipline and responsibility in Nick. This doesn’t change this week, as Responsible Nick is no surprise to his family at all. When we met Nick’s father earlier this season, we saw he was a man who didn’t parent particularly well. His schemes force Nick to step up and take his place. When Nick returns home this week, Bonnie immediately hands over all responsibility to him, this is based on an expectation of Nick that we as the audience have only ever really seen flashes of.

Zooey Deschanel as Elvis in New Girl, Chicago

“Chicago” works as an excuse to finally meet the rest of Nick’s family and it also gives professional musician Zooey Deschanel yet another chance to showcase her singing talents. Jess was, of course, unable to write a eulogy for Nick and spends the entire episode reaching out and trying to be there for him. By the end of the episode she comes through by impersonating “Aloha from Hawaii” Elvis for the Elvis-themed funeral. When Nick eventually gives his eulogy, Jess takes his hand and it’s a sweet moment they share. The episode ends with Bonnie telling Nick she is happy he has someone to look after him.

Other thoughts/observations:

– Overall an entertaining episode, but I would have liked to see more interaction between Nick and his other family members
– The death of Walt (Dennis Farina) is pretty unexpected for us as well for the Miller family. New Girl interestingly chose not to have a happy resolution between Nick and his father, which is what usually happens on TV with a broken parent-child relationship
– Another great guest spot from Nick Kroll who seems to be everywhere at the moment
– Nick’s family are all very aware who Jess was and his brother kept asking if they were doing it
– I couldn’t help but hope for more between Jess and Nick after last week’s episode
– Of course Schmidt would make the funeral about him
– Winston is on top form as always

Tara Costello

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