New Girl, Season 2, Episode 24: “Winston’s Birthday”
Written by Brett Baer & Dave Finkel
Directed by Max Winkler
Airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on FOX
New Girl picks up where we left off last week by opening with the morning after for Nick and Jess. Nick wakes up with a big, goofy smile completely unfazed and overcome with happiness. Nick eventually leaves to make breakfast, after which Jess finds a huge soft pretzel under his pillow (this is pretty random but also pretty funny). In the kitchen, we see Nick rush to put together what he considers a romantic breakfast – undercooked eggs, a badly prepared grapefruit, a slice of pie? (“dessert!”), a glass of OJ, and a Heisler beer. The audience see a really sweet side of Nick in his scene, as he rushes to put together breakfast in bed for Jess and contemplates where to incorporate a flower into said breakfast before abandoning it completely. Nick never puts this much effort into anything- it’s adorable and funny, as he isn’t exactly skilled at presentation. On his way back to the bedroom, Nick runs into a surprise visit from Jess’ dad Bob (Rob Reiner), who forgets Nick’s name and calls Winston “Wilson”. Jess emerges in Nick’s shirt, not aware her Dad planned to visit, and after some maneuvering, Winston begrudgingly accepts the food tray, Jess convinces Nick to keep quiet about last night, and we have our episode mapped out.
Extra stress is thrown in when Jess gets called in for a last-minute substitute teaching gig that could turn into a full-time position. This is great- teaching is her passion and it was horrible to see how down-spirited she got when she was laid off. Aside from dealing with that and worrying about how Nick will mess up, she also has some maid of honour responsibilities to tend to. Planning to go see Cece during lunch and check up on her father and Nick before returning back to class, “Winston’s Birthday” essentially focuses on Jess. Having recently lost his father, it’s obvious Nick is enjoying his alone time with Bob. At the loft, the two bond over making sandwiches and Nick basically cracks after the first question about his love life. Amusingly we see the return of what is the worst fake name ever, Yolanda Winston. Nick spends the day talking about his feelings for Jess and because Bob comes across as liberal and gives good advice, Nick takes the plunge and confesses that Yolanda is in fact Jess. This week’s episode feels like a step forward and pretty real, until Bob chases after a screaming Nick.
Elsewhere, we join Schmidt and Elizabeth for their morning after experience. When he asks how his new body compares to his old one, Elizabeth states she liked his body “before [he] knew what to do with it” and we are treated to a much better flashback scene than last week’s. Back to the present, Elizabeth shows up early to Schmidt’s office and ends up making a scene when Schmidt doesn’t want to admit to a coworker that they’re dating. From the moment this happens, it’s pretty obvious how the episode willl end for them. When Elizabeth dumps him, he crashes her dinner date and they end up dancing like maniacs again. It’s predictable but sweet and executed well; what’s surprising is that Schmidt resists the urge to make a comment on her date, something he has done to Cece in the past.
As much as “Winston’s Birthday” is mostly about Jess, the episode gets its name from the fact everybody forgets the titular birthday. When Jess is short on time and asks Winston to pick up Cece’s sari and drop it to her apartment he is sure it’s a ruse. When he gets there, outfitted in a Michael-Jackson-circa-1983 leather suit, the only surprise he gets is Cece looking like Mike Tyson. Jess comes rushing over convinced that olive oil and cotton balls will do the trick, but of course, the “solution” only creates an even bigger problem, leaving Cece with a comedic hobo-looking beard/henna tattoo. Unable to fix the problem and seeing that Cece is in no mood to talk about Nick, Jess takes off and calls Shivrang over. If anything good could possibly come of this situation for Cece, it’s Shivrang quite sweetly telling her that if this is their only problem, they have no problems.
When we eventually see Bob’s reaction to Nick and Jess, we learn his disapproval stems from the fact he sees himself in Nick, a younger version of himself that ruined things with Jess’ mother. Kept apart from Nick at home by her father deliberately sleeping between their rooms, Jess eventually joins Nick on the roof for the breakfast he never got to give her, only to have Schmidt and Elizabeth interrupt. After a rough day, Winston stumbles upon the rest of the loft up on the roof and when he assumes this is the surprise party he’s been expecting all day, they play along.
Other thoughts / observations:
– I’m glad Jess defends Nick and comes to the realisation that it could be messy but she should go for it anyway
– Though they don’t get a chance to talk things over, it’s clear both Jess and Nick are committed to figuring out their relationship
– “Burkas isn’t you guys is it?”, is a really funny and well executed line and I applaud New Girl for it because it’s hard to comment on different cultures without sounding racist
– With both Cece and Schmidt’s romances growing stronger, next week’s finale will definitely be interesting!