by Clio McConnell
We’re down to crunch time, folks—with only two episodes of “New Girl” left this season, Zooey Deschanel and co. triumph yet again with this week’s “Tomatoes.”
The title of this episode corresponds nicely with the character who is being showcased this week—namely, one Nick Miller. And what does Nick have to do with tomatoes, you ask? Well, he’s decided (with the input of Jess, one assumes) to channel his energy into growing a rooftop garden, and is giving up his eternal quest for love.
“Tomatoes” opens as Nick unveils this plan to his roommates and their significant others. Ever with a flair for the long-winded, Mr. Miller chooses to give some relationship advice as part of the speech. Perhaps the best pearl of wisdom pertains to Jess’ relationship with Russell, when Nick says, “Hold on tight, sister. Don’t let that one slip away.” (Foreshadowing, anyone?) Indeed, in this episode we get to see the true beauty of Jake Johnson’s ability to keep a straight face.
Then again, Dermot Mulroney might give Johnson a run for his money. This sarcastic comment is right up there with one-liners from “Veronica Mars:” “I didn’t actually roll my eyes, I just needed to quickly stare at the ceiling.” What makes this crack even funnier is the fact that it is something Nick or Schmidt would say in total seriousness, to get out of trouble with a woman.
The “New Girl” writers have an uncanny knack for writing many jokes in the same genre, but making them seem diverse. This is mostly due to the fact that their characters are intricate enough—and their actors are talented enough—to deliver the lines differently.
Also on the menu for “Tomatoes” are several very awkward encounters between Jess and Russell’s ex-wife, Ouli (Jeanne Tripplehorn). This sparks tension amidst the three of them—including sexual tension, but not in the way Jess would hope for. This change in the dynamic soon leads to some major trouble in paradise for Russell and Jess.
Feeling inferior to the ex-wife also gives Deschanel an opportunity to prove just how uncomfortable she can make an audience. Sure, she’s adorkable, but sometimes it feels as if the writers are giving the actress unfairly embarrassing scenes.
The background relationships—Schmidt with Cece, and Winston with Shelby—are more of a foil to Nick’s failures than anything else, though there are some entertaining moments when Schmidt pretend-dates Cece’s roommate, the Russian model Nadia.
The end of “Tomatoes” will make Nick/Jess fans want to laugh and cry at the same time. Thankfully we have two more episodes to settle the question of roommate romance.
Clio McConnell is the theater/books editor. Email her at email@example.com.