This week on “New Girl,” Zooey Deschanel’s Jess is having some serious relationship issues. Though her break-up with Russell—as seen in last week’s “Tomatoes”—isn’t taking quite the same toll as the end of her relationship with Spencer in the series’ beginning, Jess still takes it pretty hard.
Each of her roommates tries unsuccessfully to comfort her, but Cece finally convinces Jess that she needs to switch her pajamas for one of her adorkable retro dresses and get out of the apartment. Once situated at the bar, Jess worries aloud that she’ll die alone one day; Schmidt, comforting as ever, assures her that she’ll never die, since humans will be immortal by 2026.
Recognizing the signs of a relationship “backslide”—a rebound affair with an ex-boyfriend—Schmidt and Winston play keep-away with Jess’ phone, so that she doesn’t make an embarrassing call. But they’re not diligent enough, and Jess relapses with her former beau, Paul Genslinger (Justin Long).
Not only does the reappearance of Long’s character provide the opportunity for several punny nicknames (“Mercedes Gens,” “Gensel Washington,” The Gens of the World As We Know It”), Paul also creates quite a bit of drama by sleeping with Jess.
Meanwhile, Winston and Schmidt must attempt to prevent another “backslide”—namely, Nick’s renewed relationship with Caroline, the woman who broke his heart seemingly beyond repair. Unfortunately, Caroline seems to have fully reasserted her influence over Nick, even asking him to consider moving in with her.
When his roommates realize the import of the situation, Nick is forced to watch a video he made after his last break-up with Caroline. Long-haired and grimy, this is a Nick Miller in the depths of despair—he literally has a jar full of his own tears. But this pathetic image does not dissuade present-day Nick from staying with Caroline, and so Schmidt and Winston fail to prevent both of their roomies’ backslides.
Neither one is too broken up, though. Schmidt, for his part, is making progress on a real relationship with Cece—he even meets the grandparents. Cece’s grandmother makes an appearance, telling Nick, “If you hurt [Cece], I will let myself die, and then I will haunt you.”
And Winston is having a grand old time, not with his girlfriend, but with his newly pierced ear. Winston proudly presents his piercing after a somewhat drunken escapade with his boss. As “Backslide” progresses, Winston’s jewelry gets more ridiculous, as do the earring-related insults thrown his way. (My personal favorite—“Captain Black Sparrow.”)
The writers certainly know their way around a punny script, and they do seem to be making the Jess/Nick dynamic a bit more interesting. Hopefully next week’s season finale will be the opposite of a “backslide” for the star-crossed roommates.
Clio McConnell is theater/books editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.