by Clio McConnell
This week’s episode of “New Girl” finishes the first season, and it may mark the end of an era—after all, Nick is moving out of the apartment. As you may remember from “Backslide” last week, Nick has decided to shack up with his no-longer-ex-girlfriend Caroline.
Once they realize that he is actually serious about moving, Jess, Schmidt, and Winston get pretty angry with their fourth roommate. They try to goad him into staying, by fantasizing about the things they’ll be able to do once he’s gone—Winston looks forward to saving money, now that he will no longer have to cover for Nick; Schmidt is excited to spend big money on a professional plumber, rather than getting by with Nick’s DIY home improvements.
Jess, for her part, is simply angry with Nick. She thinks he is making a mistake by moving in with Caroline, and angrily tells him so. He doesn’t want to talk about it, though, and insists that they start looking for a new roommate. The result of this search is Neil (special guest star Thomas Lennon), who proclaims himself “kind of a troubadour.” Clearly, there are some parallels between him and that new girl who moved in at the beginning of the season… though unfortunately, Jess doesn’t see it this way. Not only does she dislike Neil, she actively tries to scare him off.
Will she really have to trade in Nick for Neil, though? On the way to Nick’s new apartment, Nick “overshoots” the building and drives into the desert, with Schmidt and Winston in tow. To make matters worse, he throws his keys into a ravine in a dramatic fit.
After some shenanigans between the boys (the hijinks in “See Ya” are not quite up to par with the madcap energy of recent episodes “Fancyman Part 1” or “Secrets”) they finally call Jess for help, and so Ms. Day and Cece come to give the guys a ride. But when Jess hears that Nick is still planning to move in with Caroline, she flings her own keys off a cliff.
Stuck in the desert with nothing but Nick’s worldly possessions, the gang gets to hang out one last time. They have a few drinks and dance around to a mix-tape that Nick made at age 14, but it’s not long before Nick gets moody and wanders off. Naturally, Jess follows him, and a sensitive discussion ensues—don’t get too excited, you hopeless romantics—resulting in a somewhat different plan for living arrangements.
Though this is by no means one of the funniest episodes of “New Girl,” some important ground is covered plot-wise in the finale. The writers have certainly gotten better at pairing drama and comedy, but “See Ya” could improve with some more irreverent humor a la Schmidt, or some of Nick’s patented straight-faced ridiculousness.
It is also important to note that, as the show has evolved, Zooey Deschanel is no longer really the main character. Each of the four roommates gets a similar amount of on-screen time, and everyone has a pretty elaborate backstory.
This is a refreshing direction to take, but the balance has not yet been perfected, because it is difficult to explore four different storylines in thirty minutes. If “New Girl” episodes included more scenes with all four roommates—indeed, these are usually the funniest moments—perhaps the show could finally achieve an equilibrium between plot and humor.
Clio McConnell is the books/theater editor. Email her at email@example.com.