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New Girl 3×09 “Longest Night Ever” Recap

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This week on New Girl, Furguson is back, and nothing else matters… It’s also date night, but like I said, Furguson is back. (Until Nick loses him, that is.)

In theory, “Longest Night Ever” is supposed to be an episode about Coach and Cece. In practice, however, we see that it’s actually an episode about Schmidt. We’ve seen Schmidt, in “Keaton”, deal with accepting the fact that he lost Cece and Elizabeth, but now he’s truly seeing the ramifications. He played around with two girls that he couldn’t bear to break up with, and now they’re moving on because of it. It’s difficult, because Max Greenfield’s face does kill you a little bit, but Schmidt put himself in this place, and the writers seemed committed to leave him there until he really learns something. And tonight, he does.

Coach, being the bro-code abiding guy that he is, asks Schmidt if it’s cool to ask Cece out. Schmidt agrees, but doesn’t really mean it. Like, at all. Which is how Nick and Jess get caught up in the mess, the only couple that really should be going on a date tonight. Nick’s back to being the wise fool again this episode, telling Jess that when Schmidt says he’s fine he really isn’t, complete with a college flashback where Schmidt tries to strangle himself in bed. (“There’s going to be other open mics! With sturdier stools!” And then: “Stop! You just said you were fine! You just said you were fine!”)

Schmidt’s a curious character, someone that despite his morally questionable decisions, we’re all incredibly fond of. The characters in the New Girl loft are a weird bunch, but Schmidt’s someone whose character can veer off into the other, unlikeable direction very quickly. But the writers this season are trying to do just that: see how far they can take Schmidt, all in the name of forcing him to grow up. When Nick told him that he had to break up with either Elizabeth or Cece, he asked why? Because it’s the way of the world, Nick said. And this season, that’s what Schmidt seems set to do. Learn and accept. Particularly in this episode where he’s forced to accept that he has to let Cece move on. Not only because it’s right, but also because he has no right.

So while Nick and Jess are containing Schmidt in the loft, Coach and Cece go on their date. It’s not something that we see a lot of, and it’s a pity really. From the first moment we see Coach and Cece (Coach telling himself that he’s the prize here), it’s clear to see that Schmidt isn’t needed to screw this date up. If only we saw more of it, really.

But, as is becoming the trend, Winston delivers the biggest laughs of the night – all by himself. He leaves Furgie behind (in the care of Nick), to go out and find some ladies. Human ones, he clarifies to Nick. “Do you ever wonder if someone in here has killed someone?” Winston asks, returning home with the admission that he’s forgotten to talk to women. But really, has he ever known how to? But he’s fine, it’s all fine, Winston is fine being completely alone for the rest of his life. As long as he’s got Furguson.

The cat who Nick let run out the window.

And so, just when things are going completely wrong, the episode heats up a little. Nick leaves to right his wrong with Furguson (“You misplaced my best friend!” “Furguson’s your best friend now?!”), and Jess is left to deal with Schmidt. She’s reluctant, but she tries to take his mind off of Cece before deciding that it will go better if they focus on helping him move on, rather than keeping him cooped up in the loft. And so Jess takes him down to the bar, and sits him down next to a girl. (“She’s on a flip phone, Jess! She’s either poor or a time traveler!”) It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen the old Schmidt in action, and it’s fun to see him out and about with a purpose, rather than looking lost in his new loft.

Everyone in New Girl is a little bit lost, that’s why they’re there in their 30s together, but Schmidt was always the man with the plan – he cooked, he cleaned, he went to work, he hooked up with women… But now he’s just as confused as the rest of them. And he’s dealing with it badly. It’s a lot of fun to see Schmidt unraveling, but it’s hard, too, and tonight’s episode got a lot better when he was finally out with Jess, chasing after something with purpose. And it’s then, as he tries to run to the Staples Center to ruin Cece’s date, that what hasn’t been said gets said. “I love her, Jess. I have to tell her.” But Schmidt doesn’t have that right anymore, and that’s what this episode is about, more than anything: Schmidt having to accept that fact.

As for Winston, Furguson gets found – by Bertie, a bus driving woman with whom he stays the night with – while Nick takes home the cat and Winston asks Furguson to wish him luck on the way out. And he’s not the only one getting lucky tonight, Coach saving his date at the end of the night (predictably but sweetly) when he tells Cece that he was texting his mother all night, and not any other girls.

But Schmidt, well, Schmidt ends up getting hit by a car. Jess’s car. And he literally, really truly, asks for it. “Come on, I deserve it.” And maybe Schmidt does deserve it but it’s sort of disappointing when he actually does gets hit. Schmidt doesn’t deserve an easy out, not that he’s getting one, but the act was still there and the distraction was provided. But then there was the better, accidental hit that came afterwards. “I hit him, because I care about him.” Schmidt isn’t back to normal, far from it, but he and Jess just might be after this. A welcome relief to all.

It’s not the funniest episode, but the second half of “Longest Night Ever” redeems the slow first set of scenes. Having Jess and Schmidt back together again provides good material for the episode’s a-story. I can’t help but feel like Winston would have done more with the A-story, though. But hey. There’s always next week.

“I’m not fine. But I will be.”

Rating: B-