“Sister I,” “Sister II” and “Sister III” are three pretty dull episode titles, but at least it’ll be easy to look back and label that strange New Girl arc where Jess’s sister came to stay in the loft.
I guess the point of “Sister III” was to show Abby’s transition. For once she leaves a place out of her own volition. Yes, she still leaves disaster behind- well, she leaves Schmidt behind, whose mistakes are his own fault, realistically- but the point is that she walks away from someone instead of taking the easy way out like she tells Jess she usually does, attaching on to the nearest person for fear of ever being alone.
And that’s a nice ending for her. If, that is, we actually ever really cared about Abby.
But three episodes- episodes that made me wonder what exactly New Girl is doing- simply isn’t enough time to form an attachment to a character whose destructive nature would have made her a complex character to love as a regular, let alone a dropping guest.
By the end of Abby’s journey in “Sister III” I was happy that she had a purpose, going home to stay with her mother to save up for a different form of independence, a more grown-up, self-servicing kind, but as much fun as Linda Cardillini was, her character… Well…
Abby was just a plot line, wasn’t she? And although in “Sister II” she was a painful one, she served her purpose better in the first and final acts of her arc, her and Jess sitting across from one other and openly talking of the competition they silenty have always been waging against each other.
It was hackneyed to push Schmidt and Abby together for the sake of forcing Jess to compare her and Nick’s relationship to that of her sister’s, but it works when you see the end result: her and Nick have a different relationship to that of Schmidt and Abby’s because of the simple fact that they’re different people. And after convincing Nick that her moving into his room is a good idea, Jess ends up fleeing to a hotel room (and gloriously having one of the best nights of her life) because she just needs space. Abby and Schmidt, meanwhile, can’t handle being alone for a second. They aren’t comfortable with themselves, and therefore have to constantly be around other people- in this case each other- something that make Jess feel inadequate and guilty, because all she wants to do is get away from Nick for a few hours.
(Nick, of course, feels much the same, and is delighted to hear that Jess has run away from him, because he never gets a one up on Jess.)
And while Jess realizes that she and Nick are normal for wanting space, and that they are, perhaps, the healthier couple compared Abby and Schmidt (of which they certainly are, Schmidt and Abby being two lonely, vulnerable, dysfunctional people shacking up together because of how afraid they are of only having themselves for company), Winston tries to get into shape for his LAPD exam, Furguson by his side to support him. (!! Any sight of Furgie brings an episode up greatly in my esteem, to be honest.) And in what was the episode’s strongest story, Coach and Cece had somehow become best friends over the course of a week, Coach helping her snoop on Abby, distrustful of her motives towards Schmidt.
I don’t love Schmidt this season at all- he can be the best comedic player in the loft; the most interesting and sad character of them all- but also the easiest to write off of a cliff because of his completely unstable nature. But I do love Cece and her burgeoning friendships with the rest of the gang, especially when it allows Coach to drop that incredibly masculine persona of his.
The episode ends on a high note- Nick and Jess deciding that they’re fine, despite not wanting to live togehter-live together- “I love you, and someday we’ll make this work.”- Nick even bringing back that immortal line that was uttered after their first almost-kiss- “I think so too. Just- not now, and not like this.”-which I now realize was an omen for what happened almost seconds afterwards.
The first time Nick told Jess he didn’t want to kiss her- not in that way, not at that time, not with her boyfriend right around the corner- he went and did it anyway, just a few minutes later for us, in the hallway between their rooms. And this time it only takes Schmidt seconds to come in and ruin everything, announcing that he’ll be moving back in (forcing Nick and Jess to share the room that they’d just decided to not cohabit), Schmidt subletting his separate apartment to save money because of the terrible move he made in renting out a storefront for the now departed Abby. (She made terrible, dangerous jewellery that Schmidt was funding.)
And so just like that, Schmidt’s season of change… Reverts?
I don’t know. It will be good to have him back in the loft I think, but I honestly can’t predict what the writers are trying to do with his character anymore. He’s terribly interesting because of how completely insecure and dependent he is- yet controlling and unbearable towards his friends at the same time- but his development is wildly unpredictable, and when tuning in to New Girl, I never know whether or not Schmidt will be any fun. And increasingly, I never know when tuning in if New Girl itself will be particularly fun, either.
“Sister III” is (thank god) an improvement over “Sister II”, but its funniest moments come from its players who live mostly on the sidelines.
- Jess convincing Nick that they should share a room: “Just you and me, four walls, no boundaries, no escape!” “When you put it like that, it sounds amazing. And like prison.”
- Coach loves having a friendship with a girl that really is just about friendship (and I love to watch it): “It’s not about the butt: it’s not about the butt.”
- Schmidt, however, disagrees: “You two being friends is a real bummer. I’m not into it.” As per usual, Schmidt is stupid wrong.
- Cece and Coach smack-talking: “Girlfriend’s going down, girlfriend.” “Yeah she is.” “Let us bust her, buster.” … “Just to be clear, I did not ask you to act like this.” “…It’s just kind of fun.”
- Jess’s qualms about Nick: he wears a night dress disguising itself under the name of a ‘long shirt’ and, as she professed to Abby: “He has the feet of a hippie cult leader!”
- “I just throw myself into whatever comes along, because I really don’t want to be alone.” “Why not? Being alone is great!” It is great, when you enjoy your own company. Something that looks set to be a consistent issue for Schmidt.