New Girl 3.14 “Prince” Review: I Love…Prince?

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After last night’s lopsided Super Bowl, New Girl (along with Brooklyn Nine-Nine) aired a new episode that had the difficulty task of pleasing long-time fans while also trying to impress the millions of new viewers who would be tuning in for the first time. “Prince” isn’t a perfect episode of New Girl by any means. For my taste, it’s a little too self-indulgent with its fantasy, as Jess and the gang end up singing and dancing with Prince by episode’s end, giving Zooey Deschanel the chance to show off her She & Him pipes. It’s also a little bit of a cheat that a moment as big as Nick and Jess telling each that they love each other is majorly overshadowed and taken over by the appearance of Prince, as he teaches Jess the secret lessons of love through a really fun, goofy montage.

However, despite my minor complaints, there’s absolutely no denying that this was one of New Girl‘s funniest episodes of the season, and that all the interactions between the characters (Nick’s spur of the moment shout of “I love you,” Schmidt and Cece’s emotionally-charged dancing, and Winston and Coach’s “Fire and Ice” routine) totally worked on every level. And that’s all I ask for from New Girl every week: make me laugh, make me believe that these characters are real people, and make me leave the episode with a big goofy smile on my face. “Prince” certainly did that.

What left me with the biggest smile on my face from last night’s New Girl (aside from Nick’s high-pitched screaming faint in front of Prince cause  that was pure perfection) was how the Nick/Jess “I love you” situation was handled. Despite that, as I said previously, I have issues with Prince being Jess’s main catalyst for stepping up, the way that both she and Nick told each that they loved each other totally fit their characters. The casual, simple conversational nature of Nick’s delivery illustrates how comfortable, safe, and confident he feels with Jess. Unlike when he was with Caroline (who looks to be making a return in Tuesday night’s episode, according to the promos that aired), Nick is a better version of himself with Jess, and the way he expresses this to her, followed by his immense freak out when she fires “finger guns” back at him instead of saying “I love you” back, reaffirms this.

At the same time, Jess’s initial reaction and her later yelling out of “I love you, Nick Miller” is a reminder of the awkward, unsure way that Jess handled her and Nick’s relationship during the back half of season two. She was never sure of what to say or even how to respond to Nick after he kissed her, but by the season finale’s end, she stood there at Cece’s wedding and told Nick flat out how much she wanted this relationship to work. Here, at Prince’s house, on the dance floor, Jess steps up again and proclaims to Nick and the entire room of people just how much she loves him. The first time a couple says “I love you” to each other is a huge moment in any television show, and New Girl kept its character consistent with Nick and Jess’s imperfectly awkward interactions. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Lastly, while Jess and Nick certainly were the central focus of “Prince,” the episode also allowed for some nice shared moments between Schmidt and Cece and Winston and Coach, which both built off from each pair’s scenes together in “Birthday.” Schmidt needs Cece’s help to hide from the party bouncer after he sneaks in through the hedges, so, of course, he naturally finds himself dancing with Cece and not leaving her even after the bouncer leaves. I really love how New Girl in this scene, and also during the Lemon Mouth scene later in the episode, is slowly allowing for some fresh air to rejuvenate the Schmidt/Cece relationship. They had never really been friends before they began dating and watching these small, friendly, and flirty interactions between the pair (not to mention the simply perfect chemistry between Max Greenfield and Hannah Simone) is making me root for them all over again.

Similarly, it’s great to see Winston and Coach clicking together. The main fear of New Girl fans when it was announced that Coach would return was that he would simply replace Winston. Although it has taken the writers a little bit of time to find the perfect balance, it appears that between Coach and Winston competing during their bake-off in “Birthday” and then teaming up to get into Prince’s party during last night’s episode that their newfound relationship is pretty solidified, which is a much more enjoyable alternative to constant fighting and bickering between the pair.

“Prince” wasn’t a total touchdown (see what I did there?), but it was a great indicator of what New Girl has been doing well for much of this season, specifically during 2014. Even when the episode dipped a little too much into silly wish-fulfillment territory, it still provided countless laughs and kept the realism of its characters, even in the most unrealistic situations, certainly earning its post-Super Bowl time slot.

Other thoughts:

– Really interested to see where New Girl takes Nick and Jess now that they’ve gotten the big “I love you” out of the way. Oh, please, just don’t create any unnecessary, manufactured drama for them, New Girl writers. Just please don’t.

– The flashbacks during this episode, from Nick’s obsession with Prince to Winston abruptly yelling to his date at dinner that he loves her, were completely on point and hilarious.

– According to Schmidt, Prince is terrible at Frisbee. He found 10 of them stuck in the hedges when he snuck in.

– Again, while I had issues with the over-the-top nature of this episode, I do understand going all out for the Super Bowl, and plus, it did give us the incredibly ridiculous sequence with Jess, Prince, and the butterfly, a Clayton Kershaw cameo, and a chance to hear Zooey Dechanel’s wonderful singing voice so I can’t be that upset about it.

– Winston and Coach getting into the party using their Fire and Ice routine was great, but Nick and Schmidt’s attempt to get into the party as Ham and Cheese was even more hysterical. Gotta love Nick’s improv: “The last time I saw him, we were standing in the desert and he was putting my mother in a prison!”

– After last night, it is a proven fact Jake Johnson’s high-pitched screaming is the funniest thing on the entire planet, and it will never, ever get old.

What did everyone else think of New Girl‘s Super Bowl episode? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

[Photo via Ray Mickshaw/FOX]

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