New Girl Season 5 Episode 14 Review: “300 Feet”

New Girl Season 5 Episode 14 Review: “300 Feet”

New Girl

When Jess quit her job as vice principal a couple of weeks ago on New Girl, that decision was filled with exciting possibilities. Where would Jess work next? What would her co-workers be like? How would she deal with unemployment before finding another job?

I was very curious to see how New Girl would deal with this storyline, especially since the writers had handled a similar one (when Jess was fired back at the beginning of Season 2) so well before, giving Jess a lot of fun, odd jobs before she found her passion for teaching again. Unfortunately, over the past couple of episodes, New Girl has failed to do anything interesting with Jess; in fact, by pairing Jess up again with Sam, it feels as if both the series and the character are regressing.

Honestly, Jess falling back into a romance with Sam wouldn’t feel as worthless or hollow as it does right now if every other character on New Girl wasn’t evolving and maturing in believable and entertaining ways. However, Season 5 of the FOX sitcom has shown just how far characters like Nick, Schmidt, and Cece have come; even in “300 Feet,” we’re reminded again of Nick’s growth, as Schmidt tells his best friend that he didn’t just invest in a bar–he invested in him. Nick moving forward with the bar, Schmidt and Cece moving forward with their wedding, and even Winston moving forward with his work as a police officer make Jess’s backsliding with Sam all the more noticeable and disappointing.

It also doesn’t help that Jess and Sam have never been one of New Girl‘s best couples. Their relationship during Season 2 mostly worked because it showed Jess’s struggle with casual hook-ups versus serious dating, but it really just served as a placeholder until New Girl could eventually “go there” with Jess and Nick in “Cooler.” The two of them telling each other that they can’t stop thinking about each other doesn’t really hold much weight given how swiftly and simply the series broke them up before; if Jess always had feelings for Nick while she was dating Sam, could she have really cared for him all that much to begin with?

That’s my main problem with “300 Feet”: I don’t believe in Jess and Sam. New Girl is one of the best comedies on TV at crafting real and authentic relationships that viewers can invest themselves in, but this reignited spark between Jess and Sam feels like what their relationship was to begin with: a placeholder. There’s no real substance here, and after Jess was absent for several episodes this season, it’s underwhelming to see her return and immediately be thrown into a lackluster romance. She deserves a better storyline instead of this retread.

Thankfully, the B-plot of “300 Feet” serves as a great example of what New Girl does best: mixing humor with heart. Season 5 has featured a lot of terrific Nick and Schmidt stories, and this week, we’re gifted another one, as the two of them struggle to compete with the cool, new hipster bar that just opened on their street, which is owned by Busy Phillip’s Connie. What starts out as a petty battle between the bars (Nick and Schmidt aren’t happy with the fact that the valet at Connie’s bar is taking parking away from them) eventually becomes something much sweeter and richer, as Nick and Schmidt first clash over the idea of fixing up their bar before Nick realizes what his best friend and business partner really means.

By telling Nick that he not only invested in the bar but also invested in him, Schmidt celebrates Nick’s growth but also encourages him to do more. He understands that his friend has made strides in recent years, but he also knows that Nick can do better; he just doesn’t want to see him settle. Fixing up the bar, which we find out in this episode is called The Griffith (Schmidt didn’t even know its name), isn’t about Schmidt convincing Nick to redecorate or make fancy drinks; it’s about him helping his best friend continue to reach the limitless potential that he has.

Just like Nick, New Girl has proven that it can grow and evolve as a series over the past four and a half seasons, and even as we head into the final stretch of Season 5, a season where many sitcoms begin to show their age, the FOX comedy still has an incredible amount of potential with its fantastic cast and strong group of writers. Let’s just hope New Girl doesn’t waste too much of it on rehashed storylines and gives its main character (and viewers) something to get excited about sooner rather than later.

Other thoughts:

  • So what is next for Jess and Sam? How long do you think they’ll stay together this time? Also, won’t it be awkward now that she’s working with his ex?
  • The one thing that I did really love about the Jess/Sam plot is that his restraining order caused her to consult Winston, who was the best, as always. I particularly enjoyed his switching back and forth between “friend face” and “cop face.”
  • Another great Winston moment: his startled reaction to hearing about the first graders’ rabbit dying. He was so upset about Colonel Flap Ears.
  • At first, I wasn’t a fan of the nutmeg wholesaler joke. It felt like the show was trying too hard, but then it paid off wonderfully in the end when the real wholesaler actually walked in, looking exactly like Nick.
  • Drunk Cece is my favorite Cece.
  • Connie’s backstory is one of the most over-the-top, hilarious things New Girl has ever done, and Busy Phillips absolutely nails the delivery of it.
  • Nick won’t stand for Schmidt’s complaints about the bar toilet that flushes up instead of down. “Okay, that’s an attraction and a lot of our customers actually really like that.”
  • “You know my favorite bar is Hesh’s Tango in Phuket. Their coconut mojitos literally gave me an orgasm. I had to buy new pants.”

What did everyone else think about this week’s New Girl? Are you happy that Jess and Sam are back together? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Adam Taylor/FOX]

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