New Girl Season 4 Episode 12 Review: “Shark”

New Girl 4.12

After Season 3 was essentially, for better and worse, the Nick and Jess show, New Girl has been much more interested in changing up its character pairings in Season 4. However, one duo in particular has appeared to become a favorite of the writers: Jess and Schmidt.

It’s easy to understand why the New Girl writing team would find Jess and Schmidt such an appealing option, as their opposing personalities provide some excellent comedic moments and bring out the best in both Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield’s performances. That was certainly the case last night, as Jess and Schmidt found themselves on opposite sides again when it came to how they should try to convince Councilwoman Fawn Moscato (guest star Zoe Lister Jones) to stop the nighttime construction outside of the loft. Schmidt insisted that he would have to be a shark and wine and dine the councilwoman in order to get what they wanted; Jess, meanwhile, embraced the philosophy of the dolphin and used her mind to fix the situation.

Similar to “Dice,” New Girl does a nice job in “Shark” of illustrating the differences between Jess and Schmidt but also making it clear that these differences only enrich the pair’s friendship (and by extension, each other). One should neither be a shark nor a dolphin but instead a hybrid of the two (so a “sharphin” or a “dark”?). Similarly, Jess and Schmidt are both at their best when they demonstrate qualities that the other possesses.

Again, going back to “Dice,” this is akin to the idea that Jess needs to put herself first more (and we’ve seen that she has this season in her relationship with Ryan), while Schmidt needs to allow people, particularly women, to be more than objects he uses for his satisfaction (which he has done with his friendship with Cece, one of the best developments that has occurred in Season 4). Sure, Schmidt is still attracted to more superficial qualities, shown here in this episode by Councilwoman Moscato, but he also understands the difference between a relationship like this and the connection he has with someone like Cece–that’s huge progress, and Jess has certainly played a role in it.

And maybe it’s that theme of “friends helping friends” that can somehow connect the two central storylines of “Shark” (although I’m probably stretching that idea pretty thin), as Coach and Nick’s worries about Winston are quite amusing but feel like something out of a different episode. There’s no real attempt here by the writers to tie Nick and Coach’s concern over Winston’s small (but strong) training officer Aly (guest star Nasim Pedrad) with Jess and Schmidt’s dolphin versus shark debate. Instead, this feels more like the New Girl writers needed to find something for Nick and Coach to do, and they thought, “Well, this is would be fun,” which is definitely is but its lack of thematic connection with the A-plot makes “Shark” feel more like the sum of its parts instead of one cohesive whole.

Still, it’s good to see Winston get a win for once (I cheered along with characters when his name finally got announced), and I look forward to seeing what his adventures on the police force will be like, especially if Perdad returns as Aly. Similarly, I hope we get to see more of Nick and Coach in the family support group, because if there’s one thing that can elevate even the most average episodes of New Girl, it’s Jake Johnson hilariously yelling out gibberish like he does in one of the final scenes of “Shark.” Nick being Nick doesn’t need any sort of tie-in with theme or plot–it just needs to keep being funny, something that New Girl has consistently been throughout Season 4.

Other thoughts:

– Julian Morris as Ryan has been a great addition to the New Girl cast. Jess and Ryan’s whole construction worker routine was the biggest laugh of the episode for me. Also, “This is America! Wear pants!” was a fantastic line delivery by Damon Wayans Jr.

– Coach and Nick going back and forth with short jokes about Aly was so funny. My favorite had to be Coach’s line about she could “drown in a raindrop.” I also loved how Nick got frustrated when he couldn’t come up with anymore good ones and resorted to calling her a pepperoni.

– Jess didn’t like being all mischievous in this episode: “I felt like Evil Winston. Remember when Winston was evil for that week?” Also, can we please see Evil Winston at some point, either a reappearance of him or in a flashback? He sounds hilarious.

– Lamorne Morris continues to be the show’s MVP with Winston’s sarcastic and then sincere “Thank You” and this line to Schmidt: “You are under ha-rest.”

– Schmidt has issues with how Jess perceives the Jolly Green Giant, and he lets her know it: “The Jolly Green Giant? He doesn’t stomp on people–he encourages them to eat their vegetables.”

– “I have seen the Bollywood movies and the U.K. Office. Not a fan, not a fan.”

What did everyone else think of last night’s episode of New Girl?

[Photo via FOX]

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