New Girl Season 4 Episode 20 Review: “Par 5”

New Girl Season 4 Episode 20 Review: “Par 5”

New Girl

Many times in life, people try to be something they’re not in order gain what they want, whether it be power, romance, or, in Jess’s case, some new computers for a school, but pretty much anytime someone tries to put on act in order to achieve some type of goal it doesn’t work out. Whatever you’re going for, whatever you desire so badly that you would try to be someone different than who you are, is never worth it, and that’s the message that all three of New Girl‘s central storylines were preaching last night: be yourself.

However, while all three stories on this week’s New Girl shared that same similar idea, that doesn’t mean that the series did a great job at exploring all of them. Ultimately, “Par 5,” much like last week’s episode of New Girl, feels like a lot of underdeveloped parts mashed together in one half hour, an installment that doesn’t really give the time and focus necessary to all the stories it’s trying to tell, particularly the one that references some major real life events.

And let’s start with that more serious story, which involves Winston pretending he’s not a cop in order to try to date a girl he meets while he’s out with Nick and Coach. The aforementioned girl is named Casey and she’s an anti-police demonstrator, and while it’s funny to see Winston hide the LAPD logo on the back of his shirt and pretend he’s a stripper when the two of them run into some of his buddies from the squad while out at lunch, this storyline also leads to a more serious discussion of racism between Winston, Nick, and Coach.

However, while Lamorne Morris (who co-wrote this episode) allows for New Girl to get an important part of the conversation out there (the fact that Nick is not black and, therefore, cannot understand exactly what Winston and Coach have gone through their entire lives), it fails to engage with these issues in a more deep or profound way. Winston describing how he would run from the police when he was younger, even if he wasn’t doing anything, definitely possesses some emotional power, but any resonance that statement has is lost in a sea of ridiculous (although hilarious) Eddie Murphy and Jerry Seinfeld impressions before the whole story simply becomes about Winston not denying who he truly is. And while Winston’s pride in being a police officer and believing that he can do a good job, a better job, than maybe some of those who came before him is a strong and powerful story for his character, there’s not enough here–and not enough digging into the seriousness of the conversation that he, Nick, and Coach have–to really make this whole plot feel worth it. I applaud New Girl‘s efforts to tackle such a serious subject–sitcoms have as much of a right to deal with “bigger issues” like these as dramas do–but it just comes up a little bit short.

The other two stories of the night, Jess attempting to fit in with Fawn’s politician friends at a golf charity event and Cece helping Schmidt bronze himself for Fawn (which, of course, goes horribly wrong), are light and funny and goofy in all the best New Girl ways. The comedic talents of Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield never fail to make me laugh (although I was surprised by how much comedic mileage New Girl could get out of having Jess be so terrible at golf), but neither of their characters’ stories really exist above the surface.

For the most part, “Par 5” is just another take on Jess being true to herself in the face of the easier and less moral road that lies ahead of her, something we’ve seen many times before and done in much better ways. Additionally, the episode doesn’t really give Schmidt a “big moment” of realization either, instead having Cece tell him that he’s good enough as he is, which is a sweet and honest moment but one that fails to really bring about any change in Schmidt. By the end of the episode, he’s still with Fawn, and even though he tells her that he likes her for who she is and she appears to be attempting to do the same after her wardrobe malfunction while golfing (a mishap that definitely brought her down to earth a bit), neither of those developments carries too much weight. We know this is all setup for a Schmidt and Cece reunion, and I’d rather the writers take us in that direction sooner than make Schmidt’s character look weak or clueless, all so they can have save the big romantic rekindling for the season finale.

For the second week in a row, New Girl remains entertaining but also a bit shallow. Sorely lacking in these two most recent episodes is the depth and emotion we saw in instalments like “The Crawl” and “Oregon.” Here’s hoping these final few episodes of the season can rediscover that perfect balance of humor and heart that the series does so well.

Other thoughts: 

– Winston describing how dangerous soups are to lunchtime strippers compared to salads made this whole episode pretty much worth it.

– Another highlight from “Par 5”: whatever Royal Court game/act Jess and Coach were doing near the beginning of the episode. Especially because it led to this exchange between Nick and Coach: “Who are you in this story?” “I’m the jester.”

– The way Max Greenfield pronounces words is the best. When Schmidt was telling Cece about how they had to put bronzer all the over his cracks, crevices, and “caboose,” I laughed incredibly hard, and that’s all because of how Greenfield said those words. However, I don’t think anything will ever top his pronunciation of “buttons.”

– Schmidt has Fawn’s number saved as “Fawn Muscato, City Council” in his phone, because of course he does.

– These episodes need more Nick Miller.

– “It’s a clip on, ladies.” “I wear my underwear two sizes too big.” Winston Bishop, the world’s greatest stripper, everyone.

– “I feel like I’m watching a porn set in an HR department.”

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of New Girl?

[Photo via FOX]

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