New Girl Season 4 Episode 22 Review: “Clean Break”

New Girl

In many ways, New Girl Season 4 was about the characters (and the show itself) moving forward: trying new things, dating new people, and attempting to forget about anything that had gone wrong before. Jess, Nick, and the rest of the members of the loft were doing everything they could to live better and be better than who they used to be, that whatever awaited them in the future would bring them greater happiness than what had caused them pain in the past. And all of this is why “Clean Break” is such a fitting ending to what’s been a fantastic season of television, as New Girl‘s characters realize that they can’t and don’t want to forget about the past and instead find themselves embracing it in many different ways.

For Coach, who is readying to leave for New York with May, it’s in the objects throughout the loft that evoke memories of him and his friends spending time together. Despite his insistence on needing a “clean break,” Coach soon discovers that this type of cold method won’t work this time. Unlike the many places that he lived during his childhood, the loft truly became his home after he moved back into it, and Nick, Schmidt, Winston, and Jess (who he won’t be calling Jebecca again, thanks to her “Jess Cube”) were and are his family.  Even though he’s embarking on a new adventure with May, holding on to old belongings and reminiscing about the times he shared with his former roommates won’t make him feel sad or displaced like has throughout so much of his life; instead, they’ll act as familiar sources of comfort and warmth as he gets used to a new, different place.

Although it doesn’t exactly bring the same type of “comfort and warmth” as some of Coach’s things might, Jess and Nick’s “sex mug” serves a similar purposes. The mug not only acts as a symbol of the pair’s past (and current) attraction to one another, something New Girl hasn’t really explored too much throughout  this season, but as a reminder of how much they loved each other while they were together and how much they still do care for each other now, even as friends. Jess and Nick’s relationship will always be complicated and messy because of their feelings for one another, and even if both of them going to take the mug out of the trash isn’t a clear indicator that they could be on their way to a reunion in Season 5, it’s at least an act of recognition of how important their relationship was to each of them while they were in it, and of hope that they someday may be able to get back there again.

But while Jess and Nick may or may not be getting back together at some point soon, Schmidt and Cece do reunite in “Clean Break,” and they’re not just dating–they’re engaged. If there is one main arc in Season 4, more so than Jess and Nick’s recovery from their break-up and Winston and Coach’s searches for a deeper purpose in their lives, it has been the evolution of Schmidt. After his horrid behavior in Season 3, New Girl‘s fourth season has rehabilitated the character and allowed him to rise from the proverbial ashes.

And the best part about Schmidt’s rehabilitation in Season 4 is that it has been completely honest and genuine; there was no intention on his part to get Cece back or to achieve some sort of superficial goal. No, this season Schmidt became a better guy just to be a better guy, and through his friendship with Cece, the pair created a relationship that was even stronger than the one that had existed between them before. Instead of being mainly based on sexual attraction (although that’s of course still a major factor with these two), Schmidt and Cece’s newfound connection has been born out of a respect, admiration, and love for one another, and all of this is why Schmidt’s marriage proposal, no matter how spontaneous, works so incredibly well (and the earlier flashback with the five-dollar bill plays out splendidly as we get to see the full scene right as Schmidt gets down on one knee).

So while “Clean Break” spends a lot of its running time reflecting on the past, it actually springs New Girl into the future for its fifth season, with one less roommate in the loft, a potential romantic reconnection, and what should be one heck of a wedding on the horizon. This season began with all of these single friends attending the last wedding of the season, all the invitations plastered onto their fridge, but now two of them will be soon be walking down the aisle and saying their own vows. It’s a sign that this group of wacky, weird 30-somethings is starting to grow up, and that New Girl, as a comedy, is heading into new, uncharted waters. After a terrific season like the one it just had, I can’t wait to see what this show has in store for us this fall.

Other thoughts:

– I didn’t talk about Winston much in my review, but he has so many great moments in this episode, from his selfies with Ferguson to the message he left for Cece. However, my favorite Winston moment had to be when he and Coach were crying over the remote and how he would always press the “info”  button. “It’s not by mistake, Coach. I just like to know more about the cast and crew.”

– Schmidt and Cece’s engagement scene was really, really beautiful. One of the best things I’ve seen on TV all year. Great work by Max Greenfield and Hannah Simone.

– Everything with Nick and Jess in the finale was also wonderful. Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel have some of the best chemistry on TV. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I hope New Girl gives the Nick/Jess relationship another go at some point next season.

– I’m really going to miss Coach. Damon Wayans  Jr. brought a fantastic energy to New Girl that will be irreplaceable. I’ve been a big fan of his since Happy Endings, so whatever he does next, you know I’ll be watching.

– That was Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock (along with many other thing as well) as Wally, the donation collector  that Schmidt argues with. He brought a little something extra to a pretty small role.

– I hope that somewhere out there Regis Philbin crepe pans are a real thing. If not, someone go make them right now, please.

– That was “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart playing at the end of the finale, and if you’re a Chuck fan like me, that song brought back some serious emotions. And if you haven’t already seen Chuck, stop what you’re doing and start watching it right now on Netflix.

– “I’m gonna get hard and fix myself.” “Can you get harder for me? Do you need me to get harder with you?”

– And that brings us to the end of another season of New Girl. To anyone and everyone who has read, commented on, or shared these reviews, thanks so much. New Girl is my absolute favorite show to write about for TVOvermind, and I’m looking forward to diving back into it when Season 5 begins. Have a great summer, and I’ll see you all in the fall!

What did everyone think about New Girl‘s season finale and Season 4 as a whole? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

[Photo via FOX]

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