New Girl Season 5 Episodes 21 & 22 Review: “Wedding Eve”/”Landing Gear”

New Girl Season 5 Episodes 21 & 22 Review: “Wedding Eve”/”Landing Gear”

New Girl

New Girl Season 5 has been one of the best and most interesting seasons of the FOX sitcom yet. In a lot of ways, it was a season about the future, a season in which characters made major changes and took big steps forward in life. Schmidt and Cece got married, Nick took on a more serious role at the bar (and grew up a lot in the process, even if he still can’t give a good Best Man speech), Winston became more comfortable with his job as a police officer and found love with Aly, his partner, and Jess impulsively quit her job as vice principal and found a new position at a school that she enjoys even more.

Yet despite how much New Girl and its characters may have been looking ahead to what’s next, there has also been a great emphasis on the past, particularly in the show’s most recent episodes. Not only did we have Cece moving out of her apartment and reflecting on her and Jess’s experiences together there, but we also had Schmidt dealing with the abandonment issues he had with his dad. However, even more obvious than either of those was Jess’s relationship with Sam, as the two of them essentially tried to rewrite the past and give their romance another shot with Nick seemingly no longer there to get in the way of it.

But any New Girl fan out there knew that Jess’s history with Nick would never go away, and that even though their relationship hadn’t been romantic for nearly two seasons (aside from the hints dropped by the sex mug in last season’s finale) it would still play a major role not just in the final stretch of this season but in the seasons to come of New Girl. Although Jess was absent from many of Season 5’s early episodes, due to Zooey Deschanel’s pregnancy, she and Nick still remained the heart of the show, even when New Girl was telling great stories about Nick and Schmidt, Schmidt and Cece, or Winston and Aly, so it shouldn’t be surprising that so much of the action of tonight’s episodes revolves around Jess’s feelings for Nick.

“Wedding Eve” is the more fun and wacky of the two half hours, with Jess suggesting a game of True American the night before Schmidt and Cece’s wedding after she finds a ring in Sam’s jacket pocket and believes that he plans on proposing. This episode is more about how many goofy and entertaining things can happen during the game and the crazy excuses that Jess makes up to avoid talking to Sam, until it lands the double gut-punch near the end, where Sam breaks up with Jess because he’s still in love with Diane and Cece breaks down in front of Schmidt because her mom won’t be at the wedding. Both of these developments catapult Jess and Schmidt into their central storylines for “Landing Gear,” as Jess struggles with her re-emerging feelings for Nick, and Schmidt travels to Portland to convince Cece’s mom to come to the wedding. These final scenes of  are much more serious than the rest of the lighthearted, drama-free episode, in which the biggest conflict is probably Winston mistaking Aly’s food poisoning for rejection (which then leads to them saying “I love you” after Coach convinces him to go and talk with her).

Of the two episodes, “Landing Gear” is the weightier, more emotional of the two, even though it’s still filled with hilarious moments like Nick believing that Hogwarts is a real place and Winston battling his inner prankster. Even though Schmidt can’t be there physically for his own wedding party, since his plane is stuck in Portland with no landing gear, Cece and the rest of the group carry him around on an iPad so that he can still partake in the frivolity, and then they throw him the wedding he dreamed of and deserves once he arrives back at the loft in the middle of the night.

It’s stated multiple times throughout “Landing Gear” how far Schmidt has gone and will always go to make Cece happy (I loved the reveal that he had been calling her mom every Monday and leaving her voicemails about how much he loves her daughter), and Season 5 has proven that, as storylines centered on the now happily married couple were some of the best stories New Girl delivered this year. Still though, while it’s rewarding as a viewer to see how Schmidt has grown into a more mature and selfless individual, it’s even better when he’s “rewarded” (for lack of a better word) by getting the chance to marry Cece with his friends and family in attendance. Nick handing him the Douchebag Jar as the glass to break at the end of the ceremony isn’t just a funny callback for fans that have been watching New Girl since it premiered; it’s also a symbol of how much Schmidt has evolved over the course of the sitcom’s five seasons. He’s transformed not only into a person that loves Cece but into someone who deserves her love back; as he tells her while he’s stuck on the plane, that’s all he needs in his life.

Similar to Schmidt, Jess also acts selflessly throughout “Landing Gear,” as she helps convince Reagan to go all in on a relationship with Nick, despite her resurfacing feelings for her ex. When Jess speaks with Reagan about Nick, we can see her realizing how much she still cares about him, as she acknowledges that the problems they had during their relationship in Season 3 maybe weren’t as bad as the two of them made them out to be. But instead of proclaiming that she’s in love with Nick again or suggesting that they give it another shot, Jess encourages Reagan and Nick to be with each other, knowing that it’s what will make him happiest right now.

The biggest moment that comes from this storyline is when Jess tells Nick that he’s incredible and that he needs to start seeing himself how other people view him. While Schmidt has been there to help his best friend mature and evolve throughout Season 5, it’s clear that Nick still hasn’t really believed in himself until Jess tells him to. Yet again, the two of them are there for each other in their worst moments, always doing what they can to not only make each other happier but to better each other, proving why they remain the heart and soul of New Girl after all these years.

So what will happen now with Nick planning on joining Reagan in New Orleans for three months? Is that how he’ll spend his summer, while Jess remains in L.A., still wrestling with her feelings for them? Will Reagan and Nick still be an item when New Girl Season 6 kicks off (which would mean more appearances from Megan Fox)? Will we finally see Nick and Jess rekindling their romance in the sitcom’s sixth season?

New Girl weddings always bring Nick and Jess closer together (I’m just happy this one went better for Cece than her last one did; well, at least until the honeymoon with Winston “Prank Sinatra” Bishop) We’ll have to wait to see what happens next for them and the rest of the show’s marvelous cast of characters, but one thing is for sure: both “Wedding Eve” and “Landing Gear” are incredibly funny, romantic, and heartwarming episodes to finish out what has been an terrific season of television. Here’s hoping Season 6 is just as great.

Other thoughts:

  • If I have one complaint about tonight’s two-part finale, it’s that so much is crammed into both of these episodes that there isn’t a lot of room for storylines to breathe. However, even though it’s all a little rushed, the emotional moments work so well that I can forgive the pacing.
  • Take note, sitcom writers: New Girl Season 5 is how you build to a satisfying and romantic wedding without it overtaking the entire show. I loved how much focus Schmidt and Cece got this season, and that all their wedding planning provided Hannah Simone with more moments to shine. Here’s hoping she gets even more opportunities in Season 6.
  • Between Nick getting into a relationship at the end of the episode, Winston’s poor pranking skills, and a whole lot more, I enjoyed how “Landing Gear” had little similarities to “Elaine’s Big Day” without them being too overt.
  • What’s better: Nick mixing up “stag” with “drag” or his awful attempts at saying “Schmidt’s asleep”?
  • I don’t know if Zooey Deschanel has delivered a line better on New Girl than when Jess calls Winston a “bird-shirted puzzle baby.”
  • Again, both of these episodes were a little crowded and chaotic, but I’m glad that Coach got a couple of great moments with the group, especially when he convinced Winston to go see Aly. I wish Damon Wayans Jr. would stop by the show more often.
  • Speaking of Winston and Aly, they may have been my favorite part of Season 5. It’s so refreshing to see Winston actually get the girl for once, and Nasim Pedrad has been a fantastic addition to New Girl cast. Here’s hoping she sticks around next season.
  • Nick cares about Schmidt so much that he’s even willing to adopt a new strategy for True American: “We play fast and sober. Then back to work. Who the hell have I become?”
  • Coach doesn’t yell in New York anymore because everyone yells there, so it’s less meaningful. Also, he’s always in museums.
  • “He’s a serious man now. He doesn’t prank anymore. Just look at his eyes. All the mischief’s gone.”
  • “I don’t mean this as anti-Jewish at all, but that Saint Jew dance has ruined our lives.”
  • And that will do it for New Girl Season 5! Thanks to everyone who reads and comments on these reviews. I absolutely love covering this show, and I’ll see you all back here for Season 6!

What did everyone else think about tonight’s New Girl finale and Season 5 as a whole? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Adam Taylor/FOX]

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