New Girl Season 6 Episode 4 Review: “Homecoming”

New Girl

When FOX first announced that New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine would be crossing over this fall, I expected an hour of the type of wacky and wonderful craziness that both shows excel at, with Winston’s career as a LAPD officer somehow bringing him to New York to work alongside Jake, Amy, and rest of the Nine-Nine gang. However, that’s not at all how tonight’s crossover happened, as Jess only shared one scene with Jake in the Brooklyn Nine-Nine half and only bumped into him because he needed to use her car (which was actually Schmidt’s mom’s car) to chase after a criminal, and aside from one brief scene involving Boyle with Nick and Winston, Jess was the only character from New Girl to interact with anyone from the Nine-Nine. All in all, despite my expectations, both shows delivered relatively simple episodes tonight, with outside characters barely having an impact on the various storylines, aside from Holt helping Jess come to the realization that she has late in “Homecoming.”

Still, though, even if the New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossover wasn’t as epic as advertised, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Brooklyn Nine-Nine delivered another solid installment tonight (which you can read about in Laura Schinner‘s review of the episode). Furthermore, New Girl‘s half of the crossover was even better, as both Jess and Schmidt reconciled with their pasts while Nick and Winston brought the comedy with one the show’s simplest and stupidest plots yet.

Instead of it being Winston’s police activities or a trip to visit Coach (more about that later) that brings the loft gang to New York City, it’s actually a high school reunion of sorts for Schmidt that causes our five main characters to hop on a plane to the Big Apple. Schmidt’s four friends accompany him to what they believe is a special event that is honoring him as a distinguished student; however, Schmidt quickly discovers that’s not the case. The event is actually just a big dinner, honoring about 100 alumni, as the school attempts to get them all to donate money, and this revelation transports Schmidt back to his horrible memories of high school, in which the popular kids would not only make fun of his weight but also take advantage of his kindness in any way possible.

Similarly, the trip to New York causes Jess to remember the last time she visited the city, which was so terrible that she actually ended up coming home early from her trip to surprise her then-boyfriend, Spencer. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because that’s how the New Girl pilot began, with Jess trying to surprise Spencer with a sexy dance at their apartment only to discover that he had been cheating on her. That then led to Jess moving in with the guys, resulting in all the weird and wonderful adventures we’ve gotten over the past five-plus years. For much of that first season, Spencer’s shadow hung over Jess, but she hasn’t allowed his cheating to bother her in years. Plus, as she tells Holt in his office, all that pain she went through in her past has helped shape her into the person she is today, just like the humiliation and sadness that Schmidt suffered in high school led him to become the successful, happily married man that he is now.

And really, learning from the past and bettering oneself has been the story for pretty much every New Girl character since the show’s inception. Each member of the loft gang, even including Coach, has gone through many ups and downs over the five-plus seasons of the show, but they’re all in happier, more stable places now than they have ever been before. Even someone like Jess, who is still pining for Nick, has a solid career and wonderful circle of friends to support her, and most importantly, her time in the loft has helped her become a more complete person, someone that has been forced out of her comfort zone for the better. The challenges from her past have not only enabled her to be more prepared for the struggles of today, but they’ve helped her understand and value all the incredible people and things she has in her life right now, even if she doesn’t have everything she wants just yet.

The exact same could be said for Schmidt, who took all the bullying he received when he was younger and channeled it into his passion for his work and friends, or Nick, who has gained more and more confidence over the years as he’s taken on more responsibility; the criticisms from his ex-girlfriend Caroline no longer ring his ears, only the encouragement he receives from friends like Winston, Schmidt, and Jess. That’s what has made New Girl such a satisfying series these past five seasons: the journeys of all of its main characters. They’ve all evolved so much throughout New Girl‘s run that I sometimes wonder where the show will be able to take them next; how much is there left to do for characters like Nick and Cece and Schmidt before it feels like New Girl is just spinning its wheels? We’ll have to wait and see if there comes a point where that is the case, but it hasn’t happened yet and I can’t see it happening anytime soon as long as the New Girl writers continue to craft funny, smart, and emotionally satisfying episodes like “Homecoming.”

Other thoughts:

  • I didn’t get into the specifics of the scene above, but everything that happens at the event at Schmidt’s old high school is pretty much gold, from Schmidt first taking the high road before roasting his fellow alumni (“You just got roasted by The California Kid!”) to Cece joining him on stage and having his back to Schmidt’s mom (the always great Nora Dunn) finally calling Cece her daughter. I absolutely loved it.
  • And just as great as the whole alumni event is Nick and Winston acting like “men of means” and spending so much money that they have to pretend to be street performers to get fare for the subway. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top and stupid, but the comedic talents of Jake Johnson and Lamorne Morris make it the funniest part of the episode, especially when Nick is forced to try and jump over the cones with “I Believe I Can Fly” scoring the scene.
  • As I mentioned in my review, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more interaction between New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s characters, but what we did get was a lot of fun, especially Jess’s scene with Holt. Also, stopping to watch street performers is totally something that Boyle would do, so I was happy that he was included in Nick and Winston’s shenanigans.
  • So I already mentioned Coach a couple of times in my review, but how good was that episode-ending joke, where the gang accidentally runs into him right before they’re about to head home to Los Angeles? Perhaps the best part of the whole scene is when Coach admits that he’s been to LA five times without ever telling them.
  • “Comeuppance! Genuine come-up-the-pants!” Schmidt awkwardly pronouncing words remains one of my very favorite things about New Girl.
  • Jess awkwardly lets Schmidt’s mom know about her very brief romance with her ex-husband and Schmidt’s dad, Gavin, last season. “That’s great. I would kiss you but that would mean I made out with both of Schmidt’s parents.”
  •  “I will take you to the corner of Fairfax and La Brea!” “Those are parallel streets.” “I’m not telling her that.”
  • “Yeah, I feel normal. Most nights I sleep sitting up in my clothes, holding a plastic cup with garbage in it anyhow, so…”

What did you think of the New Girl/Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossover? Did you think the shows worked well together, and would you like to see them cross over again? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Adam Taylor/FOX]

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