Welcome back to my weekly New Girl recap/review! To catch up on last week’s episode, check out my previous coverage here. There are a few spoilers in this week’s coverage, so proceed with caution.
With Jess Day gone from the mix, I have both missed her and appreciated how well the rest of the gang was showcased in her absence. Last week, it seemed as if things were all blue skies and sunshine for New Girl, but we took a tiny dip with “Reagan.”
The boys club is having relationship woes. Nick wants a fairytale romance, fit with the swelling music, the parting clouds and, what he calls, “the magic.” And Winston wants it too. Except his fantasy is more “dork magic,” involving metal bras, flying horses and swords. As for Schmidt, the only guy in the loft safe from the difficulty and unpredictability of single life, the green monster has begun to haunt him. Jealous of every man — or woman — who hits on Cece, Schmidt begins acting irrationally, and in true Schmidt fashion: miming the Nick Cannon drum solo from Drumline, sucking on a giant block of cheese, giving himself an anxious pep-talk in front of the mirror.
On a mission to find the magic, and desperate to rid himself of the overwhelming envy and worry he feels, both Nick and Schmidt — and Winston, too — project their emotions on someone brand new.
Enter Reagan Lucas (Megan Fox), the pharmaceutical representative in a tight black skirt, the one who can make the perfect old-fashioned and is a bit of a “lone wolf.” She’s also openly bisexual, having had a romantic/sexual past with Cece at the MTV Beach House in 2003. While Cece’s sexuality is never discussed — Schmidt only states in regards to the situation that he “appreciates the fluidity of sexuality” — the direct declaration of Reagan’s identity was a standout moment for me in this episode. No skirting around, no nonchalant, “I refuse to label myself” remarks. Though I do understand people who actually don’t want to use labels, for any number of reasons, and know that a label-free identity is valid on its own, I was happy to see bisexuality being shown as straight-forward (no pun intended) as heterosexuality or homosexuality often is in film and television. Representation matters!
Regarding the rest of Reagan’s characteristics, I was in the middle of the road most of the time. At times, she seemed sweet — helping Schmidt make amends with Cece after a stress-induced argument, agreeing to move in with the gang after they make a grand gesture to win her over — but she still carried that thread of the “mean/tough girl who’s unattainable” trope that Megan Fox is well-known for playing. Fox does it well, though; she is a talented actress. But for now, Reagan feels a little static and underwhelming. Hopefully in the coming episodes we can see her hardened exterior soften a bit as she spends more time with the arguably too-soft gang. As you can likely tell, I’m all for character development, no matter the length of a character’s run on the show. Reagan Lucas is not exempt from my evolution wishes!
The rest of the episode sees Nick trying (and failing) to install a rain shower, Schmidt giving Cece a metaphorical ring of trust and Winston’s partner Ally insisting to him and Nick that Reagan isn’t “magic,” she’s just a hot girl who knows how to get free drinks.
“Reagan” wasn’t a terrible episode, but it wasn’t anything truly spectacular either. The successful and enjoyable formula the writers had kept up throughout the past few episodes — bring in guest stars, see how the gang fares in tending to them and to their own personal qualms — took a turn. This episode shifted from the quick-paced stuff of great sitcoms into loftier plot-lines with less payoff and — dare I say — less believability. Some of the motivations, mainly everyone’s commitment to Reagan, came out of left field. Physical attractiveness and no-nonsense nature (arguably a good attribute in a potential roommate) aside, Reagan doesn’t initially seem all that charming. After just four hours of knowing or being reintroduced to the woman, the entire gang is taken by her. They so badly want her to move in. I just wondered why, apart from the obvious reasons. Another moment I had an issue with was Schmidt practically begging Reagan to help him win Cece back after he had a bit of a meltdown. I understand Reagan’s role in the fiasco and that she should at least apologize, but essentially having her be Schmidt’s right-hand woman felt unnatural. Usually, when these kinds of situations arise in New Girl, there’s a clear emotional motivation behind characters’ actions. Schmidt’s behavior totally lacked that, and it was disappointing to see.
While I am all for embracing movement and change, it was clear that episode six marked the end of the first act of New Girl’s fifth season. I could feel that shift happening while watching the episode, and though it didn’t pull me completely out of the watching experience, I would be lying if I said it didn’t distract me.
In all, while this week’s episode didn’t have too much to write home about, it was still sprinkled with chuckle-inciting moments and a fairly solid dynamic. It went by quickly — I didn’t realize the episode was nearing the end until I checked the time — but didn’t feel sloppy or purposefully rushed. The episode was only slightly above average for me. Looking ahead, I’m definitely eager to see how Reagan will fit into life at the loft, especially upon Jess’s return, and how the guys and gals can continue on their upward development.
Highlights: “Her number belongs to God now.” “And guess what? We’re both wearing skirts and we’re riding on flying horses.” “She always plays ‘smart cop’ when we play ‘Smart Cop/Dumb Cop.’” “Sax and the City.” “My name is Nick. Nicholas for long.” “You’re gonna have a diamond the size of a raisin!”