Welcome back to my weekly New Girl recap/review! You can check out my previous coverage of episodes eight and nine here. As usual, there are some spoilers in this week’s review, so read at your own risk.
♫ Jess is back, back again. Jess is back, tell a friend. ♫
This week, our original new girl makes her return to the loft and its tenants. And it wouldn’t be a proper return without Jess handing out gifts; this time, each of the gang gets a traffic-cone orange shirt that proudly boasts, “My roommate found the defendant guilty on 4 counts and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” Utter Jessica Day perfection.
The opening scene focuses on Nick and Reagan in the midst of a hallway make-out session, then turns itself on its head when Jess “goes full Goldilocks” as she makes her introduction to Reagan. It was a short teaser before the title card, but it was enough to worry me. Would the episode walk on eggshells around the two girls, hinting at the tension that arises from the implication that Reagan is Jess’s replacement? Or would it be filled with passive aggression until it boiled over into chaos, akin to the baby shower brawl between Jess and Cece in “Girl Fight” from season four? But, staying quite true to the heart of this season, my concerns had little weight and were quickly dispelled. The girls actually get along really well despite their opposing personalities and their “Eskimo sister” connection to one another via their respective relationships with Nick. It was refreshing.
While Jess had a “tops time” during sequestration as an active if not overly-zealous member of the jury, the guys and gals in apartment 4D were a bit distracted with their own pressing matters. Gentle-hearted goofball Nick Miller is having difficulty accepting the fact that Reagan is due to move out, but is partially relieved that their relationship was never complicated with sex. Despite that silver lining, Nick still worries that his nerves and emotions surrounding her departure will cause him to ramble oddities and incoherence, tarnishing his legacy with her. And thus, he decides to keep quiet until the last moment when he can leave her with a lasting memory. He relays this to Schmidt in a comical exchange.
Nick: I’m gonna hit her with a Goosebumps Walkaway.
Schmidt: I don’t know who he is. Is he an old-fashioned baseball player?
Nick: Goosebumps Walkaway is the line that the guy says to the girl in the movie that gives her goosebumps and then he walks away forever.
The boys agree that a successful Goosebumps Walkaway line will haunt and consume Reagan, and will grant Nick (and I quote) “immortality.” When Nick fires off his rough draft line — “Bad-bye, Reagan. Bad-bye.” — Schmidt instructs Nick to craft 40 more lines, 20 of which will be subject to his approval. They’re looking for flawlessness.
Nick is busy with his homework assignment, so Schmidt and Cece join Winston at the Zumba-adjacent dance studio Reckless Abandance (10 points for that wonderful pun) for a little first dance wedding prep. Much to Schmidt’s unease, however, there are no rules at Reckless Abandance — dancers are encouraged to let the music move them. As a former chubby child, Schmidt is terrified of failure; he knows if he misses a single step, he will be cruelly mocked and taunted. Winston eventually has a heart to heart with Schmidt, telling him that he shouldn’t pay any mind to what others may think of him, and that when it comes to Schmidt as a person, the only opinion that really matters is his own. “You’ve got to stop letting childish ridicule control your actions,” Winston says in a poignant moment. He likens life to a suggestion box: though it may be constantly full, the only comment cards that he pays any attention to are the ones he filled out himself, the positive affirmation cards. While something as eloquent as that seems slightly unexpected from Winston, as he’s usually the upper echelon of kooks in the show, it was so fitting. I’ll always love Winston for his dynamism.
Over on the Reagan-Jess front, Jess confesses that she’s fallen in lust with Juror 237-B (Demetri Martin) — whose name we later learn is Gary Garcia — and enlists Reagan as her headhunter/wing-woman in an effort to track him down. Thankfully, Jess remembers a clue that may be key in identifying her courtroom cutie: the juror sitting next to 237-B had asthma. Reagan rings up a doctor, and down the rabbit hole the pair go, one that is speckled with inhalers, a trip to a lawn bowling club and another big confession: Reagan is crazy about Nick. As the hunt for Gary Garcia looks as though it may be fruitless, Jess tells Reagan that she has to tell Nick her true feelings. “Don’t let Miller become your Garcia,” she says. This conversation felt real, natural and meaningful. It was wonderful to see the two girls open up with ease and abandon. Had Reagan not been leaving this episode, I could easily see her and Jess becoming close with that “unlikely friend” dynamic similar to the one that once exists between Cece and Jess.
Now, let’s talk about the ending. That wonderful, golden ending. Jess and Gary end up being interviewed by the same news anchor post-trial, and though their identities are masked by voice-altering software, they recognize one another behind the near-black-out lighting. Gary reveals himself as what Jess had dreamt him to be — Gary of Brentwood. Inspired by Jess’s sincere speech to Gary, Nick is pushed to say “something real” to Reagan before they part. It comes full circle to Nick’s previous Goosebumps Walkaway attempt, in which he says, “Sayonara, Sammy.” Now, that phrase carries meaning for the two and becomes the perfect line. They say their goodbyes, and Reagan catches her flight — wearing the jury shirt Jess gifted her in the beginning of the episode. The beloved five of 4D then dance care-freely to “The Hustle,” leaving me right on the verge of happy tears.
My only upset with “Goosebumps Walkaway” is that we had to bid farewell to Reagan, of whom I had grown quite fond. I just wish the show hadn’t taken so much time warming Reagan up to the group and vice versa. Fox’s departure from the show is bittersweet, and I hope to see her make a return, even if only for an episode or two. But overall, this episode was incredible. Funny and heartfelt, with nothing misplaced or done without reason. It incorporated all the great elements of New Girl‘s strongest episodes and will undoubtedly go down in the show’s history as one of the very best.
Highlights: “Clearly, I make the rules. That’s why my office is a hut.” “He calls ‘hand sanitizer,’ ‘ham sanitizer.'” “Nothing more badass than calling a doctor by his first name.” “This is his dance! And Humpty Hump is his name!” “Is that adult man afraid of you?” “I recognize my mother-freakin’ handwriting.”