The cast of New Girl feels like it has grown a great amount since the show premiered in September. Nick’s ex Caroline seems like forever ago, and with the exception of a perfectly placed Happy Endings reference this episode, we’ve all but forgotten the old roommate Coach. While last week’s “Tomatoes” felt false with the main characters falling into old habits that didn’t seem true to their growth, this week’s “Backslide” has mistakes that feel more natural to who these characters are now.
We pick up with Jess where we left off, as she’s down from her break-up with Russell and to the dismay of her roommates, playing Joni Mitchell’s “The River” over and over again. Schmidt gets the pain that Jess is going through, what with a broken penis and all. Nick is back together with Caroline, which irritates the roommates even more than the 24-hour “The River”-athon, and Winston, well, Winston now has a earring.
In a moment of weakness, Jess calls Paul for a one-night stand, leading her to find out that Paul now has a girlfriend, an apparently Asian version of Jess named Jen. Schmidt and Cece go to visit Cece’s grandma, because any other activity, and I mean any activity at all, causes problems with Schmidt’s injury. Caroline, in a rushed effort to start back where she was with Nick, asks Nick if he’ll move in with her.
All of these three core stories work themselves out in fantastic ways. Jess believes that she and Paul had originally gotten together at the wrong time, but it turns out Paul was only a little off on who he should have been with and proposes with Jess’ help, after also admitting he cheated on Jen. Thankfully, the injured dick jokes of Schmidt actually add up to something, as we realize that he is now excited by the idea of emotional intimacy with Cece.
The biggest and most important of these stories, the Nick-Caroline story, has the episode’s funniest moments, while also being the one that will leave the most lasting impression on the group. When Nick tells Winston of his idea to move in with Caroline, Winston calls on Schmidt to help hold down Nick to show him a DVD he made for himself two years ago, if he were to ever get back together with Caroline. This video is crazy Nick at his best, with a long beard and writing short, but insulting poetry (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, because a summer’s day is not a bitch.”) As current Nick argues with the recorded Nick, we know what his choice will be, even before he admits to Jess that he is moving out.
At this point, we’re seeing where the second season will probably go. Jess is now in an almost Nick-like position, depressed from her Russell break-up and willing to engage in one-night stands. Schmidt and Cece will be the show’s couple, regardless of any problems they have, because frankly Winston and Shelby can’t compete at a Schmidt level of crazy. With Nick, it’s pretty clear this isn’t going to be resolved this season and will at least cause a rift for the beginning of the second season.
The core of “Backslide” is the idea of past relationships and if there is a right time and a wrong time for these relationships to occur. Jess realizes that there was never really a right time for her and Paul, yet Nick believes that this is his and Caroline’s time, regardless of what Past Nick may say about it. We’ve seen how much the group hates Caroline, especially Schmidt and Winston, and clearly Jess has the strongest friendship with Nick, so this destruction of the core four will be intriguing in the final episode of the season next week.