Like I said: they were definitely going to start fighting again this week.
But ill-defined threats to stay at a hotel under an assumed name aside, I thought "Nerd" finally gave us a full, vivid look at how Jess and Nick function as a couple. And how do they function as a couple? Surprisingly well!
Though Jess's story was a pretty straight-forward gag about middle school teachers acting like mean, cliquey students, I thought it presented a pretty compelling mystery: how did Jess the adorkable, emotionally conflicted know-it-all and Nick "Julius Pepperwood" Miller come together to form such a healthy, well-balanced couple who just want to look out for each other? I have a theory.
There is a (very) slight tendency in New Girl to kind of re-tool Jess a bit each season. The Jess of New Girl Season 1 was a barely tolerable manic pixie pain-in-the-ass, whereas the Jess of New Girl Season 2 was funnier, less bizarre, less uptight and more likely to join the Three Loft-migos in a hare-brained scheme for the hell of it (or because she didn't know any better herself).
"Paradise Jess" aside, New Girl Season 3 seems to be presenting us with a newer, improved-er Jess who splits the difference between the two older models - though the Jess who drinks until she dances inside an open toilet is pure Season 2, the first few scenes of Jess struggling to impress her new co-workers were so Season 1, it put my teeth on edge.
This new, fairly even-keeled Nick and Jess pairing is possible through this slight re-tweaking of Jess, which has left us with a character fun and relaxed enough (a la Season 2) to love Nick as an equal, but someone still dorky and lost enough to occasionally look to Nick for guidance.
Nick's character has been more realistically inconsistent through the years; sometimes he takes charge and leads the way, and sometimes his roommates are afraid he is going to accidentally drink himself to death or forget to feed himself, which makes his rising-to-the-occasion of protecting Jess as her "old man" totally in character.
Or, you know, maybe this was just two people organically maturing into more competent human beings.
Either way, it was a nice surprise to see that Nick and Jess can really stick to this whole "intense, all-encompassing love" thing, especially after how hard they fought last season to not fall in love. So far, all their concerns seem to have been for naught...but, of course, we still have a whole lot of New Girl Season 3 left to go.
All the night's best New Girl quotes belonged to Schmidt, as usual - though his "two girls, one office party" move seemed to me more reminiscent of Three's Company's Jack Tripper than Don Draper.
And though Winston's turn as a failed cat murderer wasn't exactly what I was looking for when I hoped they'd give Winston meatier parts this season, you know what? I'll take it. And I'll take that frickin' adorable cat, while I'm at it.
Do you think Jess and Nick are going to keep working this well as a team? Do you think Schmidt will be left alone when his romantic charade crumbles? Do you think they'll show more of that cat? (I really loved that cat.)