Yes, there was a song about a cat, a bad Toni Morrison impression, a heated debate about the validity of the moon landing and other pops of New Girl's trademark whimsy - but "Double Date" stands apart in the show's history as the darkest episode of the series to date.
And this is a show that turned an episode about Nick's dead dad into an adorable Elvis karaoke party, so I mean, it went dark for real.
Unlike, say, New Girl Season 2's "Tinfinity," or other previous episodes that dealt with the emotionally tumultuous tumblings of Schmidt and Cece's relationship, there was no soothing treacle here, no "this hurts but everything is gonna be fine" moment, no Queen song to ratchet up the drama and emotions.
In fact, this episode was the exact opposite of "Tinfinity." Instead of that episode's pain of lost potential, "Double Date" was filled with the agony of ruin, of there being no potential left. "Double Date" was brutal.
Even the pacing of "Double Date" was unusual - in the episode's first moments, I thought I was somehow playing in fast forward mode, the talking was so clipped and speedy. Sure, the episode was still stuffed with the standard shmorgasboard of excellent New Girl quotes (there was a great one about a sexual role-playing game involving Southern lawyers that I don't feel quite comfortable transcribing here), but there was a growing sense of bleakness throughout the episode that couldn't be eclipsed by a million horny lawyers in itchy bras.
And at the end, there was nothing but hurt feelings, terrifying emotional threats and an angry man covered in pie, an unequivocally unusual move for the show.
As Jess and Nick have moved into a comfy, stable existence of true love and motorcycle helmet sex, Winston and Schmidt have taken their spots as the truly far-out members of the Loft Force.
Which has been great... for Winston. After two seasons of not having much to do, I feel like I finally got my episode where Winston was truly a star, on equal footing with all the others. His hostile takeover of the communal table at Pica was brilliant, the only pure comedy in this emotionally draining episode. Winston's remove from the loft drama has held his character back from the spotlight in the past, but it worked here, and may prove an asset in the rest of the season. Perhaps in Ferguson the Smoosh-Face Cat, he has finally found his ideal comedy foil. Here's to hoping.
But for Schmidt, the change has been less beneficial; he's someone who's spent a good decade laboring to just be a regular dude, and with that taken away from him, I feel like all bets are off.
And so, while this episode had fewer gags-per-minute than usual and was hard to watch at times, I thought it was an important accomplishment: this may be the first network TV show to tackle what happens to the late-20s friendship units when some people pair off and others are left all alone. The real result isn't something cute from Friends that ends in hugs and a pet monkey - the truth is probably something far uglier and more complex.
And we may be about to see it play out. As Nick and Jess ended the episode further confirming their love for each other while Schmidt stomped off, fuming in peach cobbler, I saw closing of ranks within the loft Will this be war? Is winter coming?
Is the future of the couple known as "Jessick" (or "Ness," if you prefer) in danger? Should we take Schmidt at his word? If he leaves the loft, will he be replaced by Ferguson the Cat?
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