Jess and Nick were never the heart of New Girl. For a while they appeared to be as they took over the majority of Season 3 with the beginnings of their romantic relationship and then the end of it. They were often the core of the show — Jess is, after all, the titular New Girl — but it was clear from day one that this sitcom works better as an ensemble piece. The roommates as one collective group (and I include Cece in this even though she’s still vastly underused) are the real heart of New Girl. The friendship is what keeps the show afloat and what keeps me coming back, as evidenced by this season premiere.
At the end of Season 2, my main concern was how New Girl was going to handle Nick and Jess finally getting together. At the end of Season 3, my concern was how they are going to spend a season with these two broken up but living together, simultaneously good friends but dealing with that lingering awkwardness — especially when it comes to dating other people. “The Last Wedding” is aware of these problems and quickly tackles them but keeps it real enough to not provide any easy fixes.
“The Last Wedding” shows what I love so much about New Girl: silly friends doing silly things and endlessly supporting each other. At the center of the episode is a pact that all five roommates will hook up with someone at the wedding they’re attending. They’ve been to so many weddings over the summer yet not all of them were taking full advantage of the situation (Jess has an odd encounter with a dog and Nick made out with a bridesmaid who wore a hospital bracelet and carried around a dead goldfish which is maybe the most hilarious mental image in the world). But Schmidt, Cece-less Schmidt, is back to being himself and demands that they all go home with someone that night. Of course, this proves to be much harder than expected.
For Coach, he has already hooked up with every woman at the wedding. For Nick and Schmidt, their only option is a fourway with two bridesmaids but Nick is obviously hesitant, only tentatively agreeing once he finds out Cece is single again and that has the potential to wreck Schmidt. For Winston, well, he’s Winston and New Girl is still mostly “whatever” about him. And for Jess, she’s in a fierce competition with Kat (Jessica Biel, who is not exactly a gifted comedic actress but can play the deadpan genius) for best man Ted (Reid Scott).
Sitcom weddings are always a great setting for easy laughs and New Girl definitely uses this to its advantage. There are funny jokes throughout like Nick’s back-and-forth on the fourway (and Winston’s elaborate demonstration with the salt and pepper shakers), Nick’s tap shoes (amazing running joke), and Jess’ always-awkward attempts to flirt with someone — this episode introduced the wonderful concept of “The Joe Biden,” a flirting move in which someone is just simply there, always, though Jess takes this to the extreme and ends up in the men’s bathroom with Ted.
But it was obvious from the beginning that no one was going to hook up at this wedding. That was never the point. The two most important things in “The Last Wedding” are the sweet conversation between Jess and Nick and the cute ending. There is always going to be some awkwardness between exes, especially ones that don’t get the chance to get space from each other, but the bathroom conversation where Nick reassures Jess is such a wonderful scene, showing that these two are going to be friends no matter what. Who knows if they’ll end up together again — all that matters is that they’re friends. Then there is the ending that shows what New Girl is all about, that really gets at the heart of the comedy: No one goes home alone because they all have each other. Maybe it’s too neat of an ending but I’ll take it.