‘New Girl’ Season 4 Episode 16 Recap: “Oregon”

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“Oregon” is the sort of road trip episode of New Girl. We don’t get the silly misadventures of the gang on various modes of transportation while trying to get from Point A to Point B (OK, we get one scene like that). But it does find everyone in a new place — Portland, Oregon to be exact — which launches them out of their comfort zone and forces them to interact with people they normally wouldn’t. With the escape from their normal lives, everyone has a bit more time to contemplate, leading to some revelations.

The reason everyone goes to Portland is for a wedding between Jess’ father (Rob Reiner) and Jess’ high school nemesis (Katilin Olson). The wedding isn’t the most important thing here, but instead the focus is — of course — on the roommates’ romantic lives. Last week, Jess made the big decision to move in with her new-ish boyfriend Ryan only to have that plan thwarted by a combination of a) Ryan getting a dream job in England and b) the fact that the show is about her living with three-four guys so obviously she’s not leaving the loft. Jess and Ryan are attempting to do a long distance relationship (Jess praises this decision because it means she doesn’t have to shave her legs every day) but it’s proving to be very difficult, especially because of the time difference. But they’re still trying and Jess is excited to see Ryan at the wedding.

When they get to Portland, however, Ryan calls to let Jess know that he isn’t coming because he would only have a day, he has to get back to work, it’s just not worth it, etc. etc. Ryan basically just moved and the two are already having issues with the distance. Jess is understandably upset and not very good at masking it but, luckily, she’s surrounded by all of her friends who go on a mission — spearheaded by Nick — to cheer her up, agreeing to go on the personalized tour of Portland Jess was planning for Ryan. They eventually wind up at Jess’ childhood home where her mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) has planned an elaborate, British-centric welcoming for Ryan. Jess breaks the news that Ryan isn’t coming and the two try their best not to let their emotions get the best of them but, well, these are Day women and that’s impossible for that. When Jess’ mother starts crying, so does Jess, leaving the two messes insisting they are both fine as the rest of the gang stares on helplessly. To break the tension, Winston even suggests using the time to take a quick poll on the whole Cosby thing. (What a weird joke to insert there! A strange reference!)

Like so many people do in times of relationship crises or just when visiting back home (and Jess is consumed by both), Jess regresses back to being an angsty teen and retreats to her bedroom (covered in Lilliths Fair posters) to curl up in a ball, sulk, and feel sorry for herself. Nick, being good ol’ Nick, tries to cheer her up but Nick, being good ol’ Nick, mostly makes things worse because his motivational speech is kind of just depressing and discouraging, mostly just telling her that maybe long distance relationships aren’t the best option in the world.

Meanwhile, Cece is adorably dealing with her ongoing childhood crush on Jake Apex in Portland, still stuttering as much as an adult as she did as a teen when he talks to her. Schmidt takes it upon himself to help Cece out by being her wingman, but this all makes Cece more aware of the fact that she’s not over Schmidt (which Winston has already guessed, and he won’t let up on it). It’s a cute storyline that I have no real qualms with except it unfortunately reminds me that Cece’s storylines are so often revolved around getting her and Schmidt back together.

There are some wedding-episode high jinks such as Jess (who is the best man, because her father always wanted a son; her middle name is even Christopher) forgetting the rings at her mother’s house. When Coach and Nick ride a tandem bike (they’re in Portland, remember?) to get them, they find Jess’ mother tripping on acid.

Everything ends up OK, though, and we get two important plot developments: Jess breaks up with Ryan (to his voicemail!) and Cece admits, finally, that she’s in love with Schmidt. Now maybe New Girl will get a little momentum.