It’s a reasonably pertinent question for Schmidt to ask: “What are we supposed to do with ourselves? Just go to work tomorrow?” After all, they just partied with Prince. Jess ate pancakes with Prince! Schmidt sums up a hilarious, nonsense episode of “New Girl” perfectly in this rhetorical way.
Everyone finds their path into Prince’s mansion differently, but if Jess and Cece hadn’t been mercy invited by his assistant, who almost ran them over, and Nick hadn’t blurted out “I love you” at limo-loaded Jess, then none of this would’ve happened. Winston and Coach, a.k.a. Fire and Ice, stage an elaborate reunion scene to get into the party. (Notice, Coach goes by Ernie during the scene… because a person named Coach would be less believable?) Nick trojan horses his way in, blending into a group of supermodels. Schmidt takes the less glamourous route through the hedges. It’s all very funny, spare the obnoxious product placement, lines Ford paid Coach to read inside his Ford Fusion, and the unnecessary cameo by Clayton Kershaw.
Much of this episode is ridiculous by nature. It avoids any and all stress or drama by throwing a Prince Party Blanket over a milestone moment in Nick and Jess’ relationship. It suggests the only way Jess can work up the courage to tell Nick she loves him back is by Prince putting her in some kind of trance. (There were so many candles.) It’s not unheard of for a show to trick the L Word out of a character’s mouth. The way “Friends” forces it out of Chandler and Monica remains one of the most memorable ways this is done on television. New Girl’s antics feel cheesy, but appreciated. The way it comes out of them both isn’t nearly as memorable as their struggles with it, though.
All of the Jess-Prince stuff is excellent, especially the moment Jess calls him stupid and, after moments of awkward silence, Prince says “I forgive you” and then makes her eat those pancakes. Then, there’s the butterfly. If that’s not CGI, I’m a little spooked. The ironic Nick flashback, establishing his Prince obsession, is a home run, too. As always, I’m glad to see Winston and Coach’s volume get turned up again. There are oodles of sexual tension between Schmidt and Cece and if this were the first or second season they would’ve already slept together; in fact, it doesn’t make sense that they haven’t.
Schmidt’s hilarious final line begs the question of what is next and it’s a good one. While “New Girl” took a funny stance on getting Nick and Jess to commit to the L Word, it wasn’t as fulfilling as it should’ve been. Realistically, saying “love” may not be as big of a deal to everyone, but the episode’s conclusion needed more, as big a deal as Nick and Jess made out of it. “Friends” settled down all of its comedy in exchange for an intimate final embrace for Chandler and Monica, in the aforementioned episode. “New Girl” chose a different path and decided not to take a page out of the season two playbook, which built up some sexual tension to lead to a steamy kiss at the end of the second True American episode. If this episode taught us anything, it’s that no path is necessarily better than another, unless you’re invited. They all end up in the same place anyway.