The answer is a resounding yes.
Yes, “Clean Break” is the finale this terrific season of New Girl deserved. And yes, it’s rewarded with the relationship it deserves, Schmidt and Cece.
Over the last couple months, the show undeniably felt like it was hovering in one place, and thus issued some stinkers of new episodes when it wasn’t taking weeks off at a time. And in my recap last week, I pressed those problems because it felt like the show wasn’t building up to the right finale.
I certainly warmed up to Damon Wayans Jr.’s character this season, but I didn’t want to see his farewell tour be the main subject of the season finale. Coach presents a fool-proof moving system, a clean break, this week, which is honestly pretty lame until he and Winston get emotional and the legend of the Regis Philbin skillet is born. Sure, when Coach waved goodbye to the roommates from his passenger seat, I realized a part of me was going to miss him (I still wonder what the New York teaching job market is like), but it was hard to care about May enough to watch a whole episode about them. Notice at the end of “Clean Break” how she’s hugged by no one, nor does she even say goodbye.
What Coach’s system does is drag out old feelings. He’s momentarily convinced that Cece is a non-essential item for Schmidt, but the hansom man can’t fight his feelings any longer. It’s hysterical watching him try to destroy the donation bin and subsequently argue with guest star Jack McBrayer.
“Clean Break” escalates quickly, as soon as Schmidt finds out that Cece’s in love with him, but it’s perfect because it interrupts Jess and Nick discussing their own relationship. If this isn’t a sign of what couple is right for the show and the one that isn’t, I don’t know what else is — maybe it’s also Winston slyly stealing the ass mug and making it a cat mug instead. We don’t yet want to know what happens when their feelings boil to the surface, two mutually beautiful people living across the hallway from each other. The fact that neither works up the courage to make a move without the symbolic mug, suggests they’re reluctant to rekindle anything.
Schmidt’s proposal is a giant emotional release for all of us. It’s the show saying, ‘We know this is the best relationship we’ve created, and we’re going to take it seriously now.’ It’s a terrifically written surprised in that Schmidt’s intent to chase her up the mountain would’ve meant waiting to see more until next year. Instead, Cece finally receives Jess and mostly-Winston’s strongly phrased voicemails and rushes down the mountain to find Schmidt at the loft. As well, it’s a cute proposal with New Girl using a memory to assist him. Finally, Jess posting a Save The Date on the fridge put icing on the cake of a great finale.
It seems appropriate now that Coach’s exit corresponds with Schmidt and Cece’s engagement, as the loft loses one roommate and gains another, I expect.
At its core, the finale also has many great quirks, from Winston’s cat selfies, to the Jess picture cube, to Nick’s hoarding semi-intervention and the slow motion shot of Nick with the table fan and Jess saying, “Damnnnnn.” These were the kind of things that made the first half of this season so great, and it was good to see them again.
My favorite thing: That Winston-to-Cece voicemail was 510 percent amazing.