Tell me this: as soon as the stars of New Girl started cracking jokes in the kitchen for their first scene together of the fifth season, didn’t you feel some relief about Liz Meriwether’s show being back? New Girl‘s continuity, as a comedy five years old, is refreshing. It means the actors have chemistry. It means, every time I tune in, I trust I’m watching something good. So although “Big Mama P” is a chaotic season five opener — case in point, Jess, with a stunt double filling in for a pregnant Zooey Deschanel, tumbles down the stairs of the performing arts center and ends up spending the episode on a motorized scooter — it’s ultimately a solid episode to return on.
I noticed, and really enjoyed, how Meriwether chose to begin the episode, and therefore this season, by opening to a shot of Schmidt on one knee, preparing to ask Nick to be his best man. In its similarity, Meriwether triggers our happy memory of how season four ended. Last spring, Schmidt was on a knee, proposing to Cece.
Since New Girl has been away, the happy couple has celebrated, assembled the wedding party, now including the Best Man and Maid of Honor (Jess). What Cece has omitted from the process: telling her mom she’s engaged. But give her a break. She has her reasons. Let’s not forget why she broke up with Schmidt in the first place, and then how close she came to marrying a man her mother would approve.
It’s all about her mom, and Jess knows that (see: adorable childhood memory), but Jess doesn’t know Cece never told her. Neither does Schmidt. So when Priyanka (Anna George) gets invited to the engagement party, Schmidt’s basically walking into a steam roller. She doesn’t give in, although Schmidt vows to keep trying. Regardless, I thought the episode’s ending was organic and important.
In the end, Priyanka tells Cece she’ll never approve of their marriage. But that shouldn’t matter for this group of people, and it doesn’t. Jess, followed by Nick and Winston, stand up to say they approve because they’re the ones who do matter. They’re the ones who’ve seen this relationship go up and down. They’re the ones Schmidt and Cece have decided to spend their lives with — not Cece’s mom.