This season finale was... weird. I liked a lot of aspects of "Elaine's Big Day," but at times it was over-the-top ridiculous and then felt like it wrapped things up a little too easily. I even decided to sleep on it and give it a second watch, and the things that annoyed me still annoyed me, but as far as the state of the romantic entanglements on the show, I'm satisfied. But not happy about the fact that I've got "Cotton-Eyed Joe" stuck in my head and feel the irresistible urge to line dance.
Much like Winston's actual birthday, the "Winston's Birthday" episode was dominated by the aftermath of Jess and Nick sleeping together more so than any sort of birthday party. And while I quibble that Schmidt is too good of a friend not to have birthday alerts set up, and a pancake breakfast scheduled months in advance, I still enjoyed this episode. And it was educational as I learned exactly why you should not fall asleep immediately after getting a Henna tattoo done. If Cece can't rock the bearded lady look, there's no hope for the rest of us.
In "Virgins," we learned that everyone's first time having sex sucked... well, unless it involved a certain rock icon. It was a fun episode that gave me the giggles (and what a perfectly handled way to address Jess and Nick's first time), though I'm still having a really hard time buying that Stiles from Teen Wolf went to high school with Zooey Deschanel. Dylan O'Brien's got a little baby face (and according to the internet there's more than a decade between them in real life), so I was kind of glad they didn't end up having sex because it just would have seemed inappropriate. Aside from that, and the fact that we're living in terror of The Archduke, we'd say this episode was more successful than a night with Mysteria and Octopussy.
This episode was pretty entertaining (we always love some Fat Schmidt), but it seemed a little out of order again, like maybe that funeral episode aired when it wasn't supposed to because we jumped back to Nick playing the dead dad card when he didn't even mention his father in "First Date" at all. But we loved the orange jumpsuit, and Shivrang's Jane Lynch/Sue Sylvester reference, so we'll give it a "dead dad" pass.
While last week's episode took a wrong turn in Chicago, and my Tuesday night was totally thrown off with a rerun, "First Date" more than made up for all of that. It was a charming episode full of romance, bromance, awkwardness, sexual tension and lots of homeless people. Most importantly it marked the return of two of my favorite characters, Russell and Tran. What I'd pay to see a scene with them together, the quiet togetherness of Russell and the unspoken wisdom of Tran, it would be like watching a beautiful silent film. Anyway, here's what worked... and the one thing that sorta didn't but I'm willing to let slide.
"Chicago" was such an off episode of this show, partly because it dealt with the death of a character we only met once, but mostly because it wasn't funny. Sitcoms can certainly deal with dead people -- look at the legendary "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a prime example -- but this just seemed like it was desperately trying hard to be funny and failed almost entirely (some of the Schmidt mortality stuff was amusing). It's a shame because it had the makings of good stuff, what with Margo Martindale and Nick Kroll cast as Nick's mom and brother. But the thing that gave the whole thing an air of weirdness was the unacknowledged elephant in the room of Nick and Jess (he introduces her to his mom as "my new roommate"). Sure, Nick's brother and his insinuating eyebrows made some comments about them sleeping together, but aside from that, it was hard to tell if this episode even took place after the fish-tank-breaking-make-out session, or if this episode was meant to air earlier. It felt like this death of a con man episode existed in this own little bubble, or alternate reality. Maybe the gang should stay out of Chicago for a while.
We could sit and recite all of the clever dialogue of "Quick Hardening Caulk", but it would probably just be a copy of the script... and besides, the fans on Tumblr have probably gif'd the entire episode by now. Instead, we'll just break down the highlights:
We've been so focused on the Nick/Jess relationship lately that we've forgotten the equally important relationship between Schmidt and Nick. Thankfully, Schmidt rectified that in "Tinfinity" with his celebration of their tenth anniversary of living together and threw one hell of a party. We only wish we'd had a chance to see more of the Paper and Wood parties as well. Our major quibbles with the episode involved the way they made Jax such an annoying weepy mess and the lack of Winston in general (yes, we sound like a broken record... for those people who even remember what records are). They could have done the Jax thing in a less over-the-top way and it would have been fine. And we'd say mazel tov to Cece and Shivrang, but we know that would break Schmidt to pieces.
If I were grading this episode by numbers, I'd have to take off major points for every time someone used the word "nailed" (or any form thereof) to talk about sex acts. Nailing someone's mouth in particular rubbed me the wrong way. It got to the point by the end of "Parking Spot" that I was physically cringing whenever it happened. And I didn't love that Winston was again separated with his own subplot that started out entertaining and then waned, but I do appreciate the way they are dealing with the Nick/Jess stuff, and some of the random callbacks to previous episodes (Coach!), so if there is a TV curve, this would probably get bumped up to a solid "A" after seeing Kat Dennings play with marionettes and Andy Dick on 2 Broke Girls.
There was no way "Table 34" was going to live up to the double whammy of last week's kiss and a new game of True American, but it didn't entirely disappoint, either. And since Schmidt at an Indian marriage convention was far less racist (though still pretty racist) than we would have feared, we're considering the whole thing a win.
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