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‘New Girl’ Season 3 Episode 18 Recap: “Sister III”

“Sister III” marks the end of the very amusing three-episode Day sisters arc and it’s also the story’s best episode. It’s no coincidence that it features Abby the least, though her influence is in the background of nearly every storyline. While I’m a little sad to see Abby (and Linda Cardellini) go, it’s clear that her character has served her purpose. She threw herself into the roommates’ lives headfirst, was an immediate and deep disruption to the status quo, and then left just as quickly with a bit of disaster in her wake.

The episode begins with everyone gathering around for a brunch celebration of Abby and Schmidt’s one-week anniversary of being live-in lovers. Schmidt’s head-over-heels already, at least enough to wear the painful (and painfully ugly) necklace that Abby makes him. Sibling rivalry and general competition has Jess trying to out-cute this newest couple but Nick is far more interested in his breakfast. This ultimately leads to Nick and Jess coming to the conclusion that they should start living together — “living together” in air quotes, as they are already roommates but will now share the same room — because Nick can’t think of any reason not to move in with Jess … except a beautifully executed jump cut shows Nick already up to number 13 in his list of reasons why not.

One of the things that I really love about New Girl is how it manages to be universally relatable when it comes to the big stories about friendships and relationships but also finds these tiny little character details that really ring true, like how “Sister” accurately portrays harmless sibling fighting. “Sister III” has fun with Nick and Jess officially living together and then quickly realizing that this may not be the best idea for their current relationship. They have lived together as long as they’ve known each other but they’ve each had a separate room with a separate bed and, most importantly, a place to go just to be alone and get away from each other for a bit. Regardless of how much you love someone, you’re never going to want to spend every living moment with them.

Jess and Nick bunking together is a story about all of the weird quirks that you learn about a partner when you live together (really live together), like how it can be surprisingly weird to change your clothes in front of someone even if you’re regularly naked together (“When you’re naked, you’re powerful and it’s glorious. When you’re changing, you’re hunched over and cowering like an animal.”). Jess also has some trouble adjusting to this new living situation; she’s disgusted by how dirty Nick’s feet are and thoroughly confused by the long shirt he wears to sleep (“So my bottom could breathe,” he explains. “Why does your bottom need to breathe?” she questions but immediately regrets asking when he starts to compare himself to plants).

Jess tries to get some alone time by pretending to work in the elevator but later, with the unintentional help of Abby, realizes that she could just check into a hotel. The montage of Jess being alone in the room (“I’M ALLOOOOOONNNNE!” she wails, multiple times, each time funnier than the last) is proof of Zooey Deschanel’s comedic chops (as if we still needed proof by season 3). It’s also a great contrast from the Jess we met in the pilot and I always love these reminders that she has grown into such a great, fun, and confident character. She is embracing being alone and it’s so satisfying to watch.

Back at the loft, Nick is enjoying his alone time in a very Nick way: admiring his Garbage Pail Kids. Jess makes him put them in a box and “how are you going to put art like this in a box?” New Girl is spectacular with hilarious one-liners that speak volumes about a character — and has a cast great enough to sell it.

Meanwhile Coach and Cece have paired up and despite with Schmidt says, they make such a delightful duo! I like that New Girl has been experimenting with pairing Coach up with different characters because Damon Wayans Jr. has fun chemistry with just about everyone (he even saved an otherwise dull storyline where Jess tried to force them to become better friends earlier in the season). Cece is concerned that Abby is using Schmidt so she enlists Coach’s help to prove it. (I can’t get enough Damon Wayans Jr’s delivery on lines like “Your words are changing his opinions about things!”) Coach and Cece are just plain wonderful to watch — “How long have we been friends?” “.. A week or so?” — and he helps Cece come to terms with why she’s so obsessed with Schmidt.

Winston gets the short stick once again this week with a barely-there runner featuring him trying to get buff for the police exam though he shines in every scene (his crab walk!!). He does serve as the catalyst that brings Nick and Jess back together. After spotting Jess at the hotel, he’s unable to keep the secret. Nick confronting Jess (and learning she’s an impeccable liar) led to my biggest laugh of the night. “Dammit Winston!” Jess yells, causing an off-screen Winston to retort “Nick loves being alone, too!” This prompts a second “Dammit, Winston!” from Nick and, without a missing a beat, Winston replies “That’s for my ding-a-ling.” I know I talk so much about the show’s lack of appreciation for Winston but if Lamorne Morris can have the funniest moment while entirely off-screen, think of the things he could do with a proper storyline!

By the end of “Sister III,” Jess and Nick have come to terms with the fact that they’re not ready to “live together” live together and that their relationship would benefit from having separate rooms. And cue Abby’s destruction: Abby moved back home but not after Schmidt spent all of his money renting her a storefront (a three-year lease in an undesirable neighborhood), causing him to sublet his apartment and move back in to the loft. It’s something that I didn’t see coming — I would have expected Schmidt to at least finish out the season in his separate apartment — and I’m not sure forcing Nick/Jess together is going to do much more for their story, but I’m willing to see where it goes.

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