By rearing back on the Nick/Jess drama that took over much of Season 3 of New Girl, Season 4 has mostly returned to form — it’s been weird as hell, sure, but it’s been goofy, funny, and emotional as well. It has also, definitely, been helped by this season’s commitment to focusing on all of the roommates instead of just our two main characters. This latter development is in play in “Goldmine” as Winston, Coach, Cece, and Schmidt all get fun little storylines but the former has taken a step back with a A-plot that’s a little too focused on Nick and Jess.
Both Jess and Nick have been dating other people — well, he has somehow snagged a string of one-night stands and she has been a bit unsuccessful in her attempts — and Jess is worried about her upcoming date with Ian. It’s their third date (which means “mama gets her biscuits!” or, in non-Jess speak, sex) but Jess doesn’t know how to tell Ian that she’s still living with her ex-boyfriend. This issue was bound to come up in New Girl at some point this season but I expected it to be dealt with a little better, I guess. It wasn’t bad but just not quite as inventive as I hoped. After Ian freaks out a bit, Jess lies and claims that Nick is gay so it’s not really a big a deal that they live together.
It’s not the most inspired plot ever and while New Girl has certainly done more with less, it’s just not working in “Goldmine.” Mostly we get some lame jokes about Nick talking about the men he likes to sleep with and cluelessly acting the way he believes gay men do (a sample exchange: “You know women.” “What’s women?”). Fortunately, because of the sold writing on New Girl that has helped to build Nick’s character for the last four seasons, the execution is much better than it sounds — but it’s definitely something that wouldn’t work on another show, or even with another character here. Jake Johnson sells everything well enough so the problem isn’t with the delivery but with the shrug-worthy jokes.
The other plots play a little better here, with each one sex-focused in its own way. First up is Winston and Coach who are still trying to win over their newish, attractive neighbors (hey, continuity! I forgot about them!) but each with different methods. Winston is going for the long game (taking his sweet time winning them over by helping them out around the loft and basically becoming their mail secretary) while Coach prefers immediate results and wants to take them out that night. Their plot is vaguely amusing but nothing too special because it doesn’t go anywhere surprising.
Second is Cece and Schmidt. Cece is contemplating getting a breast reduction (so that’s just thrown in there out of nowhere, huh?) and Schmidt, of course, is firmly against it. It’s another plot that just feels odd for New Girl, something that’s out of place. It’s handled funnily enough with Schmidt going through the stages of grief (and getting stuck on depression) and then saying a very long, very animated goodbye to Cece’s breasts while she wears headphones — it’s another plot that’s designed to slowly, very slowly, move forward their narrative together, as he does sweetly call Cece the most beautiful girl in the world (her small smile as she hears this and puts back in the earbuds is perfect). But overall, it didn’t totally work.
That’s the only real problem with “Goldmine.” Each of the plots had nice moments and funny jokes — plus some good payoffs: Nick and Schmidt being mistaken for a gay couple without much effort; a truly crazy woman Nick brought home blowing his cover (and refusing to leave); a conversion of the two subplots when Schmidt shows up at the neighbors while Coach and Winston are working on their plan (them bouncing was very, very funny) — but in the bigger sense, none of them really felt whole or effective. Still, I’m not worried at all about this season because it’s been very good so far and this is just a slight misstep.