Continuing on New Girl‘s Season 4 trend, “Thanksgiving IV” heavily puts the emphasis on sex. So much so, in fact, that the roommates aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving but celebrating “Bangsgiving,” a holiday created by Schmidt — who else? — in which the roommates pick a name out of the hat and then bring a potential sex partner for that person. It’s obviously going to be a good episode.
It should go without saying by this point but New Girl prides itself on exploring messy relationships, really digging deep and getting to the gritty reasons why people get together or why they break apart. It tries to understand the very basics of attraction, the surface reasons why we find ourselves so drawn to someone or the surface reasons why we may write someone off before knowing them. Then, and this is when New Girl really gets good, it dives in to the deeper reasons besides both of these sides: how the qualities we once desperately wanted are now total turnoffs; how the reasons we were repulsed are now why we’re head-over-heels.
The potential hook-ups that the roommates bring for each other are a strange bunch but they all work for them, and for the show’s dynamic. Jess brings a very attractive coworker for Winston, a woman he is instantly attracted to but then this attractions falters a bit when he learns that she’s not a teacher, but a lunch lady. He has this idea in his head about what lunch ladies are like — we all have this idea — and it clouds his perception of her. Everyone encourages him to sleep with her anyway because, what the hell is stopping him? So there’s a happy ending there.
Next there is Schmidt and Cece who, of course, pick each others name out of the hat. They actually have a sweet plot (I love both characters but their time together is rarely sweet but instead more one-sided on Schmidt’s creepiness) with a cute ending. Cece brings Lucy for Schmidt but Lucy’s existence, because she once dated Nick, is more for Nick’s storyline than for Cece/Schmidt’s. Geoff, who we think is made up for the majority of the episode, doesn’t show either until way later but Cece shoos him away because she’d rather spend time with Schmidt. I am never fully on board with their relationship but I do like where it’s going this time.
There’s a pretty funny bit with Coach and his date, a coworker of Winston’s from the police academy who is much, much stronger than Coach — and everyone else. Coach has a similar arc to Winston: He is immediately attracted until he sees her bulging muscles (and the way she easily lifts a keg (by the way, a keg for just the few of them? I love how much they drink) and her quick acts of self-defense) but eventually he gets over it (after she lets him win in arm wrestling) and the two end up in bed together — doing push-ups.
But, as always, the meat of the episode is Nick and Jess. Nick picks his own name out of a hat so he brings Tran to hang out and drink with them. Coach picked Jess’ name and invites her crush Ryan because everyone is in agreement that the two need to just sleep together. Both Nick and Jess need some truth bombs and help from their friends to push them forward in their respective lives. Nick isn’t necessarily stuck on Jess but he’s stuck in the general cloud of a post-breakup, unable to commit to anyone and instead sleeping with women that don’t make him happy. Jess needs help diving into something with Ryan — she first tries to just “bang one out” but he’s more into a relationship which, clearly, she is too.
It isn’t their friends who help Nick and Jess move forward but each other. The fact that they are no longer dating is largely irrelevant here; the point is that they still know each other better than anyone else and they know how to talk to each other better than anyone else. With the help of some pop culture references — some advice borrowed from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — the two have a sweet talk on the roof and both get happy endings: Jess watching a movie in bed with Ryan, and Nick exchanging phone numbers with Tran’s granddaughter. Both of these characters needed to move on and New Girl has been slowly nudging them for the past nine episodes but “Thanksgiving IV” really speeds up the process, setting us up for some exciting episodes.