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Raising the Bar: New Girl’s “Clavado En Un Bar” Review

By on January 8, 2014
Jake Johnson as Nick Miller. Co.  Cr:  Adam Taylor/FOX

Jake Johnson as Nick Miller. Co. Cr: Adam Taylor/FOX

By Nicole Bozzani

When we last met up with the New Girl gang it was Thanksgiving of 2013, and they were hunting and gathering in the woods for their holiday feast. But it’s a new year and that brings new opportunities.

Jess has been offered a job working as a fundraiser for the local children’s museum, but she is conflicted because she really loves her teaching job, despite recent cutbacks and an ineffectual school principal. She has little time to make such a huge decision regarding her future and turns to the boys for advice.

They each take turns recalling what lead them to the careers and jobs they currently hold. Winston recalls his foray into Latvian basketball, cruelly cut short by an uphill court and a broken ankle. Coach explores how he got the name Coach. Nick recalls his journey from law school to the now famous bar, and Schmidt travels the road from volunteer candy striper to brilliant marketeer. Max Greenfield’s Schmidt continues to delight week after week. His foray into the art of hospital candy striping, and Christmas tree salesmanship (soundtracked by Gangster’s Paradise) were priceless. While the entire cast as an ensemble continue to deliver the goods, Greenfield’s star is shining a little more brightly in recent episodes, and even more so now that Schmidt is less focused on how crappy life can be after he has screwed up his relationships.

Ultimately the time for Jess to decide her career fate arrives. Which will she choose; Teacher or a permanent and more highly paid job at the museum?

New Girl has been quite hit or miss this season. Fortunately this episode was enjoyable to watch. Flashback episodes are something the show really excels at, whether is just one scene or the majority of the episode. From Schmidt in his Lance Armstrong-inspired cycling outfit to whatever attractive law student look Nick had happening, the laughs rarely stopped.

The career-path stories really reflected the characters we have come to know, and each had a clear trajectory, from Winston’s being forced into basketball from a young age to Schmidt and his ability to sell ice to an Eskimo, and Nick’s beautifully surprising admission that “I wanted to prove to myself that I dropped out of law school because I wanted to be a bartender, not because I couldn’t be a lawyer.”

For Jess however, the decision becomes more fuzzy after recalling her first day of teaching and the bullied child she helped become a Math expert. As it turns out, that bullied child went on to embezzle millions, causing Jess to question if her input into the world of teaching ever impacted any of her students in any meaningful way.

The time comes for Jess to make a decision. Mirroring the running time for the episode, Jess has a little over 20 minutes to hear out each of the guy’s stories and come to a decision. In the final seconds before Jess’ boss calls for her answer we are reminded of Jess’ passion for teaching when Cece corrects her friend about the identity of her first student. As it turns out, it wasn’t the embezzler, but Cece herself.  (Cue another touching flashback to Cece’s childhood and how Jess helped her overcome her grief over her father’s death by helping her with her studies.)

With this realization in place, Jess summons the will to turn down the new and better paid job in favour of her old teaching position.

By far the greatest moment of the episode came from good ol’ Nick Miller in which he revealed a secret not even the biggest fan of New Girl could have predicted. Nick’s passing of the Bar exam, followed by his deliberate decision to become a barman was indeed surprising and mind boggling in the best way possible.

Kudos to the writers of New Girl on that one.

New Girl, you have found my flabbergasted button and you have pressed it.