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Saturday, May 18, 2013

NEW GIRL Elaine Has a Big Day

Article first published as NEW GIRL Elaine Has a Big Day on TheTVKing.

FOX's New Girl predictably ends their second season this week with the wedding of Cece (Hannah Simone) and Shivrang (Satya Bhabha) in "Elaine's Big Day." Going in, viewers will know that the marriage cannot actually happen, and that hijinks will ensure during the ceremony, even if the specifics are kept in the dark. What's enjoyable is the sincere and funny way the actors bring the scenes to life.

Schmidt (Max Greenfield) tries to tell himself that he can read Cece's unhappiness in her eyes, thus he is sabotaging her wedding "as a friend." It's preposterous, given Schmidt and Cece's history, for anyone not to believe Schmidt still loves her, and no one does. His insistence doesn't fool anyone, though the person he is really trying to fool is himself, which he likely also fails at.

The method of said sabotage gets a little crazy. Shivrang's horse panics and runs off. Cece's song to come down the aisle to is replaced with "Cotton Eyed Joe." A badger is taken up into the air vents and eventually gets loose. Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) fall onto the alter, crushing it mid-nuptials. This all seems outlandish, but actually works with the tone and personalities already established, except maybe the horse thing, as Shivrang could have been (but wasn't) seriously injured.

It's especially funny how into the pranks Winston (Lamorne Morris) gets, since he doesn't really seem to have an emotional stake in the proceedings, and is pulling the gags just for the sake of being wild. At least it gives Winston something to do, as he is so often the wasted character on New Girl.

Both Cece and Shivrang are glad to call their relationship off. They both try to make it work, but their hearts also each belong to someone else, Shivrang's love being the "Elaine" mentioned in the episode title, amusingly played by country singer Taylor Swift. Yet, because they both try so hard to commit to their marriage prior to "Elaine's Big Day," it does feel a little false that they are so happily able to cancel it so quickly.

Cece's sudden freedom causes a dilemma for Schmidt. Yes, he loves her, but he has tried very hard to move on, and in doing so, has started dating his ex, Elizabeth (Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie). Schmidt isn't a bad guy and doesn't want to break Elizabeth's heart, but he also can't say no to Cece when she comes to him. So he does the only thing he can: rather than making a choice between the two women, he flees.

It's understandable that Schmidt doesn't want to hurt either one, and thus avoids doing so. But by running, he is essentially hurting them both. It will be very surprising if season three begins with him in a relationship with either, and he will have to slowly rebuild a bond with whatever girl he truly wants. (Non-spoiler: it's got to be Cece).

As much as all this is the meat of "Elaine's Big Day," the best thing to come out of the season finale is movement in the Jess / Nick pairing. Nick bends over backwards to try to be mature and responsible for Jess, replacing his suit when her dad, Bob (Rob Reiner, All in the Family), criticizes it, and staying away from the chaos Schmidt and Winston are causing. This proves how Jess makes him a better man, and that he can rise to the occasion.

Jess assumes the worst, though, blaming Nick when things go awry, even though he has nothing to do with it, because she thinks it's something totally in keeping his character. This doesn't bode well with Winston's advice to Nick to just be himself, as clearly Jess doesn't want Nick to maintain everything he is. She wants him to improve somewhat.

Despite this signs that their relationship will face a bumpy road, those issues are put off to be dealt with another day, and they affirm their feelings for one another. They do break up, briefly, in "Elaine's Big Day," and fans can be forgiven for getting upset, thinking the episode is ending on a depressing note. But then it recovers, as they both decide they don't want to lose one another. Finishing with a passionate kiss between the two is perfect!

Is it too soon for New Girl to put the romantic leads together? Most series used to avoid this, and kick it down the road as far as possible. But with shows like Chuck, Bones, Fringe, The Big Bang Theory, and others successfully maintaining their momentum, even without the "will they, won't they?" tension, it's possible that New Girl will take a chance and go for it. There will likely be at least one more major split between them, but there would be something satisfying about having that one element of the series worked out for good early in the run.

The only problem now with this great sitcom, which has really defined itself and found its momentum, is how can it still be calling Jess the "New Girl," since she's lived in the apartment for two years?

New Girl has been renewed, and will return next fall on FOX.

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