Tuesday, February 11, 2014

REVIEW: 'New Girl' - Jess' Sister, Abby, Comes Back Into Her Life As Nick & Schmidt Go to a Bar Mitzvah in 'Sister'

FOX's New Girl - Episode 3.16 Sister

Jess' wild-child sister, Abby (Linda Cardellini), pays a visit and immediately throws the loft into disarray; Schmidt enlists Nick to be his wingman in crashing a bar mitzvah; and Winston and Bertie throw a dinner party, which turns awkward when only Cece and Coach attend.

Season three of New Girl has strongly been about the changing dynamics of the loft. At the start of the season, Nick and Jess decided to go all in with their relationship. They've been through the honeymoon stage and are just recently really dealing with the changing parts of a committed relationship. Schmidt has moved out of the loft and Coach has moved back in. And now, Jess' sister, Abby (played by Linda Cardellini of Freaks & Geeks, ER and Mad Men fame) has entered into this universe. It's always fun when a series decides to change up its environment - and probably more so than the Schmidt/Coach trade, Abby's addition truly will cause a big transformation in the core setting of the show.

Abby just works so well as a character immediately mostly because it's really delightful to see some show remembering that Cardellini can be really funny and is not just this serious and dramatic actress. Yes, Abby is clearly a troublemaker - causing mischief in the very first minute we meet her. But beneath that wild and chaotic exterior, she really is vulnerable and upset that she's in her thirties and has just failed at life. There's that really strong scene in the middle with Abby and Jess bonding that feels like actual sisters who enjoy being in each other's company. And it's from a need to try to help her that Jess gives her a place to stay in the loft - instead of going back to Portland to live with their mother.

Do I fully expect Abby to tone down on the wackiness and mischief anytime soon? Not really. But that's also really exciting. Cardellini brings a fun and different energy to the show that is just really enjoyable. As long as the comedy remembers the character's core and heart and not keep her as a one-note person, I'm really excited to see where this arc is heading - and what it means for Nick and Jess' relationship.

The two subplots were just kinda there. They didn't distract from the overall episode but I also didn't think they added a whole lot to it. A big problem is that the Nick and Schmidt story involves a plot trope that I just never enjoy - when a miscommunication means one character goes to the worst conclusion when a simple conversation with another character would solve it immediately. So, Nick jumping to the idea that Jess is ashamed of him didn't really work for me - even though there's always goodness to be had by Nick causing a scene somewhere.

Also, Winston was making a big deal about this dinner that Bertie was planning for the entire gang - which everyone except Coach and Cece bailed on. It mostly boiled down to a story about Coach and Cece as a romantic pairing in the aftermath of that one episode last fall where they went out on a date. I don't want the show to feel the need to match up its characters romantically to elicit interest. I'm fine with the show fleshing out the friendship dynamics between its core cast. A Coach-Cece friendship could be really interesting in the future - so I'm glad that by episode's end that option remains viably open.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Sister" was written by Matt Fusfeld & Alex Cuthbertson and directed by Max Winkler.
  • The morning is the most sensual time of the day according to Jamie Lee Curtis - who also enjoys little blue denim purses and calling getting drunk, getting stoned.
  • Winston: "So be there by six and no bailing." Schmidt running into the room: "Oh, bailing on dinner."
  • Nick to self in the mirror: "Oh tidings Abigail, I'm Jess' beau Nicholas."
  • Abby: "I know all of her credit card information and I can just change it."
  • Rabbi: "You take a phone call in the middle of a punchline? Your generation is the worst."
  • Jess: "Hey Outside Dave, have you seen a girl who looks like me but with chaos in her eyes?"
  • Winston: "You know, Bertie had a dream she killed me."
  • Nick to Schmidt: "You're doing it again. You're talking in speeches. You've been monologuing lately, Schmidt."
  • Need a gif of Nick's face after Abby says "Everything." at the very end.