Tuesday, December 9, 2014

REVIEW: 'New Girl' - Jess and the Gang Get Stuck at the Airport During Their Holiday Travels in 'LAXmas'

FOX's New Girl - Episode 4.11 "LAXmas"

As the gang prepares to depart for the holidays, they quickly find they may be home alone when they are all trapped at the airport.

One of the most consistent bits on this season of New Girl has been streamlining the amount of plots in each episode. The comedy has struggled in the past with trying to do way too much in too little of time. This season has done better with that by largely keeping things to one or two plots per episode. In "LAXmas," nearly everyone has their own individual story. The only thing connecting them together is the chaos that is airports during the holiday season. That is amusing. This episode gets so much of that atmosphere right - the crowds all trying to get to the same place, the staff who don't care about your problems, people using the charging stations for trivial things, etc. And yet, all of that hard work almost gets unraveled at the end because Jess is able to race to her gate and make it onto her flight to London with hardly any trouble or obstacles at all. That just doesn't seem possible - especially in an episode that really wants to dig deep into this atmosphere.

"LAXmas" is largely about the gang fully committing to their travel plans this holiday season. Jess has been invited by her new boyfriend Ryan to visit his family in London. That's a big deal especially once she realizes his family is rich. Nick and Winston are both going back to Chicago but have to deal with Jess and getting off the stand-by list. Schmidt and Cece aren't looking forward to traveling to New York but end up having a great time together. And lastly, Coach is leaving his family behind to have his own vacation in Hawaii except he can't fully commit to it. It's a lot of plot. The stuff with Nick and Winston doesn't require a lot of time. They get a humorous sequence where they try to get people off of their flight and that's enough to make it work as a whole. Schmidt and Cece hang out in the high-end lounge only for Schmidt to cause a scene after another traveler asks to take a pass at Cece. The resolution is a bit iffy as they both say it's really great to have the other as a friend. The show is clearly trying to reenforce this pairing but they still wanna keep them in this weird holding pattern. Schmidt needs to show that he can be a good person whom Cece deserves. He hasn't quite reached that stage but him standing up for her was a great moment. And then, the Coach stuff simply didn't have a lot of weight to it. He was suppose to be torn between these two options but it was clear from the very beginning he would end up with his family back in Detroit.

The large focus of the episode though is on Jess and her plans for the holidays. Ryan makes this big invitation for her. He obviously is really into her and wants her to meet his family - even though they are still in the early days of their relationship and are stilling hiding from Principal Foster. Jess is onboard with the trip until she sees the family she is walking into. The reveal that Ryan comes from money is a little too similar to the reveal in the last episode that Nick's new girlfriend is rich. That has to mean something ominous for the future, right? That reveal sends her spiraling and the only person capable of comforting her is the staff member who was mean to her earlier. They actually hit it off quite well - to the point that it lessens the satire of this environment on display. She is going back and forth on whether to get on the plane. That forces the rest of the gang to make a grand gesture out of friendship. That is a rather sweet moment. That they would rather make sure that Jess has her happiness over the holidays than making sure that they get theirs. It works. She gets to the gate and arrives in London. But all the confusion and uncertainty stateside has forced Ryan to return to Los Angeles to be with her. It's a comedic and fun reversal to end the episode. I would love to see Jess' reaction to the rest of Ryan's family without him there. And yet, I'm certain the next episode will pick up with the gang back in the loft again.

Some more thoughts:
  • "LAXmas" was written by Matt Fusfeld & Alex Cuthbertson and directed by Trent O'Donnell.
  • That was a bad santa. And yet, if you're trying to chat with Santa at the bar of an airport, what else should you really be expecting?
  • If it was Schmidt's dream to get into the high-end lounge, how in the world did he not know about the guest passes?
  • That was a really dark play Jess and Ryan's students were staging. They wanted to kill Santa after he had eaten a gingerbread man cookie. Even Principal Foster had to drink to get through the final school day of the year.