New Girl might be many things, but serious it ain’t. Or is it? “Double Date” comes dangerously close to straight drama in its final minutes, or as close as we’re ever likely to get with Jess and the gang around. This showdown has been building over the previous two episodes, with the ongoing saga of Schmidt’s simultaneous relationships with Cece and Elizabeth. We’ve seen near misses – Winston discovered what was going on, but kept it to himself, and Cece and Elizabeth encountered each other at an office party, but Schmidt somehow styled it out (much to his own bemusement) – but that is over now. Done. This is where the shit hits the proverbial fan – the end of Schmidt’s “double date,” so to speak. There is an actual tangible double date organized, but it is soon forgotten.
It all starts with Nick. New Nick, honest Nick, Schmidt’s best friend Nick. Always has been, always will be, and the relationship has coexisted nicely with his deepening romantic relationship with Jess. On the other hand, Cece being Jess’s best friend means that she has a personal interest in keeping Cece happy, while Nick has an interest in protecting Schmidt. Basically, Nick is the one person whom Schmidt could absolutely not trust to keep his big secret, but Schmidt goes ahead and confesses everything anyway.
While it is endearing that Nick just could not lie to Jess, suggesting that he regards this relationship as being much more serious than those with previous girlfriends, Schmidt must have foreseen that this would be the case. Did he just want to get found out? Had he just had enough? Interestingly, Winston (who found out about the love triangle in the first episode) reveals nothing, and didn’t tell anybody anything.
It’s very unlike Schmidt to not implicate the person protecting him at that moment. At one point he tells Cece that Nick is cheating on Jess in order to dissuade her from going to the restaurant where the actual double date would take place. And he did tell Cece earlier on in the season that Winston wanted to steal her underwear while he was covering for him – but that could point towards the new maturity he’s displaying of late. To his credit, he accepts his fate and confesses to Cece, and it is painful to watch; with Max Greenfield pulling out a heartrending (yet still douchey – a surprising achievement) performance in the restaurant.
It might seem surprising that the writers decided to kill the Schmidt love triangle story so early on in the season, just as it was gathering pace. At his triumph at the staff party last episode, who could have predicted that they would decide to break his run only three episodes in? Would having an unrepentant adulterer running rampant around the loft, unpunished for his crimes, make Schmidt a deeply unlikeable character? Even moreso when combined with his douchiness? The problem is that doucheiness is an incredibly dangerous trait to give a character, and one wrong move and Schmidt could easily make you want to shove your fist into the television screen. By humbling him this early on, they could be setting him up for an emotional reunion with Cece or Elizabeth, after a couple of dalliances with some of the peripheral women of the show (either Beth from the office, or Nadia, Cece’s Russian roommate) of course. “Playas gon’ play!” as Schmidt would say.