New Girl Review: “Double Date” (Season 3, Episode 3)

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But how do they come to be at the restaurant? What is this double date? Nothing more than a spur of the moment thing organized at the beginning of the episode, and probably only concocted to support the double meaning of the title – it might also be referencing Winston’s recent adulterous situation of his very own, whereby he himself was cheated on by his now-ex-girlfriend. To prove himself as more than a pathetic simpleton, he endeavours to come along on the rest of the group’s double date and gets them a table at one of the hottest restaurants in town – Picca. As Schmidt points out – “a same day booking, at Picca? Can’t be done.” This is Winston’s puzzle this week – to get a same day booking at Picca. Can he do it?

You could say that “Double Date” furthers the theory that Winston isn’t a character per se, he’s a stand-in for any comedic situation that needs to provide light relief from the main story strand. Normally that role would fall to Nick and his drinking or weekly girlfriend but, now that he is with Jess, the torch has been passed to Winston. Will he become the new Nick? Only time will tell. If they don’t give him a real personality beyond “socially weird and insular,” then he might just fade into the background. With Coach (Damon Wayans) returning in a few episodes time, however, Winston might finally have something juicy to sink his teeth into. For this week, though, his task is to occupy the community table of Pica restaurant for two hours until his friends arrive, and not much else. That’s his puzzle this week. He attacks the project from all angles, even pretending to be the author Toni Morrison at one point, with no luck.

Not much talk of Nick and Jess this week, because they don’t get a lot of action. In the beginning, they set off the chain of events that lead to the conclusion, but they mostly end up chasing the action around, not really driving anything. Nick can’t lie to Jess, and Jess gets righteously indignant with Schmidt at one point (leading to some gloriously PG-rated swearing), but mostly this episode will be remembered for giving Schmidt a serious moment, and handling the tone of the situation just right. Cece is humiliated and embarrassed, Schmidt is crestfallen, and ultimately left with egg (pie) on his face.

Like Nick, New Girl is maturing. Not in an awful, serious way, but demonstrating that it can do depth and humility when it wants to. It’s not all about releasing beavers into air vents. Only when appropriate.