New Girl Review: “Keaton” (Season 3, Episode 6)

"I've got to get into the mind of Keaton."

I think I went slightly overboard with last week’s New Girl. It’s not a bad thing to have an episode that treads water, in fact, it’s vital to the quality of the show. It’s necessary to have a few average episodes, to allow the really great ones to shine through. The US sitcom is a strange beast, with between twenty and thirty episodes per season, aiming for at least one hundred total for syndication – could you imagine trying to maintain greatness for one hundred episodes? Even Seinfeld had weak episodes. Even Seinfeld. The fact that this week’s episode is a real doozy makes me feel even worse.

I’m sorry, New Girl. I still love you.

Are we really six weeks in already? Hasn’t that time flown? Wow. A quarter of the way through and New Girl hits it straight out of the park again with “Keaton,” this year’s Halloween episode. Being a Halloween episode, “Keaton” has a lot to live up to because the last time New Girl dipped a toe in that particular holiday tradition (the episode “Halloween”), it was superb.

Jess was a zombie Woody Allen and got punched in the face by Nick, it was side-splittlingly hilarious. So “Keaton” has a lot to live up to and, while it might not necessarily be as funny as “Halloween,” it’s important insofar as it changed the dynamic between Nick and Schmidt, and we left the episode with Schmidt in a slightly different place than at the start. Only slightly, mind you. A few feet away, let’s say – more on that later.

Jess and Halloween go together like two things that suit each other very well. It’s a fun time of year, and there’s costumes, and spookiness, and children having fun. It’s probably the second Jessiest time of year, besides Christmas, so you know that at some point she will definitely be dressed in a ridiculous costume. On this front, “Keaton” didn’t disappoint, but unlike other occasions when she was called upon to don fancy dress, it felt like there was really good reason here. Although it was completely crazy, the characters and the story made her costume choice seem real.

Maybe I’m building it up too much, and really I’m not trying to – I worry about plot spoilers. It’s difficult when New Girl does a high-concept episode, as in having a single story that they follow from A to B with little deviation or side story, because they pack in so much information and story detail that to talk about anything is to spoil the central gag at the heart of the episode. So, here’s what we’re going to do – I’m going to place a page break here, and I’m going to talk about spoilery things on the next page. If you want to read, click ahead. You’ll be disappointed about how minor it is, but I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone. If you want to read on, or have seen the episode, then just click through. If you’d rather wait, then do that.

We good?