Jess is back! And instead of forcing her and Reagan to circle each other like predators competing for insufficient prey, New Girl lets them hang out and be reasonable and enjoy each other’s company! Sure, on a ridiculous-to-believable scale, their friendship would register a “highly unlikely.” They have radically different personalities, and the one thing they have in common is a romantic history with Nick. But it’s so nice to see them avoid any jealous competitive vibe that I don’t even mind.
The other element of this episode that really won me over, much to my surprise, is the phrase “goosebumps walkaway,” which is exactly the kind of unexpected, unnecessary idea that nevertheless worms its way into your brain and ends up living there forever. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to watch one of those movie scenes — which largely take place in an airport, on a crowded street, or in front of the open door of a yellow cab — without thinking “goosebumps walkaway” now. And that’s a pretty significant accomplishment.
Let’s back up, though. We have two main stories this week: The primary story is the sad end of our Megan Fox arc, just as soon as I’d really gotten fond of her, with Nick and Reagan trying to negotiate her imminent departure. They both have feelings for each other, but neither wants to admit it and complicate her leaving. Nick deals with this in a typically Nick way, which is to say, by developing an elaborate plan that ultimately makes him come off as cartoonish and silly.
That plan comes into focus just as Nick and Reagan are about to consummate their relationship, only to discover that Jess came back and went full Goldilocks on the bed. Rather than pick up their hookup in Nick’s room, Reagan tells Nick that they should just accept that things were going to end anyhow, and just keep things casual.
Nick’s full name might as well be Nick “Doesn’t Accept Simple Situations at Their Face Value” Miller, and thus the “goosebumps walkaway” is born. Rather than saying good-bye like a normal person, Nick decides that he wants to give Reagan a departure she’ll remember. Right as she’s about to say good-bye, he wants to hit her with what Schmidt describes as “the line that haunts her, that consumes her, that rings in her ear for all eternity.” When Nick actually tries to come up with one, though, his first attempt is hilariously dumb: “I want to say good-bye to you, but it’s not true. So, bad-bye, Reagan. Bad-bye.” Look, Nick, there’s a reason that the goosebumps-walkaway line in Lost in Translation is one we never get to hear — they’re always better in your imagination than in real life.
While Nick and Schmidt discuss the ins and outs of a good goosebumps walkaway, Reagan deals with her crush on Nick by picking up with our second main story: Jess is back! And inevitably, she fell in love with a juror whose real identity she was not allowed to know (Juror 9C, played by Demetri Martin), and is now looking for him. Her strategy, which is to merely type things she knows about him into her computer, fails miserably, so Reagan agrees to help out. Clearly, Reagan is just trying to avoid Nick, but this gives us my favorite premise of this episode. Namely, that Reagan and Jess are an Odd Couple friendship.
It also delivers my runaway favorite moment of the episode, a classic New Girl–y joke that made me remember why I ever liked Jess in the first place: her thank-you song to Reagan, sung to the tune of the Golden Girls theme. “Thank you for being Rea-gan” is, frankly, a much better theme song than New Girl’s, and along with the glorious gospel version, it is proof that the Golden Girls theme should be held up as one of humankind’s greatest achievements.
Anyhow, Reagan is much better at tracking down people than Jess is, and quickly finds a juror by bullying a doctor into giving up his name — I guess HIPAA is not that big a deal! — and then tracking the guy to a men-only golf club. Reagan is trying to avoid Nick, so of course, they call Nick to help them pierce the veil of the men-only club. It also leads to a pretty successful defense of Nick as a Human Who Would Actually Be Attractive to Other Humans. Though he has a lot of failings, as Jess and Reagan discuss, Nick “kind of sneaks up on you.” And apparently he also kisses you “like a coal miner greeting his wife.” Huh. I kind of … buy that?
Asthmatic third juror gives up the name of Juror 9C, and Winston’s cop connections allow Jess to demand that he “run a name through the system — that’s a thing, right?” It is a thing! But unfortunately, Winston identifies a prohibitive number of Gary Garcias in the greater L.A. area, and it looks like the hunt is off.
While all of this is happening, Schmidt and Cece slowly ramp up the wedding prep by joining Winston at his dance class, which he is quick to define as a “dance gathering.” When they get there, Schmidt is utterly appalled at the lack of choreography or organization. His fear and disdain are understandable — growing up as a “husky boy,” Schmidt learned that he had no margin for error. A single mistake and he’d be ridiculed mercilessly. The whole bit is obviously just a setup for two things. First, repeated scenes of Young Husky Schmidt messing up, then practicing, and finally nailing the Hustle. All right, New Girl. It feels a little easy, but all right.
The other benefit of the Schmidt Hates Freestyle Dancing plot is that it gives us a surprisingly strong and admirable statement of strength from an unexpected source — Winston! Confronting Schmidt about his insecurities, Winston implores Schmidt to stop worrying about what other people say. The whole speech involved a slightly silly metaphor about writing comment cards for one’s own suggestion box, but I have to say, I dug it. You do you, Winston, whichever you that happens to exist this week.
As Reagan gets ready to leave, she tries to say good-bye to Nick in the loft bathroom, which leads to an inevitably disastrous attempt at Nick’s goosebumps line. After all of his failed drafts — “stop thinking this is good-bye, and start knowing it is” — Nick settles on “Sayonara, Sammy,” and then tries to follow through with a pre-planned exit to the left. Except he’s in the bathroom, so his exit options are the shower stall, the sinks, or the urinals. Needless to say, it is a goosebumps-free moment.
The resolutions to Jess’s search for Gary Garcia and Nick’s search for a good-bye to Reagan come in one fell swoop. Jess, an unsurprisingly excellent juror, is asked to appear on a local news show to discuss the case. As she sits in face-obscuring darkness, her voice modified so that she sounds “like Zuul,” the show’s other guest juror is a similarly Zuul-voiced Juror 9C.
Watching Jess and Gary derail their interview by trying to give each other their email addresses gives Reagan the push she needs to call Nick and say good-bye one more time. In the end, though, all she can think to say is “Sayonara, Sammy.” But now those words have some meaning, and it’s a fittingly empty-but-expressive farewell for their relationship. And in celebration of the gang’s reunion, we get a nice closing scene of Nick and Jess hanging out and joking about just how much Nick masturbates (great … ), and a more gratifying bit that features everyone dancing the not-Hustle together.
So that’s it for Megan Fox’s turn on New Girl. It’s been a surprisingly successful run of Jess-free episodes, and on the one hand, I’m sad to see them go. But with Schmidt and Cece’s wedding on the horizon, I’m sure there will be plenty of eventful things to come. Sayonara, Reagan!