After 15 episodes of New Girl, we've started to know the characters pretty well. Sure it's only season one and there's still a lot we don't know, but we know the important things: Jess is quirky, loves polka dots and singing. Schmidt is a former chubby kid who lost the weight and is constantly vying for "top dog" status. Winston is re-establishing who he is both personally and professionally, post-basketball. Cece is a ball-busting model who is an attraction to douchey guys. But what about Nick Miller? He seems to be a mystery in the puzzle of New Girl and after last night's emotional, Nick-centred episode "Injured," I am wondering even more where his character is headed.
At first Nick seemed to be a guy in his early 30s who has a "grumpy old man" way about him. He works as bartender, which is ironic to me given his distaste for interaction with others. His ex-girlfriend Caroline broke his heart and he is still getting over it. Perhaps this is why his short-lived relationship with Julia (Lizzy Caplan) went awry so quickly, insecurity? I'm still trying to wrap my head around why he drunkenly called her so many times after she sent him the cactus. Why can't a cactus just be a cactus? Insecurity seems to be the only option there.
We've also discovered he doesn't have much money; he's taken to solving problems around the house with a series of intricate bells and whistles in order to avoid calling servicemen, like plumbers. Remember the weird setup he had in the wall behind the toilet? The resulting argument between him and Schmidt? It seemed to go to a whole new level of extreme last night when we found out that Nick doesn't even own a wallet -- he carries his money in a plastic bag. After that, the fact that he didn't have health insurance wasn't too surprising, which is why when Jess's OBGYN friend Sadie found a growth on his neck in last night's episode, everyone including Nick was very worried about the upcoming ultrasound. At first Nick tries to make excuses as to why he can't go, but Jess exerts some authority and tells him he's going.
New Girl is a show I look to for constant laughs -- whether it's from Schmidt (it usually is) or anyone else, I constantly find myself laughing out loud. But "Injured" really caught me off guard. It was serious and emotional with a side of a few small laughs and yet, I was still captivated. While I would never have shown Nick the cell phone app with the skull and cross bones on it for a possible diagnosis, I appreciated how seriously they all took Nick's upcoming ultrasound and rallied around him.
First at the bar, after closing with sad piano songs and rapping, then Schmidt's multiple attempts to kiss his best friend, the group really came together in support of Nick despite his attitude. After many pain pills, Nick took some of his anger out on Jess and told her she's not "real." She called him on the fact that he never does anything -- which is something viewers know to be true at this point: he never finished law school, he doesn't even like to get his hair cut! This rousing by Jess takes the group to the beach where Nick finally does something by stripping and running into the cold water. But what intrigued me most about this scene was the time spent on the sand afterwards.
Cece and Schmidt sat together and Cece reveals her Dad passed away when she was 12 and how hard it was. Perhaps contributing to her tough exterior? Just speculating. Schmidt attempted to relate by saying how he lost his cat as a child, which in turn made Cece chuckle and shake her head, which is part of what I like about the Cece/Schmidt dynamic; they seem to bring down each others barriers, or at least they're starting to.
Meanwhile, Nick and Jess sat together, Nick tells Jess how much he likes her and is glad she came into his life. While this exchange didn't strike me as romantic, it did seem to strengthen the bond between the two of them. I am one of those fans who is on board with a potential relationship between Nick and Jess in the future, but I also believe we're a long time away from that. I thought it was sweet that she slept next to him on the beach while he watched the sun come up. It gives me hope that one day these two will be in the right places to pursue something more. Jess proves her friendship to Nick even further when he asks the next day what happened the night before and she says "nothing," dismissing the negative things he said to her about not being real and not being able to speak at his possible funeral.
All of this becomes moot, of course, when the next morning, the ultrasound reveals that Nick doesn't have cancer. I have to hope that this episode is a turning point for the character of Nick Miller. Not only did they make him promise to finally purchase a wallet, but I hope we will see some growth in his character as a person as well. Maybe go back to law school or find a different career path? Maybe become less grumpy? Maybe realize his feelings for Jess? What would you like to see Nick do next?