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New Girl - Episode 3.11 "Clavado en un Bar" - Review

Wow. What a difference a hiatus makes. While not quite up to season 2 levels, this episode was a vast improvement over the majority of the offerings we were given during the first part of this season. Whether it was the flashbacks (Fat Schmidt and Stoner Nick always make me happy), the fact that it was just the main cast hanging out in the bar, or something else, this episode increased my hope that New Girl’s ship will be righted before the end of the season.

The focus of “Clavado en un Bar” was Jess being faced with a career-path altering decision: remain a teacher or take a fundraising position at the museum she volunteers at. Under normal circumstances, Jess wouldn’t hesitate at remaining a teacher, but ridiculous issues at her school had her questioning her career path.

In order to help her decide, the gang offered up their own experiences, albeit with differing levels of actual helpfulness. Winston was first up, while I loved the nod to his incredibly long and drawn out stories, the gang was right that he didn’t exactly make the decision to quit playing basketball – an injury made the decision for him. This, of course, led to him freaking out because he realized that he only played basketball because someone put a basketball in his crib and only became a sportscaster because he played basketball.

Schmidt’s tale flashed us back to college when he volunteered as a candy striper at the hospital. He had the hots for one of the nurses and asked her boyfriend what he did to get her: he was in marketing. Well, since overweight people apparently can’t be in marketing (gotta love Schmidt logic), he did the next best thing he could: sold Christmas trees. His eventual mentor told him that the money was the important thing and that set Schmidt on the path to his current career.

Coach just had a calling. As he pointed out, he is named after his profession. Sometimes you just get lucky enough to know exactly what you’re supposed to do, and Coach is one of those people.

Nick’s story was probably my favorite. We flashback to his first year in law school (in dreads no less!) where he quickly realized that he hated being around his peers. In his second year, he had really cleaned up (I like him in scarves too Schmidt), hunkered down in the library, and realized he didn’t like being around himself. In his third year, he studied at the bar, liked his surroundings, signed up to take the bar, and helped out behind the bar one night when the bartender got too drunk. The rest was history.

Jess recounted what she considered her first student: Cliff. He was new and had been picked on. She took him under her wing, tutored him and math, and he seemingly flourished. A quick check up on the boy revealed he was wanted by the FBI for embezzlement (but, as Coach pointed out, at least the math stuck!). Jess, thinking she hadn’t actually reached any of her students, had seemingly made her decision until CeCe swooped in to save the day. CeCe always considered herself to be Jess’s first student, all the way back when they were kids. The happy memory made Jess decide to stay a teacher and she quickly figured out how to make the combined classrooms work.

The next day we find that Jess’s success at working around the classroom issue has spurred her to consider pursuing becoming a principal, CeCe is picking up some shifts behind the bar, and Winston quit his job to pursue a career that is his choice. Nick finally gets to finish his story, showing Jess that he actually did take and passed the bar exam, and his choice to be a bartender was out of a pure desire to do it, not because he couldn’t hack getting through law school.

One thing I’ve always loved about New Girl is that, even though it does exist in the sometimes magical world of television, it has always seemed to base itself in more realistic situations than some of its peers. The writers know that their characters are in their late 20s and early 30s and put them in appropriate situations, such as Jess’s in this episode. Questioning your career path and if it’s what you’re meant to do is completely normal for someone at that point in their life (I do it from time to time and I’m only 25). And sometimes, love for what you do isn’t always enough. Money has to factor into the equation sometimes. So I applaud New Girl for broaching this subject.

On another important note, I didn’t hate Coach tonight! Progress! I actually like that he times things and his “Lady, she’s still got one minute” was pretty awesome. So I may be slightly warming up to him, but I’m still cautious until we get another few episodes in.

And can we talk for a second about what appears to be the beginnings of actual growth and development for Winston and CeCe?!?!?! Both struggled with issues with their careers (CeCe is an “aging” model and Winston never actually chose his career path), and both did something about it at the end of the episode. We will probably get some crazy Winston antics the next couple weeks as he tries to make a decision and figure his life out. But I like that we’re giving CeCe some more to do as well and hopefully we see more screentime for her at the very least.

Side Notes:
--- We aren't even going to talk about Winston's hair. But of course he would do that.

--- I love Kevin-97. We need to see him more often. I mean, he helped me decide last night that I do want to change career paths and become a driveway.

--- I guess as a karaoke machine owner (even though it’s in storage), I’m anti-future. Sorry guys.

--- That was an absolutely PERFECT use of Gangsta’s Paradise.

--- There were so many awesome lines throughout the episode. The ones below were my favorites.
“That is 45 worth of scotch right there.” “It tastes disgusting. I don’t like it.” - Scotch is completely disgusting so I definitely gotta side with Jess on this one.
“When I think of teachers, I think of two things: Jessica Day and pornography where the characters are teachers.” – Oh, Schmidt.
“Well you have found my flabbergast button and, guess what, you’ve pressed it.” – I might have rewound that one…
“I burnt a lot of bridges today. Stuff got weird. Stuff got racial. I used a lot of swear words, then I got sexual” – God I love you Winston. To have been a fly on that wall.

With that, I now turn it over to you guys. Did you think this episode was an improvement or another dud? Are you glad that Jess decided to remain a teacher? Does Fat Schmidt make everything better? Hit the comments and let me know!

About the Author - Caitlin Rice Anderson
Caitlin is an avid TV watcher. Her all time favorite shows are Buffy, Angel, and Veronica Mars. Her current TV obsessions are New Girl, Once Upon a Time, Hannibal, and Sleepy Hollow. Outside of watching and discussing TV, she can be found pursuing her doctorate and impatiently waiting for the return of college football.

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