New Girl 3×11 ‘Clavado En Un Bar’: The gang reminisces

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After what seemed like an eternity of a holiday hiatus, New Girl returned this week with its first new episode since Thanksgiving. In ‘Clavado En Un Bar,’ the gang spent the entire episode at Nick’s bar reliving what brought them to where they are now. Jess comes to the guys wanting advice on a potential job opportunity, which leads each of them down memory lane… with varying results. In a show that frequents in flashbacks (although usually short ones), it was still quite refreshing to see an episode almost entirely composed of them.

Jess, ever the teacher, has received a job offer in fund raising. It’s a great opportunity, but she doesn’t know if she can really give up her life as a teacher. Even though no one was ever really worried about Jess giving up her job, the gang still tries their best to give her insight on how they made their career choices.

Source: 'fox.com'

Source: ‘fox.com’

Schmidt gives us another Fat Schmidt flashback to when he was in college and could never get the girl. Naturally, his entire life’s goals were set when he found out that the attractive guy with the hot girlfriend worked in marketing. That’s about as insightful or deep as Schmidt’s flashback got, but we at least got to hear the entertaining description of his Scotch (‘A note of cedar, vanilla, tobacky. Hunting, fishing, shooting… Fatherhood, bonding, sadness… Please don’t leave me!’). Winston discovers over the course of his flashback that none of his decisions in life were actually made by him. He was given a basketball in his crib as a baby, which led him to play basketball, and his injury in the hills of Latvia is what led him to stop. While amusing, he too offers not much help to Jess. Coach reminds everyone that he is the only one in the group whose profession is also their name. A valid argument. He recounts getting up to help coach one of Winston’s games and getting called Coach by Nick and Schmidt and the nickname sticking. That’s pretty much exactly how I assumed that he got the nickname, so I didn’t necessarily need that flashback to put that together.

Source: 'fox.com'

Source: ‘fox.com’

Nick then lets everyone know how he dropped out of becoming a lawyer to be a bartender. It is a grand tale, and Nick even tells Jess secretly at the end of the episode that he actually passed the bar, only to prove to himself that he bar-tends because he loves it, but I felt like this contradicted a lot of Nick’s back story we already know. Maybe I’m making things up, but isn’t the cornerstone of pretty much everything we’ve been told about Nick based on him not being able to finish law school and dropping out? Oh well. It’s still interesting to get a new tidbit of Nick’s character development. He’s starting to seem like a downright normal human being these days.

Source: 'fox.com'

Source: ‘fox.com’

Finally, Jess revisits why she loved being a teacher in the first place. On her first day, she did her very first teacher-ly thing and was able to help a bullied student regain his confidence. It almost seemed like a touching moment, until Nick Googles the student and they find out that he is now a criminal. So maybe Jess didn’t help as much as she thought. Thankfully, Cece comes in to save the day and reminds Jess that she was actually Jess’s first student. We see when Jess and Cece first met, and Jess helps her to not be self conscious when she has to lean in to read her books. So of course, after Jess realizes that she has in fact made a difference in people’s lives, she decides to turn the job down and remain a teacher, even if it means teaching Civics and Math at the same time.

As a standalone episode, ‘Clavado En Un Bar’ was a perfectly enjoyable one. It did, however, seem to be a little out of place in the schedule seeing as how it was the first episode after an almost 2 month hiatus. For anyone who was a little fuzzy on events that had happened previously, this episode did no favors to help them remember.  The only other issue I came across was one that I have harped on for most of this season: how can a show in its third season still not know what to do with parts of its main cast? As a big Damon Wayans Jr. fan thanks to Happy Endings (rest in peace), I was ecstatic about his addition to the cast of New Girl. However, his presence has only seemed to make the ambiguity of Winston even worse. Now it’s almost as if the writers don’t know what to do with either character. Both of their presences seem to be forced a lot of times, and in most episodes they’ve seemed to fill the same role of just harmlessly filling the silences with occasional observations. Winston has actually seem some series highlights for his character this season, but the addition of Coach has done nothing to help his situation. Hopefully they will figure it out soon.

So what did you think of New Girl‘s return? Were you digging the flashbacks? Let me know your thoughts!

Brock Kimbrel

is a social media specialist from Atlanta, Georgia, who likes to pretend that TV characters are his friends. If you’re looking to have an hour-long discussion about the Smoke Monster from Lost, or witness a live-blog of the lastest SNL, he’s your guy. Follow him on Tumblr or Twitter to send questions and comments!

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