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FOX’s “New Girl” Season Finale Arrives; 4 Things to Expect (Review)

The fourth season of FOX’s “New Girl” was a tale of pros versus cons.

Loose in plot, it appealingly relied on the cast members’ organic chemistry. Always funny and always true to its voice, “New Girl” never felt more comfortable.

By the same token, that sense of stability often manifested as stagnation. The fourth season of “New Girl” might have been immensely in touch with its unique voice, but it was decidedly less clear on what it wanted to say with that voice. Plotlines, including those which involved new romantic escapades for the core characters, never came across as anything more than television necessities. They served to stall–not evolve–the series.

The double-edged sword also applied at the character level. On the one hand, the steadiness gave some of the cast members room to breathe. Lamorne Morris particularly seized the opportunity. While the sharp writing certainly helped, it was Morris’ impeccable timing and unbreakable connection to the role that allowed Winston Bishop to emerge as one of television’s funniest characters.

On the other hand, Max Greenfield’s Schmidt fell victim to the season’s layout. Content to keep a possible reconnection with Hannah Simone’s Cece on the backburner, “New Girl” thrust Schmidt into a psychologically demeaning relationship with Zoe Lister Jones’ Fawn. An unfortunate decision, the effort to showcase the new couple’s incompatibility did significant damage to the character once viewed as the show’s primary attraction. Schmidt did not simply lose pride and dignity — he also lost his hilarity.

On a macroscopic level, the fourth season of “New Girl” was arguably its most consistent from a quality standpoint. There were essentially no bad episodes — and certainly no strings of subpar installments.

Consistency is not exclusively an endorsement in this case. While the 2014-15 “New Girl” season delivered few weak installments, it also lacked any classics. The fourth season of “New Girl” was usually good, sometimes great, but never exceptional.

The concept of pros versus cons also applies to Tuesday’s season finale. Some storylines and relationships progress in a big way, while others adhere to a more methodical approach. The episode is effective from a narrative standpoint, but it is certainly not iconic from a comedy perspective.

But if asked to weigh the pros against the cons, fans will likely decide in favor of the former. A pre-air review of the episode confirms that it is a good finale. It is certainly an engaging and effective one.

Entitled “Clean Break,” the episode airs Tuesday night at 9PM ET. In the spirit of the fourth season finale, here are four things to expect:

Coach’s departure is the trigger, not the focus
In theory, the fourth season “New Girl” finale is built on Coach’s departure from the loft (and cast member Damon Wayans, Jr’s departure from the show). “Clean Break,” the episode’s title, comes from Coach’s philosophy to moving on: unwilling to carry any physical or emotional baggage as he moves from place-to-place, he makes a “clean break.” He aims to do the same as he leaves for New York.

In actuality, Coach’s “clean break” philosophy provides an impetus for “New Girl” to explore the lingering feelings between Jess and Nick and Schmidt and Cece. At what point do they have confront those lingering feelings? And when, if ever, is the time for the parties to make a clean break from each other?

Coach’s fairly low-key departure still provides a nice blend of humor and emotion, and it jibes appealingly with the tone and expectations of the show.

Effective, it is nonetheless never “massive.” And it never establishes itself as more important than the development surrounding the two core romantic pairings.

The focus is on the romantic pairings, and there is a very big development
Insofar as this is a “New Girl” season finale, the prospective Jess-Nick and Cece-Schmidt pairings are obviously in focus. Coach’s apparent ability to make a “clean break” from the loft prompts Jess and Nick to consider whether any romantic feelings exist, while Schmidt contemplates whether it is time to truly make a “clean break” from Cece.

For both sets of characters, the consequence is progression. For one pair, the consequence is very significant progression. Stagnation might be an appropriate descriptor for the season as a whole, but it has no place in a discussion about one of the season finale’s key moments.

Winston still matters
Coach is leaving. The Jess-Nick and Schmidt-Cece pairings come into focus. Winston is not a storyline focus of the season four “New Girl” finale.

He nonetheless plays a pivotal role in the episode. In addition to delivering the episode’s best verbal and physical humor, Winston also factors greatly into Coach’s departure. As he says goodbye to his friend and roommate, Winston challenges Coach’s “clean break” theory.

He also plays an indirect, yet key part in one of the episode’s climactic, relationship-oriented moments.

The takeaway? Winston fans should not assume his absence from the synopsis implies an absence from the actual episode.

It respects the characters
The most admirable thing about the season four finale is the extent to which it respects its characters. While all six principles endured inorganic, ineffective moments this season, the finale serves to recalibrate all of them. Everything they do–from the jokes they deliver, to the life decisions they make–feels sincere within the context of the show.

When putting together season finales, especially ones that involve character departures and big storyline developments, some series sacrifice their characters and tones to make the narrative work. Here, “New Girl” creates a season-ending narrative that fits its characters likes a glove.

Written by Brian Cantor

Brian Cantor is the editor-in-chief for Headline Planet. He has been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and sporting spaces since 2002.

Brian's reporting has been cited by major websites like BuzzFeed, Billboard, the New Yorker and The Fader -- and shared by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

Contact Brian at brian.cantor[at]


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