The success of a show can work against it when facing the pressure cooker of a season finale, but New Girl refused to let its hot streak end, wrapping up its second season with an exquisite blend of gags and poignant moments.
It has been difficult to nail down exactly why New Girl has turned the corner from an enjoyable weekday laugh to can't-miss TV, but when the credits rolled on season two, it started to come into focus. The wackiness displayed by the four main characters, in the end, has meant more than a cheap laugh along the way. Each long-running gag, like Nick's awkward moonwalking, has been a vehicle for serious commentary.
The entire wedding sabotage, complete with a Big Ten mascot in the air ducts, proved to be a meaningful moment for all the roommates. The inclusion of Nick's pilfered Cotton Eye Joe CD in the sabotage revealed Jess' concerns that Nick was too unreliable to be with. After an involuntary fist-pumping session, Nick, wounded by Jess' comments, used her accusation as an excuse to call things off and join Schmidt and Winston's tomfoolery. Winston, the criminally underutilized Lamorne Morris, was relishing his moment in the sun, finally having received the green light to perform one of his horrific stunts. Just about everything that came out of Winston's mouth in "Elaine's Big Day" was hilarious, but behind all the wedding hijinks, his character seemed genuinely satisfied to be on a center stage.
Schmidt's season-long pining for Cece was on full display in the finale, but the writers made sure to mask each moment with a quip. My favorite came when confronted by Elizabeth about his motives for breaking up the wedding.
"It's only romantic because it's a wedding. I'd be just as happy to sabotage, I don't know, let's say, her tax audit."
Some may complain that his abrupt exit when faced with a clear choice between Elizabeth and Cece was a cop out, but I think it fit his emotionally high strung character.
Some of the finest acting of the season came in the final five minutes. Jess' tearful acceptance of their break up left the audience fearing the worst. Then the unlikeliest hero of season two, complete with a fresh badger bite, came crawling out of the air ducts to save the finest sitcom romance since Sam and Diane. Winston's simple direction, "go," was enough to shake Nick free of his self-destructive behavior.
It was a perfect conclusion to the season and a microcosm of what has made the show so successful. Winston's entry from the air ducts was funny, his commentary moving and his closing joke, "hey bartender, can you call an ambulance? I'm about to bleed out," hilarious. This rare blend of mayhem and meaning has served the series well and gives it more than enough momentum as it heads toward season three.