A welcome departure from last week, “Valentine’s Day” saw some major plot developments for every member of the cast, cramming an awful lot of storylines into 22 minutes – and Winston finally got some screen time!
The episode begins with Winston and Nick getting ready for a seemingly perfect Valentine’s Day. Nick is still with Julia, the successful and driven lawyer, while Winston is going on a first date with Shelby, introduced two episodes ago as a former flame whom Winston is determined to get back. Even though she only wants to hang out at her place for the night, Winston is determined to make the evening sexy.
Meanwhile, single housemates Schmidt and Jess lament over their general loneliness, but take two different approaches – Schmidt wants to stay in and mope, while Jess, who has not been single for Valentine’s Day in six years, is determined to go out and indulge her “twirly” – Jess-speak for horny – side. As she divulges her plan to grab a one-night stand to her best friend Cece, it’s wisely pointed out that this attitude is completely foreign and simply not her – evidenced by the fact that Jess feels the need to pack a sewing kit and socks in an overnight bag just in case. A reluctant Cece and Schmidt decide to follow Jess to a bar to keep an eye on her.
While Jess goes out to “get with some strange,” as she declares, Nick is forced to bring Valentine’s Day to Julia, who is stuck in her office working. Instead of embarking on a romantic evening, Nick is forced to spend hours with Julia’s assistant, Cliff, eventually giving him the champagne he brought for his girlfriend. The two engage in a disastrous heart-to-heart which ends with Cliff deciding that he does not, in fact, want to be a lawyer and he definitely doesn’t want to be an assistant anymore. He storms out, knocking over a stack of boxes in the process, which not only gives Julia hours of more work but effectively ruins the new couple’s evening.
Winston, on the other hand, has the most successful Valentine’s Day out of any of them. After arriving at Shelby’s, he is greeted not just by his date, but by three other women—he’s been invited to a girl’s night in. However, instead of pouting, he indulges the women in a night of pampering and girl talk, proving to Shelby that he has reformed from his former Lothario ways and is now a sweet, sensitive guy deserving of her attention. It’s a nice look into Winston’s character – out of the three roommates, he definitely appears to be the most functioning and well-adjusted.
At the club, Jess is encouraged to meet a man she has no emotional connection to whatsoever. With Schmidt and Cece’s encouragement, she meets a man named Oliver, a “web creator” with whom the only thing she has in common is a love of lunch. After talking about lunch for what seems like eternity, he invites her back to his place. The only problem? Neither of them have a car, forcing Schmidt to drive them to Oliver’s place. Meanwhile, there’s some obvious sexual tension between Cece and Schmidt – the two are laughing, flirting and getting along better than ever, only to be interrupted by Cece’s deadbeat boyfriend Kyle, who’s tripping on mushrooms that he “ate off of a pizza.”
When they arrive at Oliver’s, Schmidt insists on staying – not because Oliver invited him in to watch Planet of the Apes, but because he doesn’t want Jess to be wandering around in a neighborhood full of “youths.” Jess tells him she’ll take a cab and that Cece will come pick him up, but as he tries to leave, he realizes that his tires have been stolen.
Jess and Oliver, meanwhile, continue to get hot and heavy until a woman shows up who claims to be Oliver’s ex-girlfriend, with whom he still lives until she finds a new house. In typical New Girl fashion, chaos ensues. Schmidt comes in through the back door trying to find Cece, while Cece barges in through the front, further upsetting the ex-girlfriend. While this is happening, Kyle bursts in still high on shrooms, only to be pounced upon by Oliver’s ex-girlfriend in an attempt to make him jealous. Furious, Jess insists that they all leave so she can continue in her attempt to have a one-night stand. However, when she realizes how much Oliver misses his ex-girlfriend, she realizes that her behavior is completely out of character – she then uses her sweet disposition and mediating skills to help the two get back together while heading home.
Upon her arrival, however, she encounters Schmidt, who tells her that if she wants a one-night stand, she shouldn’t overthink it. Jess, unfortunately, sees this as a cue to initiate a hookup with Schmidt, only to be forcibly stopped by Nick, who has returned home from his ruined evening. Their loud bickering leads us to one of the biggest plot twists of the season: Inside Schmidt’s bedroom, it is revealed that he and Cece are, in fact, hooking up. While this pairing has been hinted at throughout the season, it didn’t seem likely to happen – while this twist seems a little sudden, it definitely adds an element of surprise and excitement that the show has been lacking recently.
This episode proved to be a major catalyst in establishing future relationships for the three original roommates – Nick must come to terms with the fact that his new girlfriend may not have time for him, Winston realizes that he can be a man deserving of a fulfilling relationship, while Schmidt and Cece’s future simply remains to be seen.