‘New Girl’ Sees Jess and the Gang Enter Adulthood in Final Season

After a satisfying sixth season finale that saw its central couple reunited, Fox’s “New Girl” has returned for an abbreviated seventh and final season to send Jess (Zooey Deschanel), Nick (Jake Johnson) and their friends off into the sunset. If last season’s finale, which also included a major pregnancy announcement, seemed particularly gratifying, that’s because at the time of it’s airing it’s status was still up in the air, forcing creator and showrunner Elizabeth Meriwether to write an episode that could serve as a season finale if necessary. Fortunately, “New Girl” was able to escape the axe in the eleventh hour, giving Meriweather and company the opportunity to show more of the characters’ journey into adulthood, and if the season premiere is any indication, these final eight episodes promise further character growth and milestones, plus more of the same goofy humor and crazy antics that fans have come to expect.

The seventh season premiere, titled “About Three Years Later,” picks up — surprise — three years after the events of the last episode. Jess and Nick, whom we last saw smooching in a elevator, are still growing strong, having just returned from a six-month stay in Europe, where Nick, a successful writer, had been promoting his novel. As for the rest of the Loft Gang, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) are now the parents of an adorable daughter, Ruth Bader Pekah-Schmidt (Danielle and Rhiannon Rockof), while Winston (Lamorne Morris) eagerly awaits the arrival of his first child with now-wife Aly (Nasim Pedrad).

Jess and Nick’s first stop upon returning to the States is little Ruth’s third birthday party, the theme of which is Wonder Women (think less Gal Gadot, more Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton), which is quite appropriate for an episode that that plays around with gender stereotypes. Schmidt, who was something of an overgrown frat boy and womanizer when the series begun, is now a stay-at-home-dad. In this episode, his singular goal is to make sure his daughter’s birthday is perfect, while Cece is more relaxed about the whole ordeal, but neither are prepared for what happens after the other parents go overboard with the adult beverages. Winston, meanwhile, geeks out over his and Aly’s maternity photos, while the headstrong mom-to-be is less than thrilled to be in her current delicate condition and becomes upset when anyone ventures to show her special treatment.  However, she is able to come around once she sees herself through her husband’s eyes in a sweet, albeit somewhat contrived, scene.

Much of the focus of the episode is on the fact that Jess and Nick are not yet engaged, something that their friends assumed would happen during their time abroad. Like most women who find themselves at this particular crossroad, Jess wrestles with whether marriage is something that she truly wants, or if she has just been conditioned by society to expect it. However, when her smug ex, Russell (Dermot Mulroney), questions her on her lack of ring, she saves face by telling a little white lie about a European proposal. But what she doesn’t know is that Nick has not only purchased a ring, but has also received a blessing from her anxious father, Bob (Rob Reiner). For baffling reasons, Nick has decided to wait until he and Jess have returned to their apartment, which they finally live in alone, to propose. Mercifully, their clueless friends arrive before he can pop the question, giving him time to think of something more romantic. Just when it seems like the plot of the remaining seven episodes will revolve around a wedding, a fastball is thrown in the form of an eviction notice that is slipped underneath of the door at the last possible moment. Will the gang be able to save their beloved loft? Will Jess and Nick make it to the altar? Almost certainly yes and yes, but the real fun is sure to be had in the hijinks they will get into along the way to happily ever after.

New Girl” season seven premieres April 10 and airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.