New Girl Final Season Premiere Recap: Did Nick and Jess Get Engaged?

New Girl‘s final season premiere trolls the audience not once, but twice.

The episode begins with a “previously on…” sequence featuring Nick and Jess’ epic elevator kiss. We then cut to present day, and a different set of elevator doors open to reveal Jess arm-in-arm with (gulp!) another man, who is ultimately revealed to be Merle’s boyfriend.

Nick then enters and kisses Jess. It’s been three years since they got back together, and they’re still madly in love. They’re at the airport, having just returned from the European leg of Nick’s book tour, and are about to attend a birthday party for Schmidt and Cece’s daughter Ruth. Before they leave, Jess extends her left arm and teases, “Wait until everyone sees what Momma’s got on her finger!” There’s something to see alright, but it’s not an engagement ring: It’s a cast to cover the ring finger she broke in a Vespa accident.

It’s soon revealed that Nick has plans to pop the question later that evening. He receives a phone call from an impatient Bob, who doesn’t understand why his daughter isn’t engaged six months after giving Nick his blessing. That’s when Nick finally divulges his proposal plan, involving a male au pair he hired in Turkey to ship the ring back to the loft.

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Among the attendees at Ruth’s party is Jess’ ex-boyfriend Russell (Dermot Mulroney), who now has a 3-year-old son. Jess lies to him about getting engaged, which soon blows up in her face. Fancyman approaches Nick and Jess to congratulate Nick on the engagement, and Jess is forced to come clean. As this is happening, birthday festivities get out of hand. Schmidt and Cece make the mistake of serving alcohol to fellow parents, who wind up in a violent game of musical chairs. One especially hammered mother attempts to climb a tree in high heels, loses her balance and falls on Jess, who is in the midst of apologizing to Nick for her little white lie.

Afterwards, Nick and Jess return to the loft, and he insists on opening mail before they hit the hay. He hands her the envelope from Turkey and attempts to get down on one knee, but is interrupted by a knock at the door. It’s Russell, who has come to offer Jess the chance to run his education-based nonprofit. The rest of the gang arrives almost immediately after Fancyman leaves to cut Ruth’s birthday cake.

Once everyone is settled, Nick tells Jess to go ahead and open the envelope, but she stops herself before breaking the seal. She tells everyone how much she’s missed them, then turns to Nick and says that she doesn’t need their relationship to change. She’s happy with the way things are and doesn’t want anything to jeopardize that — even marriage. (Sigh!) Nick reluctantly agrees, then leaves the living room to call Bob and let him know that the proposal is off, at least for now. Jess’ dad stops short of rescinding his blessing, and instead gives his prospective son-in-law a one month deadline to pop the question.

Elsewhere in the episode…

* Winston and Aly are already married and expecting their first child. Aly is seven months along, and sick of being treated differently just because she’s pregnant. When Winston convinces her to take a look at the photos from their pregnancy shoot, it finally dawns on her that she’s a “walking miracle with magic inside,” and deserves to be waited on hand and foot.

* Stay-at-home dad Schmidt has grown a grotesque mustache — and Nick doesn’t like it one bit. As the premiere draws to a close, Schmidt hands Nick a razor and gives him the, umm, privilege of shaving him. It’s an oddly sensual moment… and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

* As the rest of the gang watches Schmidt get groomed, Jess says how great it is to have everyone back in the loft. We then cut to a close up of a notice being slipped under the apartment’s front door. It’s to inform Nick and Jess that the building is under new management effective immediately, and their rent can rise at a moment’s notice. Uh-oh!

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