there is literally nothing better than when you accidentally come across a book that totally blows you away and it makes you feel that warm and full feeling that only books can give you
Before and After Pictures of Animals Growing Up [via]
Previously: Animals Using Other Animals as Pillows
I fell in love with Jess the moment she walked through the door.
The very short version of my thoughts on this development because I’m supposed to be prepping for a work meeting, not delving into the psychology of Nick Miller because apparently that’s not my actual professional job? Anyway.
I love this line because it shows both the self-awareness and the braveness that the Nick Miller of today is rocking. HOWEVER, there are several things this doesn’t mean. This doesn’t mean he was aware of it then. This doesn’t mean even when he was aware of it, that he admitted to himself — or even realized — the depths of what he was feeling.
And that’s what I think jives best with the past three years of canon: because Jess was right. She did annoy him at the beginning. Even though Jake Johnson in all those interviews is also right: he’s been into her since she walked through that door.
But Nick’s nothing if not a guy who’s really really good at avoiding things he’s uncomfortable with. Insert montage of: The Box, panic moonwalking, got me cookie got you cookie, his father, talking to Caroline in a fake cockney accent.
And being secretly into any friend, let alone your girl roommate — especially if you feel surprised or conflicted by that, which I feel very sure grouchy hoodie-over-face early Nick Miller did — is exactly the kind of thing anyone would shove deep down and try to ignore. Both as self-preservation, because it’s painful, and just in order to be able to keep having normal everyday interactions.
I dothink what’s interesting is that his announcement absolutely hinges on what happened at the end of season one; when he left Caroline. When he came back for Jess. After they talked in the desert. AND I ALSO REALLY REALLY LOVED that this episode was a payoff of those two storylines all the way back from the season one finale: why and how he left Caroline (I’ve always felt so badly for her — they’d signed a lease together! He was driving his stuff over to move in!) and how much of his own reasoning about why he came back was that it was about Jess (rather than all the other reasons his roommates had been telling him this was a bad idea). Because it was a finale, we never saw the fallout or conversations about either thing, like a sketch that has the bare minimum of lines drawn in to make something recognizable — and it was so rewarding to get even some of that wrapped up almost two years later.
BUT. SO. MY ACTUAL POINT:
I don’t think this is going to change at all the way I watch early episodes. I don’t think being-in-love-with-Jess was something that was running through the mind of Nick Miller in 2011. (I think you can point in part to how different his relationship was with Julia than with Angie; he’s a lot more emotionally invested in the former, while Angie felt so much like an attempt to distract himself from Jess.)
Which brings me to something else I feel strongly about: it’s not love, can’t be love, when you don’t know someone very well. (I HAAAAATE the idea of love at first sight. As a concept.) It can be like. It can be a really strong connection. But it’s with time that it turns into love — and then you can look back and slot all the early things into that context.
But AS I WAS SAYING: it’s not going to change the way I watch the first, what, 38 episodes of the show. I think what’s truly delightful and fascinating is watching season one and two as a window into Nick’s growing awareness of (1) his attraction to Jess and then, later, (2) how serious and feelingsy it actually was. That’s the nuance and subtext that’s been so awesome the whole way through and this is a lovely confirmation of that — and a really fascinating insight into where his head is now — but it doesn’t retcon or reduce what’s always been so great about this pairing and this character. The snark, the grumpiness, the arguing, the need to avoid any and all conversations about feelings. His casting about, trying to figure things out personally, make his life less miserable: tomatoes and Caroline and Julia and undergrads and Angie and everything else. (Jake Johnson has said those great things about how he thinks Nick was going through a mental breakdown in season 1, because he was so erratic, and this plays really neatly into that. The breakdown from trying to pretend you’re not falling in love, when she’s been getting under your skin in complicated, confusing ways from the day you met her.)
Personally, I don’t think he’d reached that second stage of realizing how much he actually felt for Jess when he went back to Caroline; I think he absolutely had by the time of their fight in Fluffer. (I’m so fascinated by that summer between seasons one and two: I think something big shifted in him and their dynamic by the time of Relaunch is NOTICEABLY different than it was in the Normal/Tomatoes timeframe) and I would love to see the day to day that led to that.)
But there are lots of different readings of the timeline; and this revelation makes them all a little more fascinating, but I don’t think makes Turtleface Miller into a huge sap or otherwise negates any of them — even the idea that he really didn’t like Jess very much for a long time, or told himself he didn’t. Falling in love takes a long time. Even longer when you’re trying hard not to. Even though once you’ve gotten there, it all feels so perfectly clear.
Haha, I’m the same way. I’m not even gonna try to keep this response short.
I think you’re 100% right, that he wasn’t actually in love with her — that he only in retrospect realizes that his feelings for her back then were the beginnings of falling in love. But there was a connection. She annoyed him. (Jess is right about this, but she doesn’t realize that to him, this was actually an attractive quality.) She challenged him. She got his attention. Her opinions mattered. And she was smart, and funny, and sweet, and so damn pretty. He may not have consciously realized what was going on, but any time he was able to do something for her, he’d just do it without realizing it. Remember the scene in the car in Cece Crashes when he bought her the rose? This was just one of many gestures he makes where he didn’t think — he just did something because he felt something for her and it came naturally for him.
The turning point, actually, for him, was See Ya. I’ve read a lot of different arguments about when Nick fell in love with Jess, or when he realized it — but with the information we just got, that he’s been into her from the moment he first saw her, that he left Caroline because of Jess — what that means to me is that it was that moment in the desert, when she told him she’d be okay without him, that made him realize exactly what he felt for her. It was that moment he realized he loved her. I still think he left for the new apartment/new life with Caroline much for the same reason he took the bar exam even after he knew he didn’t want to be a lawyer. He needed to make the decision to change his life on his own terms. He tried — he tried as much as he could to live the life he’d always thought he should have, so that when he made the decision to change direction it was because he realized it was the wrong direction, not because he couldn’t. His relationship with Caroline ended because he realized she wasn’t right for him — there was someone better out there — and not because he had no choice, because she broke up with him. It’s so perfectly in character. He needs to know what’s going to happen. He commits himself 100% to something he cares about, and only after he’s given the alternative a lot of thought does he make the decision to change direction.
And yes, we have a nice big blank of a summer that takes place in the meantime, but starting from Relaunch, the very next episode, their relationship is different. He demonstrates how much he cares about her so much more directly. He’s there for her like no one else when she’s fired. He is seriously shaken at the thought of hurting her in the future in Katie. By episode 3 — Fluffer — he not only is demonstrating that he’s playing a boyfriend-like role in her life, but he tells her he’s attracted to her. I wonder what would have happened if, in some alternate universe, Jess had told him she wanted to be more than friends at that point. He probably would have been stunned but I highly doubt he’d have tried to dissuade her. And this is when he ends up building her the dresser, when he knows what it implies. And Winston, his friend who really does know him better than anyone else, calls him on it because he doesn’t want to see him get hurt.
And he knows that she’s not interested in him that way. She dates all these other guys, and she’s happy, and even when she starts her casual relationship with Sam, at the beginning — he sees how this will be good for her, how confident it’s making her. He starts dating a stripper, as you said, as a distraction — I highly doubt he ever intended to stay with Angie forever; it was a doomed relationship from the start because when you’re thinking about forever, Angie would never have been right for him. She was good for him in the beginning, though, much as Sam was for Jess, when feelings weren’t involved. And then it falls apart, and Jess is with Sam and seemingly happy, and he’s forced to confront his feelings for her during the drinking game, and he can’t handle it.
Because until then, he’s been repressing everything he felt for her. He fails, sometimes. His feelings come out in bursts — when he goes to her after she’s been stood up; when he misses his flight; basically, when she needs him. Because that’s his Achilles heel — to be needed. It’s why he had a crappy childhood, because his family needed him. It’s why he stuck with Schmidt for so long — because as much as Schmidt denied that it was necessary, his role as Keaton, and more outwardly, during Schmidt’s Fat days, were also times Schmidt needed Nick.
And so, in See Ya, when he says she needs him too much, and she says no, and lets him go — it’s the mirror of his decision about law vs. bartending. It’s the mirror of his decision to leave Caroline. She lets him make his own decision. And it’s in those moments that Nick does best — when the pressure is taken off, and he can view things objectively, and see down both roads, and only then make the call. Nick never got over Caroline because she never let him be the one to make the choice to leave. She always broke up with him. She changed direction on him when he wasn’t ready. But Jess, as much as she’s made her feelings known about his choices, lets him make them on his own. She lets him be an adult, and he could never disappoint her in that. Because with her, he’s the man he wants to be.
I cut these little hearts out of the pepperoni with a small cookie cutter. :-)
I know you don’t want to be alone, but I’m going to be there.
The way people in love gaze at each other – the way they look lovingly at each other – the knowing glances they share with each other— tells you they are in love. There is a “look to love.”
I’m sitting here thinking of all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I’m sorry for that. I’ll always love you because we grew up together. You helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know, there will be a piece of you in me always. And I’m grateful for that. Whatever someone you become and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my friend to the end.
Her, dir. Spike Jonze
I definitely check my phone for texts a lot—like, “Did anyone text me? Is anyone thinking about me? Does anyone love me?” I have that sort of wrist action—you know, when you have your phone upside down on the table, and there’s this little flip of the wrist you can do to look if there are any texts on the screen. It’s a very specific wrist muscle that I think has only been developed in the last five or eight years.
Amongst all the absolutely ridiculous discussion of this episode going around, I would just like to point one thing out here.
The problems of your future are my privilege”
He doesn’t say “my business”, or “my problems”, he says his “privilege”.
Can I just say how great that is, considering how a lot of a *cough* certain person’s writing tends to locate women as possessions of men to be toyed with, and how a lot of the time in television a man would assert that a woman’s life is his to control?
But no, John Watson doesn’t do that. He says this is his privilege, because he loves Mary and he wants her in his life, for better or for worse, and he is hoping she will continue to be in his life of her own volition.
I just really like that line I’m sorry it just means a lot to see something like that, even so small.