Interestingly, the only thing Nick and Jess didn’t bicker about was their future child’s name: Reginald Veljohnson (per a bet Nick lost to Schmidt: “He said I could flip a big pancake, and I couldn’t”). But everything else… yeesh…. Jess claimed Reginald would be too shy to beg for an education and would instead delight in the leaves by the lake where they lived (Nick hates lakes, apparently?); Nick wondered why he’d spend his hard-earned truck-driving money on “an earth house” when they could live on Mars Landing. Brass tacks: Nick was the first to mention breaking up. In a knee-jerk reaction, they both laughed it off and agreed this particular fight was not worth ending their relationship. They went back to assembling the toy with such vigor and forced togetherness that it seemed inevitable something bad was coming. Nick even agreed to move near a lake, where he and Reginald would start a newsletter called Lake Father, Lake Son. Jess even claimed she put up with Nick’s trucker life “for six months, tops.”
Several snapped toy parts and one foolhardy attempt at welding by Nick later, things got literally explosive. Nick had an incident with a Zippo and accidentally set his blanket on fire. When Jess sought something for water to douse the flames, he reminded her she couldn’t use his “meat bucket” — not a euphemism. She naturally, if shriekily noted what an idiotic idea that was, but he insisted she had praised his idea of “tast[ing] what meat tasted like before electricity.” Jess had to admit she’d only accepted it because “if [she] was always honest… then [they] would never stop fighting.” Soon enough their relationship, Jacob’s playset, and the loft were up in flames.
Hours later, while sorting through the wreckage, they reached a bittersweet and surprisingly adult agreement not to continue this relationship at the expense of their friendship. Nick and Jess parted awkwardly, honestly (and with a bit of Saving Private Ryan because… Nick). Their last moments were like a greatest-hits retrospective of their time as a couple: Jess gave Nick the same finger guns she’d given him when he declared his he love, and they walked to their separate rooms before she ran out of her room for a fierce embrace that mirrored their first kiss in “Cooler.” Jake Johnson confirmed at a Stella event in NYC on Tuesday that everything about the scene (beautifully directed by Your Sister’s Sister helmer Lynn Shelton) was blocked for this very effect — right down to Nick’s green shirt. No wonder I couldn’t help but feel wistful.
The break-up itself wasn’t a waterworks moment — for me, at least. It was much more understated than that. But I did feel a distinct sinking of the heart as they walked off in toward their rooms — only a few feet apart physically, but seemingly irreparably distant. What do you think, folks? Will Jess and Nick be able to recover as a couple? As friends? Do you want them to?
NEXT: And now for something a little lighter…