When Zooey Deschanel went on maternity leave during “New Girl’s” fifth season, Megan Fox was cast as Reagan Lucas, a prickly pharmaceutical rep who rented Jess’ room while she was in jury sequester.
Reagan and Nick (Jake Johnson) eventually got romantically involved and then spent the summer hiatus together in New Orleans. But because of Fox herself giving birth in real life in August 2016, she could not return to “New Girl” in Season 6 until midseason.
But thank goodness she’s back.
After a brief appearance in the fall finale, “Christmas Eve Eve,” Fox is back for a multi-episode arc in 2017 and honestly, we hope she sticks around longer than that.
Upping the friend group to six gives the show a lot more choices in terms of storyline pairings. In this first episode that features the whole gang, they are paired off in two trios, with Jess, Reagan and Nick carrying the A-plot, while Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Cece (Hannah Simone) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) have a cute B-plot.
But now the show could deftly pull off three storylines, pairing everyone up in various amalgamations the way some “Friends” episodes did, which led to some really fun supporting plots.
Addtionally, Jess and Reagan have surprisingly good chemistry together. To be honest, we were a bit skeptical about Deschanel and Fox’s very different styles of comedy meshing well, but watching them have a girls’ night together was highly enjoyable. Plus there’s the extra added bonus of Jess and Nick’s history and Jess currently having some renewed feelings for Nick, which complicates the situation nicely.
Fox and Johnson also have a nice thing going. They don’t sizzle quite the way early “New Girl” Nick and Jess did, but their characters are both weird and somewhat dysfunctional, which makes their relationship rife with emotional landmines — a solid feature for a sitcom romance.
Unfortunately, it seems destined that eventually Jess will confess her feelings — or even act on them — and that’s what will send Reagan packing. Which is too bad, because Fox is once again providing a breath of fresh air for the show.
But we’ll enjoy what we can get out of Fox in Season 6 and hope that the show gets renewed for a seventh season, which could keep Reagan around a little longer. Nick and Jess getting back together is a hurdle the show probably doesn’t want to clear until close to the series ending; Reagan sticking around will definitely help them stretch out that dance a little longer.
“New Girl” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.