Let’s talk about Nick Miller. Let’s talk about him and Jess and this new way I’ve been thinking about their breakup, realizing the genius, twisted irony of it.
While I was writing about broken-up Nick and Jess last week, I spent a lot of time thinking about the two sides of their relationship: the things that work and the things that don’t and why.
The Mars Landing fight focused on both the past (their relationship so far, arguing all the time, biting things back) and the future, ostensibly about their attitudes toward planning, their worldviews and belief systems. But there’s another hugely important unspoken layer to that conversation.
When Jess was asking if he imagined a kid they’d have together, talking about a house by the lake and Christmas morning, she was at the same time saying: I’m ready for this; I’m ready for this with you. Or at least ready to let you know that someday I will be. A future where things are a lot more grown-up; a post-loft world where they’re still together.
And poor Nick Miller, so afraid he’d screw it up from day one, missed the ball coming across the plate. Didn’t even realize he was up at bat.
She was saying: I think all the time about spending my whole life with you. (Even if some of that thinking is with trepidation.) And he was so afraid of rocking the boat of the universe, afraid of taking a different approach to life and thinking about the future, believing things maybe *will* work out, even if you have to force yourself out of your comfort zone and into something like adulthood — that he said no. He backed down. He derailed. He said, without realizing he was saying it: I won’t imagine with you a real future where we’re together. Because he doesn’t believe in a world where things work out that way. Doesn’t really dare to let himself hope beyond what he has now. Messed up from Caroline and Julia and his family and always always from Walt.
The way his face fell on the roof in Winston’s Birthday when he thought she was slipping away before he even really had her. The way he forced her to admit she worried he was too messed up, at Cece’s wedding, and then turned tail when faced with things being that real, that potential bad. Called the whole thing off. So afraid of how he was going to mess things up. How bad it was going to hurt.
“I realized something … I’d do anything for ya’, Jess,” he tells her in the bank. But what he has to do now is even bigger and scarier: he has to do something for himself and for both of them. It’s being able to say: yes, I see a future with you — which means being brave enough to imagine a future where life is good; where things are okay for ol’ lemonade-into-lemons Nick Miller. I think that’s the long game for him.
He’s a little broken: that’s what he said when he told her people don’t change. He didn’t think his dad would; he doesn’t think he can.
Here’s what I want to give Nick: a year like Pam Beesly’s season 3. Being forced to change and forcing herself. Signing up for art classes and living alone and running across coals and saying what she means, brave, in front of everyone. Watch out world, old Pammy is getting what she wants.
I want fancy new Miller like we got fancy new Beesly. Not some unrecognizable guy in a scarf and Brylcreamed hair; Pam didn’t turn into Karen or Jan, after all. I want a Nick who’s *himself*, but who’s figured out that he can fight his way forward, through the hedgemaze of insecurity, away from the world that’s pessimistic but safe — and who’s realizing he can be happier for it.
I doubt that’s what we’ll get this season, really, but I think it’s coming. Maybe in season 5?
But I want to see the look on his face when he realizes: this girl he loves, this girl who’s changed every part of his life, she was telling him, in her own roundabout and mixed up way, that he was it for her. Wanted to have kids and a house and the whole daydreamed expanse of the future *together*. Wanted to marry him.
I want him to realize that and then figure out he can make that happen. She’s the kind of girl a guy would come back for.