Plus: EPs Brett Baer and Dave Finkel preview the series finale

She may no longer be the new girl, but Jess (Zooey Deschanel) can still sport a new look. The question is, can she pull it off in front of her ex?

In the exclusive clip from the final season premiere of New Girl above, Jess catches up with Cece (Hannah Simone) after a few years abroad with Nick (Jake Johnson), only to run into Russell a.k.a. Fancyman a.k.a. her ex with roughly 50 children (guest star Dermot Mulroney). And unfortunately for her, she’s come back to the States with a nose ring she calls a “big mistake” and a misspelled neck tattoo that reads “JSES.”

So, yeah, not Jess’s best. At least season 7 finds Jess and Nick finally settled down after years of romantic tumult. Well, sort of settled down: New Girl’s final, eight-episode run begins with a three-year time jump, and as Jess explains in the clip, the couple’s together but not engaged. “The challenge for us was finding fun conflicts that didn’t question, ‘Will they or won’t they?’” EP Dave Finkel explains. “They will and they are, but what does that take?”

“The biggest challenge [going into the final season] definitely was not getting repetitive, because they have been through so many cycles as a couple, and we’ve made so many moves with them,” EP Brett Baer adds. “We wanted to make sure we were moving into fresh territory… For us, what we wanted to do was show the changes and growth in their characters, in a couple-hood that’s functional and supportive and loving.”

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Much of the final season is dedicated to seeing the leads finally enter adulthood. Schmidt (Max Greenfield) will embrace parenthood with Cece after starting out as the show’s primary douche jar contributor, and Winston will move forward with Nasim Pedrad’s Aly after debuting on the series as a lonely single man in search of a calling. As Finkel puts it, “This show has always been [about], what are these people going to be like once they grow up and become their better selves?”

All of it will lead to a series finale that Baer calls “emotionally satisfying” — though Finkel is careful not to spill any more details. “The one thing that I can promise is, in typical New Girl fashion, nothing ever comes without some sort of a curveball,” Finkel says of the final episode. “We obviously love these characters and we want to send them off the right way, and I think we’ve done a fair job of that, but you know nothing ever goes down easy here.”

That said, New Girl‘s not going to abandon its typical antics just because the characters are growing up. Crafting a final season gave the show’s writers a chance to give plenty of fan-favorite guest stars curtain calls (along with Mulroney, others set to pop up in season 7 include Jamie Lee Curtis, Damon Wayans, Jr., Rob Reiner, and more) and revisit some of the series’ best running gags. That, of course, includes one last game of True American. “We asked the writers to come in with everything they wanted to hit one more time,” Baer says. “That was right at the top of the list.”

One, two, three, four! JFK…

New Girl returns Tuesday, April 10, at 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Episode Recaps

New Girl

Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.

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