After last week's season premiere, we discused New Girl's unique ability to feature standard sitcom stories that have been done a bazillionty times before—like Schmidt's dual dating of Cece and Elizabeth—without being all stale and horrible and un-watchable. That trend continued this week in "Nerd," when Jess ran afoul of a cliche workplace clique, Schmidt continued to date both Elizabeth and Cece, and Winston contemplated the best way to kill a cat.
Okay, so Winston's story was actually pretty unique, all things considered. I mean, let's just take a moment to appreciate the fact that a third of this week's episode was dedicated to watching a protagonist try to kill a cheating girlfriend's pet. It doesn't matter that in the end, Winston decided to let Ferguson live—like we (mostly) figured he would. The intent was there. Winston's kinda creepy and it's awesome.
The strength of "Nerd" lies in its diversity. All of our loft-mates were given fairly equal attention, even Winston's weird feline-homicide plot had a much more nuanced point at it's core. After tip-toeing around their relationship status since the middle of last season, Winston decided to ask Daisy to make things official... only to learn that she was sleeping with someone else. Ouch, boo.
Meanwhile, Jess and Nick's storyline managed to feel rather vintage New Girl by walking the line between being a Nick-and-Jess story and being a Nick/Jess story (and it did so very well, I might add!). Jess's struggle to fit in with the cool teachers at her new school and Nick's semi-disastrous attempts to be her coolness guru could've easily been a Season 2 story. The romantic aspect of their relationship wasn't essential to the story—which, for those of us who might be a little nervous about the potentially premature launch of the good ship Nessy, is a very good thing. As characters, Jess and Nick are still full of potential stories that don't hinge on their relationship insecurities or swapping cooties in the backseat of the car. Nick didn't try to help Jess because she's his girlfriend, but rather because she's his friend. He cares about her—but these two characters cared about each other long before New Girl's writers went and made them an official "thing."
While it was certainly refreshing to see Jess be insecure about something completely unrelated to Nick, deep down in my Grinch heart I feel that we've had so many variations of the "Jess doesn't fit in" story that it was a little bit hard to get excited about yet another adventure in self-acceptance—even with a cameo from a Paula Cole-loving, jacuz-hoarding Curtis Armstrong. With that in mind, I'm willing to argue that Jess vs. the Popular Clique wasn't really about Jess fitting in as much as it was about the writers reassuring us that even though they're a couple now, Nick and Jess are still individuals, and even though we've had a lot—a lot—of Nessy action in the last few episodes (if we're looking at the last few episodes of Season 2 in addition to last week's premiere), New Girl isn't about to switch to an all-Nessy-all-the-time format.
Finally, we have Schmidt (and Schmidt's nipples). I said it last week and I'll say it again: I should hate the Schmidt/Cece/Elizabeth storyline. We should all hate the Schmidt/Cece/Elizabeth storyline. But I don't, and based on your comments last week, many of you don't either. I loathe love triangles. Loathe them. I didn't like the one that happened on Suits and I didn't like the one that happened on Being Human and don't even get me started on Glee (all that one's more like a love hexagon at this point). And yet, when Schmidt's super-evil co-worker (IT'S JUST AN OFFICE, CRAZYPANTS) made it her primary objective to force Schmidt to choose between Cece and Elizabeth under the worst possible circumstances at the worst time—and with, undoubtedly, the worst possible outcome in mind—I crossed my fingers and toes and actively hoped that everything would be okay-ish and we'd get to watch Schmidtty continue his charade for at least one more week. IDK. THIS IS WHAT NEW GIRL DOES TO ME. Does it do the same thing to you? Wanna join my support group? BYOB, and by B I mean hard liquor. And speaking of Bs—hey look it's the other kind of B (in Apt. 23): Hi, Dreama Walker!
Even though I personally loved last week's premiere, I understand that it was kind of hit-or-miss for some of the New Girl faithful. I think we can all agree that "Nerd" represented a fine return to form though, yes? Maybe? What'd you think of the episode?
– Line o' the night, "Schools are for fools! Sometimes firemen are women!" —Drunk Jess. <3 her.
– Also rounding out the solid guest-star roster this week was Angela Kinsey from The Office.
– I caught a few glimpses of secretly-responsible-Nick in his struggle to juggle Jess's dilemma and make sure Winston didn't actually murder Daisy's cat. I like. Also, I know Margo Martindale is like, super busy right now, probably, but I wouldn't mind a return to Chicago to chill with Mama Miller and the fam at some point this season. What do you say?
– "I Believe I Can Fly." That was beautiful, guys.
– Was Winston right to steal Ferguson? "I got yer cat!"
– Do you have a hard time accepting Zooey Deschanel/Jessica Day as the epitome of unpopular?
– How much longer can Schmidt maintain the delicate Cece/Elizabeth balance?
– Did you think that Elizabeth and Cece were kind of dense at the dinner party? I mean, c'mon ladies.
AIRED ON 5/10/2016
Season 5 : Episode 22