To introduce the episode, this was the synopsis the came up when I clicked “info” for this episode on my television:
“The roommates embark on a series of adventures after a large number of Chinese takeout menus are left on their front door.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically know how to react to a synopsis such as that. When New Girl decides to go balls-t0-the-wall crazy they often manage to turn out some of their funniest episodes, and straight knee-slapping laughter is something that has been woefully missing in the past few episodes. I’ve missed the moments of absurdity. Moments such as Nick being drunk on absinthe and unable to eat a grape, a flashback Schmidt doused in lube while Nick, high on mushrooms, tries to shove him back up to his top bunk. I’ve missed moments such as Winston enthusiastically singing along to the “Wicked” soundtrack and Zooey Deschanel’s fantastic physical comedy.
It seems that this week, to jumpstart the wacky conundrums that all of the characters find themselves in, we first need to see them all start at relative lows.
Coach catches Nick eating Chinese takeout for breakfast (which I didn’t realize was a bad thing…college kid perspective) and Jess is on a crusade to convince her boss to allow her to take her students on a field trip to the beach. Nick half-heartedly tells Jess to not get her hopes up and Coach, seeing Nick in a sorry state, vows to get him into better shape.
Obviously neither of these plans are going to work out as planned.
Coach has to deal with not only an unmotivated Nick but also Schmidt, who misses his roommates but refuses to admit it and Winston who hurt himself after tripping while eating ice cream and refuses to back down from a challenge, wanting to partake in Coach’s regimen as well. Coach tells Nick that he’s going to gain the boyfriend 15 and then 20 if he doesn’t clean up his act quick. Nick, having believed that his body simply hadn’t been graced with abs finally takes up Coach’s offer with the promise that he’ll see them in the end.
Jess meanwhile is fighting her own uphill battle with her boss. She’s trying to convince him of the field trip, telling him how obvious it is that some of the kids have never even seen an ocean before but he is undeterred and tells her no.
At home Nick catches on to her staple “crazy eyes” whenever she’s on the righteous war path and before he can do anything she notices the gratuitous amount of Chinese takeout menus sitting outside of their door. She’s on a rampage now because of how environmentally unsavory it is and how she needs to march herself down to the restaurant that instant and complain.
Nick notes that it’s obviously her lashing out due to something else that’s frustrating her but barely gets a word out edgewise before she’s out the door.
She meets employee Brian who at first seems nice and amicable and promises to fix the problem but she soon realizes it was a rouse and Brian is instead the restaurant owner and he simply didn’t want to deal with Jess since he thought she seemed crazy. Jess declares war on him, banging on their delivery truck and it’s one of Deschanel’s funniest moments so far this season and (to go back to what I initially wanted) allows her to use her physical comedy that she’s so good at.
Winston’s injury continues to worsen as he pushes himself and Coach finally gets Nick to begin their workout. It begins with a nice warm up to some techno beats and it was one of the numerous laugh-out-loud moments of the episode and showcases that, luckily, Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson have a nice chemistry which works in broad comedy.
Schmidt in his apartment is jealous since he had tried for years to get Nick to work out and always failed. Schmidt is essentially on his own for the entire episode, which is the point of course, but it’s odd to see him so detached from the group especially considering the strong year Max Greenfield is having in the role. However, I am concerned about how it will play out when Schmidt and Coach share more than a short scene together considering that at the moment they’re the two most cartoonish characters.
The workout doesn’t last long and Nick tricks Cece into bringing him food and he owns up to the fact that he can’t just be active, it’s not in his nature. There is a hilarious scene that has him and Coach fighting over a dumpling until Nick gets his bite and learns that it was a veggie dumpling, which made all of his effort worth nothing.
I do enjoy that the show doesn’t shy away from how Nick isn’t the typical leading man. Sure, he’s still a handsome guy, but he isn’t the type of handsome you typically see on television shows. He’s an awkward, average person and that’s what makes him so endearing to viewers. You almost don’t want him to work out with Coach because that isn’t the Nick Miller we’ve all come to enjoy so much.
He’s a representation of all of us folk who know the gym is a good idea in theory but the motivation to walk to one is just too out of our grasp.
Winston, in his own standalone story that really has no relation to the episode because that’s his character now, ends up in a wheelchair because of never letting up after injuring himself and essentially it’s made for a sight gag: Winston in a broken down wheelchair that he found in a dumpster with the faces that Lamorne Morris pulls is just plain funny.
Coach has given up on Nick and is now in a funk, saying Nick was his opportunity to convince himself that he’s still good at his job but since Nick failed it must mean that he’s a failure too.
Jess in our other storyline about a character who uses one incident to cover another, finds Winston after he’s had an allergic reaction to the Chinese food and his jaw begins to lock up. She wheels him down to Brian and tells the entire restaurant that Winston is what will happen to them if they eat the food.
It seems for a second that she may have won but then Brian comes in for the kill and fires the man who deposited all of the menus, causing the worker to break down in front of Jess.
Being Jess, this doesn’t sit well and she returns to the apartment to mope about it with Coach. They eat their Chinese and complain about the rude people who exist in the world and Nick, freaking out and being the most confident person in the room, tells the two of them that people like him need people like them, people who aren’t afraid to go after what they want and not give up. He, in his own version of a pep talk, tells Coach that he’s great at his job and that he can do anything he puts his mind to and tells Jess that she’s the most amazing person he’s ever met and can accomplish any challenge that she faces.
It still isn’t entirely working and then Schmidt shows up and Nick tells everyone to think of ways to get schoolchildren to the beach and Jess, finally motivated, thinks up a plan.
They’re going to use the restaurant’s delivery van. And this time she gets what she wants.
She gets the children to the beach with her boys in tow and Nick, feeling good after doing something that helped others, tells Coach that he should teach him how to run and does the best fun run across the beach since Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe on Friends ran enthusiastically through Central Park.
Winston tries to wheel after them to no avail and Jess, who’s hung back with a Schmidt who feels like he’s missing everything, gives him a key back to the apartment and tells him what he needed to hear, that they miss having him around.
It’s one of those nice little sentimental bookends before Schmidt gets to let loose and chase after the kids who are trying to bury a defenseless Winston.
I think I got what I wanted, or at least the episode I asked for, because oh my word the ridiculousness. We had Winston in a physical breakdown reminiscent of Tobias Funke on Arrested Development, Nick Miller trying and failing to do pushups and Jess furiously wreaking havoc. It was fun! I laughed, I liked all of the characters and thought they all got a moment to shine! As much as I enjoy Wayans I’m still not sure how much I buy him fitting in with the group, especially after his run-in with Cece, and if he’s going to be staying on for the entire rest of the season I hope the writing team establishes how he’s going to fit into the very solidified dynamic the current group has going on.
Regardless this episode was highly energetic, enjoyable and delivered a lot of laughs and sometimes that’s all that a comedy needs to do.