“New Girl”- Nerd (3.02) episode review 0

★★★★☆

There’s a lot of love drama happening this week on New Girl with most of it hitting the mark.

Schmidt is stuck between Elizabeth and Cece and is resistant to breaking either of their hearts, Winston has got his eye on one particular feline, Jess wants to get in with the cool kids and Nick showcases the most growth his character has gotten in a while.

This week’s episode still wasn’t up to its highest potential but it was close enough.

For an episode that went about its business making sure we all understood that the roommates rely on their codependency, they spend much of it in their own separate storylines from the sweet Nick and Jess to the frustrating Schmidt to the certifiably insane Winston. However, they’re all tied back together by their own hijinks so it doesn’t seem like they’re all partaking in their own shows.

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Schmidt probably gets the least rewarding storyline as he’s still dealing with him dating both Cece and Elizabeth and not telling either of them the truth. This is a tired narrative on any show ever. It never makes the audience sympathetic to the instigator’s plight, it’s forces them to dumb down the two female characters to make it believable that neither of them would catch on (especially when the two women both end up at Schmidt’s office party) and they always have a tendency to run longer than the material should allow them.

Personally, I’m an Elizabeth fan (Merritt Wever scoring the Emmy win for Nurse Jackie this past weekend was a highlight). She has been used to bring forth character growth in Schmidt showing that beneath the over-enunciation, his hatred for youths and tendency to give truly terrible and self-serving advice is a decent human being. Elizabeth’s character allowed for Schmidt’s insecurity, a long running gag but never really focused on, to become a highlight in the character.

They’re enjoyable, they’re sweet and a positive influence and Wever is a scene stealer, but since it doesn’t seem like the actress has too many episodes left we can make the assumption she may not be the choice.

As much as I like Cece and as much as I really love Cece and Jess’s friendship I just can’t get excited about her and Schmidt’s romantic storyline like I would have at the beginning of season two or even at the end of season one. Back when Schmidt was the saving grace of the show it was easy to accept the playful, often antagonistic interplay between the characters but now with Jess and Nick being such a strongly outlined couple and growing with the show it’s hard to accept Cece and Schmidt considering their dynamic hasn’t seemed to change.

I trust the writers so maybe I’ll be embarrassingly off the mark but I don’t know how we’re supposed to accept them especially after Schmidt has been lying to her for a considerable amount of time now.

It’s a testament to Max Greenfield that by the end of the episode I still felt bad for Schmidt.  He’s just duped Cece and Elizabeth and gotten away with it and is given a patronizing congratulations by his office nemesis and Greenfield plays the conflict on his face so well that it makes you forget for a second that he’s in the wrong.

The title for the craziest roommate, however, this week goes to Winston who after realizing that Daisy (Brenda Song) is cheating on him decides to kill her cat.

Why?

Because she broke his heart.

Winston apparently is bypassing maturity and instead is sprinting full speed ahead into insanity that at this point isn’t jarring but simply an acceptable character trait. He wants to kill the cat with a little cat noose? Sure, why not? It’s fitting, the only consistent characteristic that the showrunners have given him is his inability to think rationally when in the heat of the moment.

Luckily. he doesn’t actually commit feline murder but instead forms a bond with the cat and when Daisy comes looking for him he tells her that he’s too good for her and deserves better and also takes the cat from her.

Jess has been at her new job for a little over a week and has yet to make any friends and is feeling left out due to it and tells Nick as much. Nick for his part concocts a plan to try and help Jess out. While she’s trying to integrate herself in the teachers’ lounge, Nick bursts in to firstly offer up all the school supplies that his meager budget allowed him to buy and then saying for the three of them to drop by the bar he works at later that night saying that teachers drink for free.

It works and later we see Jess and the three cool kid teachers drinking as Nick watches. Still feeling on the outs, she asks Nick what she should do and he tells her it’s like high school with them being the popular group and her being the nerd, she needs to go with the flow, join the crowd and drink to be cool.

That she does, drinking heavily enough that she ends up shouting from the bar and dancing in a toilet.

Next morning, she awakens like so many of us have, hungover to the point of immobility, having to be coerced into moving by her three roommates standing above her and shout singing. While they all do so with gusto Schmidt reprimands Nick afterwards and tells him that he shouldn’t be allowing Jess to fall into his bad habits but should instead be protecting her.

Fearing that he may have influenced her too strongly, Nick tries to desperately stop Jess from going with her three new friends to their boss’s house to stick their butts in his jacuzzi. She doesn’t listen to him saying that this is what he suggested and to let her have fun. She tells him that she was a nerd when she was going to school and now is her chance to feel popular. She says that if they went to the same high school he would never have looked twice at her.

Flustered, he ends up letting her go after being distracted by trying to stop Winston from murdering a cat. Jake Johnson gets his first real bit of comedy gold in this episode as he runs between rooms inexplicably somehow ending up being the fixer of the group, the glue that’s magically managing to keep things together.

Not wanting Jess to get in any trouble, Nick follows Jess to her boss’s house where she has gotten stuck on one side of the fence with her colleagues on the other side. He comes to her rescue and tells her that he couldn’t let her do something so stupid alone. They end up caught by her boss but they believe that it’s because they wanted a peak at his new Jacuzzi so they go with it and end up in an uncomfortable situation which is always a treat for those two characters: anyone remember the almost threesome they had with their landlord?

The next day Jess doesn’t take up the offer to take liquid ecstasy with her co-workers and says that instead she has a date with her guy who she sees leaning against his car in the parking lot in a late 80’s John Hughes heartthrob style. He tells her that he believes in high school he would have noticed her.

Because let’s face it, it’s pretty hard believing that someone like Zooey Deschanel could ever be a stereotypical nerd.

This is why I’m still so totally behind this couple. They’re showing how Nick is growing because of the relationship, how while he still is the same guy who keeps ahold of a ripped dollar bill just in case he’s also the guy who would do anything for Jess to make her happy, to make her insecurities go away. It’s not this massive shift in his attitude but an ongoing growth which is so much more relatable. Here are two characters we’ve watched for a while now trying to navigate something new but trying to do so in a positive way that speaks for the betterment of their relationship.

Also responsible Nick Miller is oddly delightful.

I’m not going to hope for every episode to be relationship-filled—especially since this episode felt particularly heavy with it—but if the show manages to continue to showcase relationships with the amount of subtlety they’ve been mastering, I can’t wait to see where the group continues to go.