Two episodes now have been dedicated to the introduction of Jess’s sister Abby, and I still am not sold.
To try and not simply re-hash what I’ve already said about this entire storyline already, I have no problems with Linda Cardellini. Despite having never seen Freaks and Geeks, I can see the appeal. She’s immensely charming and has an enthusiasm that energizes the scenes she’s in. That doesn’t change the fact that in the two episodes that the writing team has tried to sell her to us they’ve done nothing to break the archetype she embodies. In this week’s episode we’ve learned that she likes throwing knives, doing the opposite of what she’s asked to do and likes adventurous sex.
Wouldn’t be anything to call issue with if it wasn’t so blatantly obvious that it’s all set up in a calculated manner to try and set the two sisters apart.
Luckily, there were some great bits to make up for the A storyline—most of which relied on the heavy comedic lifting that Lamorne Morris was doing.
But first for some A-plot focus.
Abby announces that she thinks she should live in the loft with them and Jess, understandably, thinks this is a very bad idea. She and Nick plot on how to make it so she decides not to stay. Jess tells Nick that she needs him to distract her for a couple of hours so her and Cece can go and make plans on how to get rid of Abby.
Nick should obviously never be in charge of anything that involves lying, because he’s terrible at it.
He brings Abby to a car lot as Cece and Jess find an apartment in a safe area for her to live in and Abby quickly catches on to the fact that Nick is babysitting her. She demands that he tell her what’s going on and when he doesn’t she climbs onto an expensive looking car and throws a tantrum. She says that she’ll only get down if he tells her what’s going on and under the threat that she’s going to jump on the hood of the car he fesses up about what Jess is up to.
The revelation does nothing to get her down so Nick calls Schmidt who says he knows how to deal with crazy women.
“Do you know what this is, Nick? This is nonsense.”
Schmidt solves the problem by offering Abby to go get them some tacos which magically works. Nick thinks things are solved until he walks in on Schmidt and Abby with the former tied up on the table with an apple in his mouth and the latter melting chocolate.
Nick is disgusted and says that the two of them can’t sleep together because Jess will kill him.
That doesn’t stop them and Nick is left to ward off Jess with some more lies as she tells him about the wonderful apartment she found. She tells Nick that the plan is for them to eat dinner, get Abby a little buzzed and make her think that finding an apartment was all her idea.
Of course this doesn’t work either. Abby brings Schmidt over to mess with Nick and when Nick tells Abby to stop touching Schmidt she continues until some definitely not suitable action for a 9:00 pm show on Fox goes on below the table. Got to love the show for pushing its boundaries.
Jess asks what’s going on and Nick admits to all of it and says that if he hadn’t been forced to lie none of this would have happened. Abby tries to play the wounded sister card but Jess—in her best scene of the night—tells her that of course she doesn’t want her to live with her, that yes she tries to fix people because she likes trying to be a good person but Abby is beyond fixing so she doesn’t want her to mess up what she has going on in her life.
Abby accepts it but throws a wrench in the plan by saying she’ll just live with Schmidt instead, promising him a lot of sex to sweeten the deal.
On the way out Schmidt asks for Jess’s glasses so that he and Abby can role play as her and Nick which gets shut down and makes the idea of Schmidt sleeping with Jess’s sister even stranger.
It had it’s amusing moments—especially anything involving Schmidt who doesn’t realize what he’s gotten himself into—but it seemed like a filler storyline more than anything else.
Plot B focused in on Winston after Abby raddled his nerves about his exam scores for getting in the LAPD Police training
Despite the fact that Winston undoubtedly feels integrated into the cast and has a wonderful rapport with whoever he’s sharing the screen with, we’ve still yet to get any form of straight characterization from him. In season one he was a replacement, in season two he was an onlooker and in season three he is unhinged: there’s been no consistency until these past few episodes where his quirks were so deeply embedded in his personality that we didn’t question it.
But it wasn’t until the recent storyline about him wanting to be a police officer, and most noticeably in this week’s episode, that you could notice an active attempt at giving him a storyline. They succeeded. They managed to combine a substantial storyline and his goofy behavior.
Winston tells Abby that he chokes easily and he decides that the moment isn’t right to check his scores so instead he goes to badger Nick and Jess who send him away which is how he ends up at the gym where Coach works. Coach thinks he’ll be able to get rid of him too but Winston says he bought his time as a personal trainer so he’s stuck.
These two—as showcased in the Prince episode—work well together although I’m still not used to seeing Damon Wayans Jr. play the straight man character. Coach, annoyed, begrudgingly trains Winston, all the while knowing that this is just his way of avoiding his results. After Winston ruins his chances with a girl at the gym, Coach gets fed up and grabs Winston’s phone to check his results for him.
He learns that a. Winston doesn’t have a lock on his phone and b. Winston failed the exam.
And it’s actually kind of sad. For a larger-than-life character it wouldn’t be surprising for his failures to be used as broad comedic moments but rather we’re given a more authentic reaction as Winston just kind of walks away, shamefaced. Even Coach seems bewildered when delivering the news.
They go to a café where Winston mopes about his lost prospects and about how he’s 31 years old and still doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life (a statement that both struck panic and ease in this 22 year-old who has no idea what she’s doing…). Coach tells him he just needs to get out of his head about it. Winston puts everything on the line when he’s trying to achieve anything, building it up to the biggest event of that moment, the one that could make him or break him. Coach tells Winston he needs to relax and get an application for the restaurant that they’re in.
Winston immediately starts piling on the pressure, talking about how badly he really needs this job and how it’s probably a desperate situation.
The interview goes no better. Winston is awkward and doesn’t know how to answer questions even with Coach feeding him answers behind his back. He comes to find out that he didn’t even fill out the back of the application. This is a yet another failure for the character but it brings upon the realization that maybe he did the same thing on his police academy exam—didn’t check to see if there was a back.
He says he’s careless, not stupid.
Anyone else wondering how on earth he ever managed to land a job in the first place?
Winston is hit with another blow once at the station when the officer tells him the test is done on computers—something you’d assume a person would take note of while taking their test. It looks like Winston’s ready to throw it all away before Coach gives him the best type of pep talk he could give. He tells Winston that he has already failed so spectacularly that he has hit his rock bottom which means he only can go up from here. He tells him to take the test again so Winston signs up for the one the following day.
Finally a character that’s endured two and a half seasons of haphazardly thrown-together storylines gets one that makes sense and is occurring over multiple episodes.
This week’s episode was certainly a step up from “Sister” due to the abundance of laughs provided by many of the side characters but the storyline is still a disservice to both of the females involved in the storyline. Zooey Deschanel is being sidelined on her own show and Cardellini, as I mentioned before, could use her charm for more than what’s being written for her.
Still a bit of a letdown, but one with a lot of hilarity.