Raise your glasses and take off your penis casts, Newbies! Jess and her band of misfit boys are back! Last night’s double barrel premiere saw all the highs and lows of a quirky, button-nosed rollercoaster, from fire dancing to thwarted bathroom sex. Now to it!
The first ep, “Re-launch” rightly centered on Schmidt’s genitalia — old and unimproved, but no longer broken! Upon getting his cast removed, he rushed to host a “re-branding event,” and the theme would be “Danger” (perhaps inadvisable considering the party was about his penis). Nonetheless, it was on, and he planned to invite all the usual suspects — his urologist, badminton partner, and financial planner, plus Philip Seymour Hoffman, the ladies from Lululemon, “a guy who once wrote for a little show called Crank Yankers,” and, oh yeah, Cece. (More on that later.)
But amidst this celebration, there was some bad news: Jess was laid off, despite spending the summer tutoring a kid named Vaj Rijuv and not laughing once (not once!). While fielding the guys’ creepy sympathy faces, she seriously entertained the idea of allowing a hospital to infect her with dengue fever for a quick buck but ultimately appointed herself Schmidt’s party planner, largely based on her complete availability and her ability to make “any kind of balloon animal — as long as it’s a worm… or a snake.” She was quickly shut down, though Schmidt would offer her the chance to be his second-string shot girl. This is where Nick came in to disqualify Jess for not having “that specific hotness that shames men into spending $9 on a $2 shot.”
At Nick’s challenge, Jess made a mission of becoming the hottest shot girl in the world (or at least Nick’s bar). This notion instantly struck fear into Schmidt’s heart — and rightly. She adopted a stripper name of Ivy and affected a “sexy” whisper voice that could have convinced most medical professionals she was suffering from an obstructed airway. Mostly, though, she just looked like the bastard lovechild of a 1930s cigar girl and Columbia from Rocky Horror. Apparently the teeny tiny silver top hat she got as a layoff consolation gift qualified as “hot.” (For his part, Nick likened her outfit to a turn-of-the-century bathing costume.)
Meanwhile, the “26-year-old” first-string shot girl Casey (Parker Posey) came with a long list of demands (“I don’t work with amateurs. I don’t split tips. If things get a little freaky in here, I’m out the door because I’m a little diabetic, and I don’t need a hassle. And also, I do accept payment in the form of whip-its — because I’ve got a Ph.D.”) She was, of course, way better than Jess at shot girl-ing, for a variety of reasons, not least of which because Jess took to asking people questions while pouring liquor down their gullets.
Posey’s role was sort of a head-scratcher. Maybe she’s being tested as a temporary (albeit missing-half-her-brain) love interest for Schmidt? You see, Schmidt and Cece are still very much broken up, with no signs of reuniting (their continued charming rapport notwithstanding). You see, Cece found a new fellow named Robbie who at first blush was not only the anti-Schmidt but also the anti-any-girl-would-want this. Physically? Schmidt referred to him as “the one shaped like the Liberty Bell.” Financially? Schmidt called him “the commoner.” Though he did speculate that Robbie must be “workin’ with a real piece of pipe”… because why else would Cece date him? It certainly wasn’t the dance moves or the conversational verve. Despite Robbie’s drip-itude and Schmidt’s truly epic failure of a fire-spinning routine (in khakis!), it was Robbie — not Schmidt — who left the party with Cece. And so back to Ms. Posey. Perhaps she’ll yet be on the receiving end of some Schmidt cheese metaphors? Or perhaps she was just called in to be Parker Posey for a little bit. That remains to be seen.
What is clear is that Jess is not cut out for the high-stakes life of a shot girl. Just when she really got into the spirit of things and executed a hilariously Jess-y jazz-hand-and-kickline-punctuated bar dance to LMFAO’s “Put Your Ass to Work,” Jess realized she didn’t have enough emotional distance from her teaching career to start her next chapter, and Nick gave a great tough love pep talk (even if the shots about her “plywood ass” went too far). In related news, I can officially confirm that their chemistry is still sizzling. I did appreciate that the season started with them firmly as friends so as not to force the development of their relationship too quickly, but must we have been taunted with no less than three almost-kiss moments?
Final mini-arc from “Relaunch”: Winston gets “naughty” — and very Randy Watson– esque — when he indulges in Nick’s specialty fruit cocktails. We’re talking “Groove Is in the Heart”-singing naughty. Then again, Nick is that kind of naughty while soberly taking his morning, so….
NEXT: “Katie knows how the sausage gets made”