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'New Girl' recap: 'Parking Spot' (season 2, episode 17)

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Patrick McElhenney/FOX

So… that Jess-Nick weirdness? That residue of kiss-related awkwardness? Not. Going. Anywhere. Though they seemed mostly back to normal at the end of the last ep, it’s clear this problem will not resolve itself so easily. They’re going to have to face it head-on — a reality they continue to admit and then panic moonwalk away from. As such, this week’s installment was bookended by oodles of sexual tension. We’ve got a handful of episodes before the finale, Newbies, so nothing is going to happen quickly, and we’re indefinite stuck in this sexual perdition — the No-Nail Zone, as it were. Just as well, as there were much bigger fish to fry last night — at least in Schmidt’s head…

While Jess and Nick were brushing their teeth, exchanging uncomfortable banter about their toooootally normal friendship, Schmidt came barreling in with a big announcement: He’d found a parking free spot in their building! “I had just finished rinsing out the dumpster, and while I was buffing the backside, I found this,” he beamed. So thrilled was he, in fact, that he slapped a towel rack straight off the wall (a rack holding a damp towel, one can only hope) sharing the news. Thus was set in motion an episode-long battle over that sweet slab o’ concrete.

Each of them had a reason why he or she deserved the spot (Schmidt = financial stability card, Jess = lady card, Winston = race card, Nick = lazy drunk card). Jess particularly wanted to be rid of a denture-throwing bum named Outside Dave who was using her hood as a futon and who didn’t respond to her attempts at baked-goods bribery. When Winston had to abandon the negotiations (more on that later), that left a three-way stand-off between Nick, Jess, and Schmidt. Turns out lazy drunks aren’t much for fighting, so Nick pretty much immediately crumbled. Ironically, this made him more powerful than before — now he was the swing vote, The Decider.

Jess cast the opening gambit and knocked on Nick’s door in nothing but black stockings and… one of Nick’s hoodies? “You want to know what I’m wearing underneath this shirt?” she purred. “An invisible shirt.” With the hoodie draped Flashdance-style over her bare shoulder, she began to chew on the “crunchy” drawstring. SEXY! Okay… not so much. But pretty damn funny. Credit to her for knowing what Nick would respond to. However, I’m not entirely sure the sex shtick was either A.) authentic to Jess or B.) an appropriate move considering the post-kiss tension still alienating them. A little tone deaf, no?

Nonetheless, that’s the way Jess went. And it worked — but mainly because Nick was far too uncomfortable (and, again, lazy) to deny her. She genuinely appreciated his “chivalrous” behavior. He invited her in for a hug, but her defense mechanisms kicked in, and she clamped his nipples, triggering a high-pitched howl from Nick. Sing it with me now, “That’s what friends are for!”

Not knowing he’d lost the parking spot already, Schmidt brought Nick a frosty mug of Heisler. He thanked his old buddy in advance for the spot. After a slow spit take from Nick (credit to Jake Johnson on the physical comedy), he told Schmidt he’d give the spot to Jess. She happened to come up in the room, and their overly cordial relationship signaled to Schmidt that something was up. “You think I can’t smell it?” he asked. “You think I can’t hear it? The stench of filth and lust is all over this room” (pronounced rim) “It smells like frickin’ Tijuana!” Jess tried to play it cool, but Nick collapsed under the accusations. They admitted they’d kissed. Schmidt shot them a death stare and said with extra acid in his voice, “Mazel tov to both of you.” Nick: “I don’t know what ‘mazel tov’ means, but it doesn’t sound good.”

They followed Schmidt to his room, where he shouted, “Nick, you’re my best friend! You should have told me. And, Jess, what do you think? Mono is just some sort of joke?” They assured him nothing had changed, but one extremely awkward hug and Jess’s new parking space implied otherwise. Jess finally admitted she “shook what the good people of Oregon gave [her]” to get the spot. Schmidt pulled out the big guns, saying archly, “Let me tell you something, Nicholas Miller: Had Winston kissed me, you were the first person I would have told!” And so Nick predictably flipped his decision: “I can’t have people thinking my decision wasn’t above-board. This city can’t handle another scandal!” Schmidt grinned evilly, which Jess tried to call out only to have him turn it off every time Nick looked at him. Folding under all this pressure and manipulation, Nick admitted that didn’t feel like The Decider anymore. Now he was merely The Suggester, and he wasn’t having fun anymore. He stormed off, leaving Schmidt to gloat, “Give my regards to Outside Dave.” Jess tried to physically intimidate him with nipple twisters, but apparently Schmidt is impervious to such guerilla warfare tactics — an offshoot of his 50 Shades of Grey-esque office romance, no doubt.

NEXT: Schmidt gets real