With baseball taking over the network for the next several weeks and holidays/midseason finales barreling at us shortly thereafter, “Landline” is clearly a building-block episode. It’s an amusing—if forgettable—one, but the news that Julian Morris will recur as Jess’s new love interest for a handful of episodes has potential to continue New Girl‘s ascent from season 3’s ashes.
If you didn’t catch this episode, here’s the low-down…
Jess Meets Cute With Mr. Goes-in-You
After Coach begins an inappropriate relationship with the school nurse… and apparently Angela Kinsey’s Rose (Jess: “Who are you? Blanche from Golden Girls?”), Principal Foster charge Jess with enforcing non-fraternization rules at the school. Unfortunately, Jess runs across a “distractingly handsome” challenge in the form of her replacement science teacher, a swoon-worthy Brit named Ryan Geauxinue (Once Upon a Time‘s Morris, whose character’s last name is titter-baitingly pronounced Goes-in-You).
Jess’s attempts to prove herself go from bad to worse when she has to lead a staff training session on professional boundaries. Coach impishly insists that the new guy should join Jess for some hands-on learning, wherein “Mr. G” demonstrates how a shoulder massage is not appropriate colleague contact. Well, if loving Ryan’s gentle touch is wrong… Jess wants wants it all up in her “wolf patch” (whatever that is). Jess had already instructed the teachers to use three words—”Shut it down!”—in these situations. I’ll see those three words and raise her four more: Slapped in the crotch. Yep, Jess gets so flustered that the sweeping motion she’s devised to accompany her catchphrase lands squarely in Ryan’s junk.
Jess ultimately repeals the non-fraternization policy much to the pleasure of Coach, who proudly calls his nethers Samuel L. Jackson (“because they’re in everything”). Principal Foster even agrees that the policy was foolish and that people should be able to “follow their urges”… but only if they are employed at the same level, which Jess and Ryan are not. That last mandate was a real slap in the crotch for Jess, especially since it seemed like Ryan was going to ask her out just moments before Foster told her to “lock up that lobster.”
Nick Miller: World’s Best Secretary
Elsewhere, when a nearby construction site hampers the loftmates’ cell reception, Jess proposes they get a landline. Once they overcome the shear wonder of 1980s technology (Coach: “Anybody could call. It could be Tanya from sixth grade!”), Nick escalates quickly from de facto message taker (since he’s home during the day) to self-appointed loft secretary. First step: engaging Schmidt and Winston in three-way phone calls, final step: ordering a custom secretary headset.
Nick’s mania is actually a symptom of his roommates’ busy lives and his growing feeling that he’s been cut out. In order to feel connected one again, he began a spree of meddling, including a gleeful—but absurdly fumbled—spoiler alert pun when Schmidt gets a quote for a spoiler (of the car variety) and his torpedoing of a feature story in Business, Man magazine on Schmidt, who’d he’d “gotten some heat off of the sponge account.” The latter is saved when Winston displays his shockingly smooth phone-side manner (cue the junior high-era Nick-and-Winston flashback!) by pretending to be Schmidt in an impromptu phone interview, thereby getting Schmidt dubbed “The Bad Boy of Marketing.” Less successfully, Nick’s intervention in Winston’s relationship with a girl named Judy results in a break-up and Judy standing outside the apartment and lifting a boombox skyward that plays “Levon.” To be fair, Winston did predict Judy might “do something crazy” because “that bitch a Leo.”
Schmidt-iest Lines of the Night
To a catalog customer service employee: “The scarf has been back-ordered a month, meanwhile the hat is just sitting here!”
“I’m just excited to have a new number—home, work, and cell. Damn I’m reachable! I’m definitely going to mention that in my profile in Business, Man magazine.”
Responding to Cece’s monotone voicemail recording: “Oh my God, too sexy! I’m on fire right now. This is a home, we’re not selling lubricant! Will you not stop until the whole world is aroused?”
What he does after listening to Cece’s aforementioned voicemail greeting, said with head hanging low: “And then I touch my peen.”
After it appears his magazine profile has fallen through: “I’m as mad as a dad in traffic!”
“Did you know my name is an acronym? Some Can Have Money, I Desire Thoughtfulness. Schmidt don’t quit!” (Note: This was actually Winston during the Business, Man interview, but boy did he nail that Schmidt impostor gig.)
While I’m excited about the possibilities of a substantive new relationship for Jess, this latest episode does beg the question: Is it possible for both Jess and Nick to have compelling storylines in the wake of their break-up? The writers have been hurting for Nick-related storylines, and they seem to be devolving him to the quirk-addled manchild of early season 1. It would almost be acceptable if we hadn’t seen him as a (mostly) fully formed person. But we have. And, like the undead characters of Z…Is for Zombie, we can’t go back to how things were. If Jess is all loved up, where does that leave Nick? We’ll have to wait to find out when New Girl returns after the World Series on Nov. 4.
UPDATE: Read Morris’ tease about Jess and Ryan’s first kiss.