By Lanford Beard
Updated September 26, 2012 at 04:30 AM EDT
Credit: Adam Taylor/Fox

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”

The next ep, “Katie” was so named after a false identity Jess assumed. Still rudderless after losing her teaching job, she went off the grid (at Nick’s suggestion), which entailed making felt art, cooking frittatas, and drinking pink wine at 11 a.m. The wine drinking was what led her to lie when a hottie named named Sam (David Walton) entered Nick’s bar looking for his online date Katie. In an instant, Jess decided she could be Katie. She was born to be Katie!

The guy turned out to be a massive Creed fan, which apparently wasn’t enough to dissuade Jess from having first-date sex. The next morning, she roped the roomies into her web of deceit. The only natural conclusion, of course, was for Nick to end up posing as a dancer — specifically a leap specialist nicknamed Cricket. Oh, and did we see Cricket’s craft.

Once Sam left to “do a couple brunches, maybe take a nap, rehydrate,” an afterglowing Jess began to find the allure of being someone with a job too great. She wanted to keep up the Katie charade indefinitely. Schmidt warned, “Maybe you should watch a cautionary tale that I like to call The Nutty Professor,” but Jess just couldn’t quit Katie. Why? Because “she’s out the door before you even know your wallet’s gone, son!” Wouldn’t you too get lost in Katie if, as Schmidt put it, you had “raw animal magnetism dropped in [your] lap like a sack o’ taters”?

Oh, did you think one man was enough for Katie? No sirree. Just before meeting Sam, she struck up a rapport with Andy, a cute guy who delivered beer to Nick’s bar. Jess told Nick to pass along her number, and they started dirty texting. When he showed up at the loft, though, Jess discovered Nick had mistaken given her digits to Andy’s schlubby coworker (Josh Gad), who went by the name Bearclaw and always had an anal thermometer handy. As you do. He proceeded to roll around on Jess’s bed, tell her she was “the best thing that’s ever happened to [him],” and settle on the name of his sex character (Sgt. Giddyup Carothers) while Jess tried to figure out how to let him down easy.

She received a booty call from Sam and immediately abandoned Bearclaw for some pseudonymous bar bathroom humping. This being Jess (and definitely not Katie), she was almost immediately caught when Bearclaw and Andy stopped by the little boys’ room. Andy, surprised Jess picked Bearclaw over him, had said he thought they had a marry-wrothy connection, and she let out an involuntary gasp. Long story short, the jig was up, Bearclaw began ugly-crying, and Andy decided Jess was an awful person. Possible silver lining: Sam returned unexpectedly at the loft to tell not-Katie he didn’t care… well, about anything including, but not limited to, her real name or whether she’d really been to 42 Creed concerts. What he did care about was banging her six ways to Sunday. And Jess was okay with that.

Schmidt spent the episode mortifying Winston’s visiting mother (Amen‘s Anna Maria Horsford) with such gems as “The loft just became Big Momma’s House!” When he wasn’t doing that, he was mortifying himself (announcing to Winston — but really no one in particular — that some hummus was “giving [him] the toots”) and making a slew of inappropriate basketball innuendos about Winston’s WNBA player sister Alisha (Top Model‘s Keenyah Hill), who looks like somebody “stretched the ugly out of Winston.” Let’s just say Schmidt made a lot of contributions to the douchebag jar this ep. But he had other ideas for his cash, specifically regarding Alisha: “I have a lot of money I wanna deposit in your Tyra Banks!” Not taking the clue that Alisha wasn’t interested, he foolishly challenged her to a basketball game. His plans to “dribble this hard all the way to the hole” did not pan out, however, when she slammed the ball in his face (on purpose) in the first minute of play. That’ll teach almost any man to give up. Schmidt, though, I suspect that dog still has some fight in him.

During all this tomfoolery and casual sex, Nick’s future self paid a visit. There were many random exchanges (Nick is secretly writing a zombie novel, for example), but the gist was that Nick should apologize to Jess and make her an Old Fashioned. After dispensing these critical word, Future Nick returned to the cardboard box from whence he came, strapped on his tinfoil helmet, and began to make beep-boop noises to the cosmos. Yep, Future Nick was a crazy bum. Not unlike Present Nick. Same hoodie and everything! Despite that, Nick served up a pre-apology and a classic cocktail. Might this be our first New Girl mystery? If Nick’s regrettable future action is not, as he suspects, getting sloshed and peeing on all of Jess’s pretty dresses, what will it be? Keeping tuning in. Until then…

NEXT: Dotables are back and beyond containing, just like Schmidt’s junk

Notable Dotables:

Schmidt [slams down penis cast]: Soak it all in it all its foul glory! That is not just some disgusting, salty bundle of gauze. That is a symbol of who I was for the past two months — Broken Penis Guy. But if there’s anything that majoring in Marketing with a minor in Theater Studies has taught me, it’s that everybody has a brand. Nick, your brand is Gypsy Alcoholic Handyman. Winston, your brand is Winston!

Nick: Sure, I could get a girl topless, no bra, with one hollowed-out papaya, some crushed ice, and two fingers of rum. But then I grew up. Now I can make a drink that a coal miner would want — straightforward, honest, something that says, “I work in a hole.”

Winston: I’m a changed man. I mean, look at me. I’m wearing a suit.

Schmidt: Suit? Please. That’s something they put on Morgan Freeman when they let him out of Shawshank. What, did a magician die in that thing?

A smattering of reactions to Jess being unemployment…

Jess: Schmidt, stop looking at me like I’m a fat kid riding a bike.

Jess: My boobs are lovin’ this unemployment thing. They don’t have to go to boob jail everyday.

Nick: If I lost my job a week ago, I’d be deep in a porn hole by now.

Nick: I’m not normally nice to you, Jess?

Jess: No, you’re mean. Like a crazy old man. [adopts crotchety voice] “I’m Nick! I hate sunshine! When did gum get so fancy? This escalator goes too fast!”

Schmidt: Can you believe that the zoo wouldn’t let me borrow their white tiger? The nerve! I’m going to be sitting in the back of the party, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s going to be like, “Look at that idiot. Couldn’t even get a big cat!”

Nick: I’m saying you’re the nurse that I want to wake up to after having my stomach pumped. You know what I mean? It’s a different kind of hot. Still hot.

Jess: I’m going to be a great shot girl, Nick. I pour liquids into cups every single day. And on top of that? Two years of light tap and jazz!

Schmidt, on the time he tried (and failed) to cheat using fake vomit…

“You know in Student Health Services, they still call that ‘Schmidt-ing the bed.'”

Schmidt: Jess, are you cooking a frittata in a sauce pan? What is this, prison?

Schmidt: Historically speaking, I’m like catnip to tough-talking African women. [adopts “hood” voice] It’s ’cause I don’t front, y’know what I mean?

Winston: Don’t do that.

Schmidt: Aiiight.

Nick: Let’s just say, hypothetically, we live in a world where time travel exists. So, if that is the case…

Schmidt: One, Marie Antoinette; two, Cleopatra; three, young Ann-Margret; four, old Ann-Margret–

Nick: Would you shut up, you clown?

Jess: I had the best sex of my life last night. He brewed me like a fine chamomile.

Nick: Oh, so that was you? I thought that was a couple of bums fighting.

Schmidt: There comes a time in every person’s life when, for no reason whatsoever, they are irresistible to the opposite sex. For me, it was the third night of Hanukkah 1996, which I like to refer to as “The Night of the Shoshannas.”

Nick: For me, it’s any time I jet ski.

Schmidt: Jess, you don’t have the skill to juggle men.

Nick: You wear a cardigan on top of another cardigan.

Schmidt: We all know you’re not the best with doorknobs.

Nick: You can barely hold one thing in each hand.

Schmidt: You tripped the other day just standing there.

Jess: Is there a hot way of saying, “I don’t feel sexy after I’ve had a lot of cheese”?

Jess: He says, “I can’t stop thinking about what you’re going to wear tonight,” what do I say?

Cece: With a simple “Or not wear.”

Jess: Okay, “Or not wear — because sex happens naked.” Send!

Cece: Okay, I’m going to help you with that. [grabs Jess’s phone] “Just kidding! Get ready for a night you will never forget.” Okay?

Jess: “Because once you see my body, you will go brain-dead and have memory loss.” Send. [Pause] Oh no! Auto-correct changed “body” to “meatbar.”

Jess: Nick, you gave my number to the wrong guy!

Nick: Wait, which one did you want me to give your number to?

Jess: Andy!

Nick: Andy is so boring.

Jess: Bearclaw just told me a 10-minute joke about squirrels with the punchline “Eat these nuts”!

Nick: Seriously, he is so awesome.

Alisha: Schmidt, I only date basketball players.

Schmidt: Well, let’s play for it. I win, you have a drink with me. You win, I take you to brunch.

Alisha: Schmidt, I’m a professional basketball player.

Schmidt: Yeah, and I’m a guy who works in marketing and wants to give it to you. We both have jobs, get over it.

Jess: When I was a kid, I thought if I played my cards right I could grow up to be Jenny McCarthy.

Nick: Jenny McCarthy? You?

Jess: Don’t make that face. She was so beautiful with…all that swearing.

Nick: You know, I always wanted to be Kurt Loder.

Jess: Kurt Loder? He never even got to go to the Spring Break house. He was always stuck in New York talking to Pearl Jam.

Nick: He is the elder statesman of our generation!

And that’s all, Newbies. What did you think of tonight’s premiere? Everything you hoped for and more?

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Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.

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