By Lanford Beard
November 28, 2012 at 06:09 AM EST
Greg Gayne/Fox

New Girl is back, y’all. It wasn’t just an episode, it was an epic-sode. I know it’s been a good night when there are too many hilarious potential recap titles. “The Downstairs Girl-Cookie” was an early favorite, as was “The Vagina Helen Mirren.” Then came “Give My Nipples a Purpose!” and “The Sound of An Empty Uterus.” After that, “Vagenius,” “Not a Finisher,” and “Procrastination at the Zoo,” as well as the more culturally inclined “Becoming Ernest Hemingway” and “Losing Nemo,” plus an title by extrapolation “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” which emerged in the episode’s final minutes. But the above Schmidt-ism won out for its universality. Fair warning: Dotables will be considerable this week.

And why do I say the show’s “back”? Well, it’s not that the last couple of episodes have been bad, per se, but they were definitely cresting at a 7.5 or so on the comedy scale. (This show typically hums along at a 9 or 10.) With the return of a Jess who feels like she needs to really do something (other than be adorable), not to mention the payoff of all Nick’s inane shout-outs to his zombie novel and the prominence of Schmidt’s sexual shenanigans (with 100 percent more goggles, a highlights-of-India worthy bit of improv by Max Greenfield, and, heck, a little poignancy), I dare say last night was a — if not the — series high.

The night began with news that Jess’s lesbian gynecologist friend Sadie (June Diane Raphael) and her wife Melissa were expecting a baby. All the ovary chatter made Jess worry she was losing daylight, reproductively speaking. It didn’t help that Sadie rattled off all sorts of panic-inducing stats about how a woman can lose up to 90 percent of her eggs by age 30. (I watched a recent episode of Ice Loves Coco that put it closer to 70 percent, but who’s counting?) Jess was legit freaking out: “What if all that’s left are the weird eggs? I can feel them. They’re turning. They watched their brothers and sisters die, and now they want to be birthed. I need to be fertilized! … I need to give my nipples a purpose!” She even entertained her roommates’ arguments (in full in Dotables) as to why they’d each be the best baby daddy. For her part, Cece was not at all troubled by this news, insisting, “Babies wreck you, Jess. They literally eat your body.” That Twilight-esque comment makes me think she should join Nick in a Z Is for Zombie brainstorm.

Speaking of which, Nick was also affected by Sadie’s news — that and seeing Winston at new big-shot overnight job (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron). Feeling directionless, he vowed to finish his zombie novel. Winston questioned his commitment, which cued up a flashback so inconsequential I’ve begun to think the writers only show flashbacks of Nick so they can put Jake Johnson in a variety of horrible wigs and face merkins. But back to Nick and his zombie tome! Crushed by writer’s block, he tried to psych himself up by “becoming Ernest Hemingway.” Among other things, this involved forcing Winston — who was himself half-a-zombie due to his “adjusted sleep schedule” of roughly 13 minutes — to visit the zoo. Also? Copious drinking, a.k.a. “writer’s fuel.”

NEXT: Downton Newbie!

Returning to Jess. She’d submitted her body to a battery of tests and set about ridding the loft of everything detrimental to baby-making. Namely, the microwave (only semi-crazy) and Nick’s “ketchup collection” (certifiably wackadoo — that he has one and also that she feared its toxicity). After that momentary diversion, she was back at Sadie’s office with Cece, who’d taken the test in solidarity. Happily, Sadie reported that Jess was in excellent reproductive health, prompting Jess to sing like Beef from Phantom of the Paradise, “I’m the egg queen. I’m queen of the eggs!”

On the other hand, Cece’s prognosis wasn’t so great. Jess offered to distract her by spending the afternoon acting like dudes: “Let’s care about stupid things — talk about sharks and sci-fi movies and making everything wireless.” But Cece isn’t as superficial as her model friends (side note: bring back Nadia!), so she continued to brood. She even wondered, “What am I going to tell Robbie?” I choose to take that less as an indication that she wants to marry and have kids with Robbie so much as that she imagines Robbie wants to marry and have kids with her. Because, obvs, it’s Schmidt. It’s gotta be Schmidt. (More on that later…)

While Jess had a heart-to-heart with a 43-year-old rhino named Rhonda (“Keepin’ it tight, girl!” / “I have a lot of eggs; unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of sausage”), Winston lost his patience and told sloppy-drunk Nick, “You’re not a finisher. That’s why you didn’t finish law school. The same reason why you’re only three episodes into Downton Abbey.” (Nick: “There’s just too many characters!”) But apparently, Winston’s criticism was exactly what Nick needed to get moving. Flash forward, when he woke up Winston to proudly proclaim, “I finished my novel. I stayed up for 14 straight hours! I even peed into water bottles.” These absurd boasts aside — not to mention the fact that his novel looked, generously speaking, about half the length of a short screenplay — the pièce de résistance may have come via Nick’s yearbook-style dedication: “To Winston, Have a nice summer. Hope to see you again,” and his pre-emptory caveat: “I just want to tell you right now, the black guy dies early. His name’s William. But don’t take offense, it’s a staple of the genre.” To be continued…

NEXT: Schmidt learns a thing or two about lady parts

Elsewhere, Schmidt was still entangled in his contractual-and-consensual S&M relationship with his boss Emma (Carla Gugino). Then again, unless space travel metaphors are part of the new BDSM catalog, most of the S consisted of her making hurtful comments post-coitus about his sexual skillz. (Momentary digression: Did anyone else see the super-rugged and -hot picture of Schmidt behind his bed? Just me?) Taking the “world-shattering” critiques in stride, Schmidt sought out a professional opinion. No, this did not turn into The Schmessions. He booked an appointment with Sadie to make sure he was doing it right, so to speak. As he regaled her with a step-by-step description of his technique (full transcript of Max Greenfield’s masterful delivery in Dotables), she became so titillated she had to qualify, “It’s the baby hormones. They are not as gay as me.”

Realizing he wasn’t the problem, Schmidt indulged Emma’s “most secret fantasy,”  which involved a lot of body bedazzling and feathers (see why in Dotables). But that, too, was a bust. Silver lining: They shared a simultaneous… catharsis. Emma realized she needed to have feelings for her sexual partner. Schmidt learned he had had real feelings for Cece — he was in love with her. (Though, if that wasn’t already obvious to him, then he’s more of a douchebag then I gave him credit for.) Their parting was a genuinely touching moment as he gave her a pep talk and sent her back out into the dating world. Of course he did ask first, “How am I going to get the feathers off?” Emma: “No idea.”

Wrapping it all up, while Winston read Z Is for Zombie, the other roommates gathered in Nick’s room — starting with an adorable moment when Jess dropped in and Nick said, “I knew you’d choose me to get you pregnant.” Jess: “Yep. Let’s go” as she lunged in. Of course, they both bounced back at the last moment, laughing. (At us? For our foolish hope? Damn you, New Girl, you tease!) Then Schmidt arrived to bemoan the “news” that he was/is in love with Cece. (“I can’t believe I have to have feelings to have good sex! I was hoping I’d be dead before this happened.”) Before the roommates could solve this real-life love pickle, Winston emerged. He was aghast at Nick’s truly terrible novel — a novel, by the way, that included a word search with no words — not least of which for the 38 different misspellings of the word rhythm. Regardless, Winston was proud that Nick had finished something. So was Schmidt, who urged Schmidt to “read it out loud.” Jess joined in on the chant, and Nick said under his breath, “This… might be humiliating.” Which brings us to…

NEXT: Nick’s novel

Notable dotables…

Nick: So he’s saying everything up this point has been foreplay? Are you kidding me? That’s ridiculous! What are you going to do for 20 minutes? Boooring! Yaaaaawn! Amirite, ladies?

Jess: Come on, I spent $6 on this wine!

Melissa: Did you know there’s a test you can take that tells you how many beans you’ve got left in your bean sack?

Sadie: Ovaries. It estimates, basically, how many childbearing years you have left.

Melissa: Get this — I’m 32, but my eggs are 48, and my vagina is 97.

Nick: I am so uncomfortable.

Sadie: It gets better with age. It’s like the vagina Helen Mirren.

Nick: Oh boy!

Sadie: I’ve got big plans for the centennial…

Schmidt: Sadie, before you leave, can I ask you a few questions?

Sadie: I know where this is going…

Schmidt: You are a gynecologist and a lesbian, which makes you… well, a vagenius.

Jess: Jar!

Sadie: I know my way around a Grizzly Adams.

Jess: You, too? Jar.

Schmidt: As an adult male, I would like to ask you a few questions about… the downstairs girl-cookie.

Jess: Jars! Jars! All around jars!

Sadie: This is my personal time right now, but you can make an appointment at my office, pay your $40 copay, and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Schmidt: Yes! I’m in! Please. Would I have to put my legs up in the stirrups?

Sadie: Why would you?

Schmidt: I’m asking more so out of curiosity than fear. Hashtag: Excitement!

Cece: Are you done?

Reasons Jess fears she might not be ready (or equipped) for motherhood…

“Tonight, I used a bread roll to wipe the butter off of my face, then I ate the bread roll — so I essentially used my face as a butter knife.”

“Once, at a senior graduation party, I sat in a very hot Jacuzzi for 12 hours. Is there any chance that I sunny-side-upped my eggs?”

“Between the years of 1998 and 2005, I used a lot of self tanner. Like a lot.”

“I once fell on a pommel horse.”

Jess: Microwaves zap things!

Nick: It’s what makes burritos delicious!

Jess: You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?

Nick: You’ve put me in a tough spot.

Jess: Guess what I’m worried about. This sound! [slaps belly] You know what that sound is? It’s the sound of an empty uterus. I don’t need test to tell me that it is The Grapes of Wrath in there. It is 1930s Dust Bowl, Schmidt. And they’re all walking with limps.

Nick: I can top that easily. I’m having a hard time with my zombie novel.

Jess: Are you literally comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?

Nick: I’m a writer, Jess. We create life!

Jess: Ugh! Being a woman sucks!

Nick: Preaching to the choir — women are the worst!

Jess: Who’s going to lay a flag down on this sweet, sweet continent?

Schmidt: I’ll man up. But I must warn you, Jess — I don’t have sperms, I have tadpoles. Of the gods. That’s right. And I’m going to give ’em to you. You can have ’em all, for all I care. That’s how much I love you. I feel your pain in this situation. I want you to have babies. Take my sperms.

Winston: No. It should be me, Jess. With your big, beautiful blue eyes and my Blair Underwood-like skin, we’d have the most beautiful baby the world has ever seen.

Schmidt: He’s not wrong. It could get into any school it wants.

Jess: To be clear, I haven’t asked any of you to impregnate me. I think it’s important that that’s been said.

Nick: Good. Because it’s definitely not me.

Jess: It’s definitely not you.

Nick: I would love that little baby with all my heart. Even if I did show it by picking him up from school in my underwear and hitting on the crossing guard.

Nick: You boys are right. I gotta be more like Hemingway.

Jess: I just lost another one of my eggs while you were comparing yourself to the most famous writer of all time.

Nick: Maybe the reason I have writer’s block is I’ve been living too casual with you clowns. I need real-life adventure — like Ernest Hemingway had at my age. Man, I gotta run with the bulls, I gotta kill a man with my bare hands after making sweet love to him, and then sleep on the warm belly of his horse. I gotta eat my way out of a sandwich house…

Winston: How much do you know about Hemingway?

Nick: Not a lot. But I’m gonna learn!

Schmidt on female pleasure [Ed. note: Find a video. Seriously]…

“I call that ‘Losing Nemo.’ That asymmetry is crucial. Because then what I’ll do is, I’ll go outside… get the paper… then shake the neighbor’s hand. Then what I’ll do is, I’ll tie a bow on it, because it’s birthday time… and get on stage and collect my Oscar and say ‘Thank you to the people… thank you to the people!’ then get back down off stage and get everybody into the sharing circle. Right down there into the sharing circle. And then [slaps desk] spike the volleyball! Then what I like to do is, I like to arrive at the bridge and meet the troll and then answer his riddles three. Then what we’re doing is we’re dancing. We’re just going dance, and dance for a while. We’re dancin’ ’til you can’t dance anymore. Dancin’ ’til you can dance. Any. More. And then everybody. Gets. Churro.”

Schmidt: I played out your most secret fantasy — French maid handyman does Studio 54 busboy. I thought I killed it!

Emma: I know. It’s disappointing. And I picked you at work because I heard you were amazing in bed.

Schmidt: No, no, no. I am. I know that I am. I have it on good authority from my model ex-girlfriend and an actual lesbian gynecologist that I know exactly what I’m doing.

Nick: Who wins? Me versus gorilla — go!

Jess: Gorilla.

Nick: No, but in a contest.

Jess: Gorilla.

Nick: No, but in a competition.

Jess: Uh… gorilla.

Nick: You don’t get it.

Cece: Okay, you’re just drunk at the zoo right now…

Nick: Let’s go look at snakes!

The opening lines of Z is for Zombie, as read by Winston:

No one in the sleepy mountain town of Rithem City knew what the meteor meant, but the one thing Mike Jr. did have was a whole lot of rittem.

Note: My DVR switched over from New Girl to The Mindy Project so I lost some bits until…

“…bit me in the face!” Mike Jr. said to his dad Mike Sr., who sucks.

Nick: Yeah, Mike Sr. sucks! It’s a major theme throughout this.

And Mike Sr. sucks a whole bunch, much more than his neighbor Rollo.

Schmidt: Never stop reading this!

Zombie zoo, zombie zoo, zombie zoo, zombie zoo. Who let them zombies out that damn zombie zoo? Uh oh, watch your back, Laura!

Winston: I guess Laura’s another character that he introduces, but… that’s it.

Read more:

‘New Girl’: The Parent Trap-tastrophe

‘New Girl’: Fifty Shades of Schmidt

‘New Girl’: Zombie Woody Allen

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