By Lanford Beard
Updated December 12, 2012 at 06:23 AM EST
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Greg Gayne/Fox
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Last episode before the new year, Newbies! Kinda makes me sad…. In any case, Winston served as the Greek chorus tonight — as well as Jess’s excuse to avoid happiness (or at least regular hook-ups). He also served up one of my few laugh-out-loud moments of the night. If his penchant for singing along to Wicked has shown us anything, it’s that Winston has a flair for the theatrical. In that respect, tonight was a smash. More on that later…

Back-tracking to Jess’s avoidance of an actual relationship, I’m of two minds: Of course the shipper in me thinks it’s all a time-killer until Nick is done with the stripper whose name I can’t be bothered to remember (Olivia Munn). On the flip side, the feminist in me thinks, Shouldn’t she get a little some-some while she’s waiting? Dilemmas, Newbies! While you ponder them, let’s get started.

Just to get it out of the way, Schmidt spent pretty much the entire episode being a big douche to Cece. And not in a funny, jar-worthy way. It was sad. I don’t want to think about it.

Otherwise, the night found the roommates and Cece traveling to a number of parties (including one featuring “a really respected DJ [who] was also an actor on Boy Meets World“). Every party Jess visited, she ran across her former hook-up buddy Sam (David Walton), to whom she’d admitted her feelings and by whom she’d been unceremoniously rejected. Only, Sam had rethought things and now wanted a relationship with Jess. Instead of feeling validated, she freaked. Cue an admirable bit of physical comedy by Zooey Deschanel in which she flitted about, crashing into floor-to-ceiling windows and squeaking, “I feel like a bird. Are none of these doors?!”

That Sam wasn’t turned off by her sheer ridiculousness should have been a sign that he’d be a keeper. Instead, Jess lied she’d fallen in love with Winston. It’s worth noting that Winston couldn’t hear her because a cranberry had become lodged in his ear (don’t ask). Thus ensued all sort of innuendos about how their relationship “just got stuck up there so far so quickly” and how “it can get a little rough.” Only once Sam removed the cranberry — and revealed to Winston, “You’re the only one I feel threatened by, not like that metrosexual sweatshirt guy over there. I would trade places with you in a heartbeat… except for the mustache”) — did Winston realize what Jess had done. Instead of calling her out, he launched into a Tony-worthy break-up spectacle, telling her, “I am not just the vehicle you get to ride to Pleasure Town. Be gone, honky!” [Throwing a drink on Jess’s coat] “Say goodbye to paradise, honey!”

Of course Sam instantly saw through Winston’s emotional fireworks. He tried to kiss and make up with Jess, but she put more emphasis on the “kiss” than the “make up” and refused to believe he wanted anything more than sex. To be continued…

NEXT: You sleigh me…

Meanwhile, Nick and his stripper girlfriend hadn’t had sex yet. Trying to gloss over his prudishness, he told her he “was born on the wrong side of the tracks” and “had tetanus thrice in [his] life,” but, despite all that bad-assery, he ran from her gingerbread man cookie emblazoned with the words, “Let’s have sex.” At the night’s second party, he decided to go for it, making awkward innuendos in order to make it… in a sleigh. Well, almost. They broke the sleigh pre-copulation, prompting Nick to flee, pants-less, to the nearest swath of fabric and stumble around destroying all the reindeer in his path. Shortly thereafter he basically dismissed her for being a stripper — only to immediately realize the error of his way (“Nick Miller, turning lemonade into lemons since 1981”).

They headed to Winston’s office party, where Nick summoned his DJ persona, Dr. Gavin Daytona, to cheer up-slash-advise Jess. (Most sweetly: “I think you’re the kind of girl a guy would come back for.”) She paid him back, as true roommates do, by calling him a chicken and telling him he’d do well to have someone fearless like Angie (that’s her name! and I can guarantee you I won’t remember it come January). As luck would have it, Angie showed up at the party. So Nick admitted (via radio station PA system, in front of the whole party) that he’d screwed up and was afraid to put himself out there like she did.

Then gave her the hard sell: “I’m very poor — having a checking account would be an honor. I’m a writer — I’ve written a zombie book. It’s terrible. I’m a slow runner. I’m obsessed with karate.” He called her scary and thanked her for deigning to go out with him, then told Winston to turn up the tunes so he could “get sexy” to a sub-Bobby Helms level version of “Deck the Halls.” This involved a lap dance that should be on YouTube any minute now. (Let’s just say I didn’t know asses could shimmy.) Angie was happy to show Nick how a reallap dance went… until Schmidt stepped in. Somewhere between thrusts, undulations and “eye contact,” Nick slid out of the chair and screamed, “You are as dumb as it gets!” Then he punched and slapped Schmidt. Laughing. My. Face. Off.

NEXT: Wrapping things up (pun!)

Back to Jess, who realized she’d made a mistake in dismissing Sam. She decided to drive to his hospital, narrowly avoiding a DUI — in part because, as the designated driver, she wasn’t drunk (just a damn mess on whom Winston had thrown a drink) and in part because the cop that stopped them was “Black Santa” (merry, faithful, and generous). When the hospital receptionist wouldn’t let her past the waiting room, Angie flashed her boobs, which proved a bit of a slow-up for the guys because, well… boobs!

They traveled through the halls like a less-organized, holiday-themed Breakfast Club, only to be stopped by a security guard. Jess was quick on her feet, launching into a madrigal rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Alas, everyone else wasn’t so quick on his/her feet (Schmidt’s contribution: “David… Hannukah… menorah”). Sam heard the choral cacophony and knew it had to be Jess. He walked out just as she finished up an American Idol-style overly confident runs (for which she received Glee-level inappropriate applause). It was all-around Fox-tastic, is what I’m saying.

Closing moments: Jess and Sam kissed. Schmidt and Cece wanted to kiss after he revealed he hadn’t given away the tungsten carbide bracelet Cece gave him (the one Statham wore in all the Transporter movies). Nick and Angie kissed… and then some. And Winston, though alone, was the episode’s MVP. There was no roommate dance party, but it was a pretty charming (midseason) finale no less.

And without further ado…

Notable dotables:

Jess on Christmas:

“Someone tells me a fat man’s bringing me dolls every year, I just don’t question it.”

The roommates’ potential holiday parties…

Schmidt: Slate and Sienna are having a house thing. Oshiro san is serving whale meat after midnight.

Jess: Sadie is having a cookie decorating party.

Schmidt: The Gorilla Twins are having a thump-thump.

Schmidt on Christmas:

“You [Jess] would have been my nightmare [as a kid]. We were on very strict orders from Rabbi Shmuli not to say a word until the last Christian kid found about Santa Claus. Ruining Christmas? Very bad for our brand.”

“I just want to spend the night making it with some fatty in an elf costume. Is that too much to ask for? Instead I’m stuck here at this lesbian cookie party. It’s all wreaths, no trees.”

“I don’t celebrate Christmas. Or as I like to call it, White Anglo Saxon Winter Privilege Night.”

“I’m so sick of hanging out with Christians. This is my last Christian Christmas!”

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Episode Recaps

New Girl

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