By Lanford Beard
January 16, 2013 at 05:48 AM EST
Greg Gayne/Fox
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Nickels. That’s the nickname given to Nick by his father Walt (Dennis Farina), who paid a visit last night. Well… Nickels and “Little Penis” (more on that later). It turns out that Nick’s dad is better than Nick at a lot of things — charming the pants off of people (sometimes even himself), feely cup, growing a luxurious mustache, and swindling Winston. But what Nick lacks in suave, he makes up for by not being a damn con man. And so we begin the tale of the demoralization of Nick Miller by the coward Walt Miller…

Nick began the episode blindfolded so as to enhance the surprise of his father’s arrival. Also, because he was playing a game of feely cup, in which you reach blindly into a cup and guess what’s inside based on touch. Nick is apparently terrible at this game. (Related note: Am I old? Is this a thing now? And, if so, whyyyy?) The only highlight of this time-killer scene was watching Nick’s anguished expression as he guessed everything from “fingerling potato” to “battery.” And all the time it was something so obvious: A tampon wrapped in duct tape and dipped in baking powder. Gah!

Long story short, Nick kind of hates his dad for reasons including a general lack of moral fiber and chronic unpredictability. But Winston never had a dad, so he clung to Walt (grower of a mustache “like the world’s sexiest pushbroom”) like baking powder to a duct tape-wrapped tampon. When Schmidt informed Jess that Walt was a con man (not a “business man” as Winston claimed), she switched over to her foreplay voice and riff on The Music Man (a riff, I’ll note, that inspired an adorable giggle from Schmidt). As we know, anything that gives Jess and excuse for her old-timey voice finds a home in her heart.

Another defining characteristic of Jess? She’s ultra-gullible. The ep featured an ongoing thread in which Walt duped Jess with lies ranging from amateur (“Hey, what’s that?!”) to semi-pro (tricking her into buying a racehorse “for Nick”). Even Nick got in on the action briefly, fibbing that his real name was Jamil. Of course Jess fell for it because, let’s face it, Jess would probably try to nurse back to life a bee that stung her in the gigantic eyeball. She’s just that unwilling to see bad in this world. And I have to tell you, I gave much thought to whether this plot line was too over-the-top to be believable. I’ve concluded that it was not (just barely). It’s not that Jess is stupid, per se, but she’s just so… Jess-y. It’s her greatest gift and her greatest burden — drawn from the very aspect of Zooey Deschanel’s own person that people find most polarizing. But I digress…

NEXT: The origins of Little Penis

Despite Walt’s spotty track record as a father, Winston defended him unfailingly, even wearing a misprinted Chicago Bulls hat (see Dotables) that “Pop-Pop” gave him probably 20 years ago — most likely after a load of these hats “fell off a truck” somewhere between Chicago and Champaign-Urbana. Back in the present, Nick was angry-fixing the sink in a misguided effort to smooth over his father-inspired trust and anger issues, and to bring down “blood pressure of a hummingbird.” It didn’t work. Nor, later that night, did Walt’s raucous retelling of how Nick got the nickname “Little Penis.” Short story shorter, it involved a tick on Lil’ Nicky’s winky, and… that’s it? Basically, Walt’s just really good at making Nick feel bad about himself.

But back to how this all led to a trip to the race track. It all began because Walt lied to Jess that he wanted a second chance. Since second chances are Jess’s “favorite kind of chance” and since she genuinely believed she could force father and son to mend their relationship with a heart-to-heart, she dragged Nick along. Of course, her feeble scheming only facilitated Walt’s shady scumbaggery. He wanted to buy a horse to sell its semen to Dubai, as you do. So he convinced Jess that Nick’s one childhood dream was to own a steed. Acknowledging that Nick “hates living things,” she nevertheless went with it.

After a pathetic farce in which she pretended to be a veterinary student (diagnosis: “I’m seeing a lot of split ends; the mane is totally cut in the wrong shape for his face”), Jess found herself $500 poorer and in a dark parking lot with the Miller men. Nick began to sweat profusely and bumble like an idiot at the sight of Walt’s “business associates.” Fearing they might be a cop, they ordered him to take off his pants. (There was also leprechaun-like dancing, though I’m still not certain why.) Amid all this hubbub, Nick admitted he was sweating because he was lying. One of the thugs whipped out a crowbar, but Nick saved the day by falling back on an old childhood tactic he used to employ to scare off men threatening Walt (see Dotables). The semen bandits fled into the night. Needless to say, these shenanigans were a real deal breaker for Nick, too. Instead of simply apologizing, Walt offered Nick his own pants. Nick didn’t want them, so they ended the night, both pantsless and watching Jess try pitifully to steer a horse trailer out of the lot.

The next morning, Walt predictably flaked on Nick, which motivated Jess to anger-fix the sink just as Nick had — though her version of “fixing” things mainly involved weakly flopping around a mallet. Having seen Walt for a scam artist, Jess commended Nick for not being more of a mess. Nick admitted he kept a lot of his dysfunction to himself (ex. “I haven’t done laundry in five months. I’m not wearing underwear, just a big sock — a big sock [wink]”). And then there were two. And I’m not talking about Nick and Jess. I’m talking about the con artist power couple of my dreams: Walt Miller and Karen Walker’s mother Lois. Together, they’d be unstoppable.

NEXT: Speaking of power couples…

Elsewhere, Schmidt was working his own gambit, and the pawn was Robbie. As Cece’s mother tried to set her up with another Indian boy, Schmidt snarked, “Yeah. Have fun with your Devs and Anushes and your Deepaks… whatever Patel that you’re dating.” He really lost his cool, though, when she said the name of her latest set-up. Schmidt rattled off the guy’s family’s success in a frenzy: “They only nailed the crowd control logistics in Bombay’s revamped open-air market!” Busted.

The next day, while the rest of the roommates were watching the ponies, Schmidt went to a restaurant to stake out Cece and her date. There he ran into Robbie, who thought donning a masterful disguise (a.k.a. a baseball cap) and spying on Cece might earn him another shot. Of course, Cece spotted  them — in the middle of a commiserative embrace, no less — and the jig was up. Or was it? They decided to work together to shut down Cece’s Indian romantic prospects. It was their own little “white (guy) power” movement. (It’s worth noting that Schmidt immediately recognized the negative, racist associations of that particular name. Robbie… not so much). Schmidt’s goal was simple: “Neutralize the Subcontinental threat” by reuniting Cece and Robbie. Then he would swoop in and “smite” Robbie. Though Robbie was not on board with the latter half of the plan, it was still totally on.

Though many ideas were on the table (Dotables), they ultimately went for simplicity and stormed Cece’s apartment, where she was all decked out — and looking stunning — in a sari/bindi combo. Cue a stream of Indian sexual puns from Schmidt (Dotables). Naturally Cece’s family, as well as her suitor’s, was hearing this entire exchange because they were meeting to bless the beginning of Cece’s new relationship. Though that’s not what Schmidt assuming was happening. One word: Orgy.

When Robbie saw Cece’s handsome prospect, he felt sunk. Schmidt pumped him up: “You’re kind, you always have gum, and you’ve got so much pep!” Robbie returned the compliment: “You’re confident, you’re punctual, and you came up with this awesome plan.” Though that last one’s debatable, their commitment to this fledgling bromance was not. Robbie issued a few more cries of “White guy power!” before one of Cece’s more menacing-looking family members stepped in, and the new bros scuttled off. They headed back to the loft and wondered if Cece and her new beau would work out. “I don’t know, really can’t say,” Schmidt said. “What I can is that one arranged marriage did take place today — the marriage of Schmidt and Robbie!” They clinked, and Schmidt continued, “I only dread the day that we defeat all the Indians and must face each other in a dual to the death.” Robbie: “Oh… buzzkill.”

NEXT: Monsoon Bedding

Notable Dotables:

Jess [about Walt’s misprinted hats]: “CHICA GO BILLS” is actually Spanish for, uh, “Young girl… go Bills.”

Winston: Who’s going to mess with a guy who’s wearing a hat that says, “YOUNG GIRL GO BILLS”? The answer is everybody. They will. They mess with you.

Schmidt: You know, when Nick is not working, the service is abysmal. I mean, how many times did I have to repeat the words “Lemon Drop shot”?

Cece: Yeah, I think he was making fun of you.

Schmidt: For what? Working hard and playing hard? I guess the joke is on me!

Walt: You really seem to care about little Nicky.

Jess: I mean, look at him. He looks like Hilary Swank mixed with a sad, wet dog.

Walt: When Nick-Nick was a kid, he would come to track with me all the time. And if I got in trouble, he would get me out of it by doing the Sugar Ray! [laughs uproariously]

Jess: What’s the Sugar Ray?

Nick: It’s when I’d pretend to be a diabetic kid so the man who was threatening to beat up my father would run off scared.

Walt: See! We did have some good times!

Nick: There are people in life who you want to be unpredictable — your pothead neighbor… or Vice President Joe Biden. And then there are people you don’t want to be unpredictable, like your dentist or, I don’t know, your father!

Winston: Look, Nick, my dad left when I was 3. Every single day, rain or shine, he just never came back. I wish he’d been a little more unpredictable. That’s all I’m saying. [Pause] And yeah, sure, Walt may owe me a couple hundred bucks, but it’s not a big deal.

Nick: My dad owes you money? How much?

Winston: Three, four… 1,100 bucks.

Schmidt: I feel like Cece’s making a big mistake with this Indian guy. She should be with somebody like us.

Robbie: Totally. White guy power! [Sees the look on Schmidt’s face] Oh, okay… ummm… Cool guy power!

Schmidt: Now you’re talkin’, Robbie!

Robbie: What are we going to do?

Schmidt: I don’t know. I mean, 1 billion Indian men is a daunting foe. I suddenly feel empathy for Pakistan. But it’s like they say — How do you eat an elephant, Robbie?

Robbie [grins knowingly]: With chopsticks. [Schmidt is incredulous] Slowly — and with chopsticks.

Schmidt: With chopsticks? No!

Robbie: In a taco?

Schmidt: What?

Robbie: Yeah, elephant tacos.

Schmidt: Elephant tacos? Who eats elephant tacos? That’s not even a saying. One bite at a time, Robbie!

Walt: I found some guys to take the horse off my hands. Horse semen in Dubai is gold!

Jess: No, you can’t sell a father’s love. There’s more to a father’s love than just semen. [Pause] Ewww! Poetic, but ew!

Robbie: Check this out — we get seersucker suits and two more guys, and then we serenade [Cece] with a barbershop quartet?

Schmidt: Well if we got 10 more guys and a plan, we’d form an Ocean’s 12. I would be Brad Pitt. You would be the crafty Asian fellow who does the flippies.

Robbie: Oh, I have a great idea! We could name a star after her. I know this website, and we could pick one that’s next to Robbies I through VIII.

Schmidt: You have eight stars already?

Robbie: There’s like a billion of them. They’re really cheap!

Schmidt: And eight of them are yours?

Robbie: It’s only gonna go up in value.

Schmidt: That’s a horrible investment. [Thinking…] I know she’s into that Gandhi crapola. We could self-immolate!

Robbie: I feel like we’re so close!

Schmidt’s Sari- and Cinema-Themed Sexual Fantasies…

Monsoon Bedding

The Best Exotic Mari-bone Hotel

Slum Doggy Style Millionaire 

Nick: Jess, if you’re going to mess with my sink, put some goggles on! Your eyes are twice the size of normal eyes — it’s a bigger target.

Bonus strategery…

Schmidt: What do you think about this? We get a three-person canoe, okay? Then we go to her house, we rap on the door, she answers the door, she sees the three-person canoe, she realizes there’s only two of us, and we say, “Ah, what a conundrum! Please join us.”

Robbie: What about this one? We get some night vision goggles… I guess that’s all I’ve got… I don’t know what else.

Schmidt: I would say Trojan Horse, but…

Robbie: In this economy?

Schmidt: We could always go on a hunger strike.

Robbie: We enlist in the Navy. We quickly rise through the ranks, and then we can take her to the Naval Officers’ Ball.

Schmidt: I feel we’re right there!

Read more:

‘New Girl’: All Wreaths, No Trees

‘New Girl’: Taste the V

Episode Recaps

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