By Lanford Beard
Updated October 02, 2013 at 04:55 AM EDT
Adam Taylor/Fox

It all started when Jess invited Schmidt and Cece on a double date with her and Nick. Schmidt panicked because he already had plans with Elizabeth that night (Dexter and pie, natch). Seeing this frenetic energy, Cece began to notice something off about Schmidt. She interrupted Jess and Nick’s afterglow to spitball some ideas. Jess poo-poohed the idea that Schmidt might be on drugs: “Remember how hard he took it when Lance [Armstrong] got busted — he just stared at that yellow bracelet and cried.” So, with Whip-Its ruled out, Jess enlisted Nick to talk to Schmidt. In exchange, she’d give him “a treat” in the form of role play — her country lawyer with an itchy bra could be seduced by whatever-Nick-was-playing-at (his only salient character trait: “worker’s hands”). But let’s get to the important bits, like how this scene resulted not only in the revelation that Jess had creaky elbow from “seventh grade, fist pumping too hard at a Weird Al show” but also in Nick exposing all his naked under-regions to Cece while trying to leave the girl talk. Let’s hope that footage makes the Blu-ray!

Proving he’s not completely heartless (or at least wasn’t at the start of the ep), Schmidt finally crumbled under the guilt and revealed to Nick that he hadn’t actually broken up with either Cece or Elizabeth. Oh, and just one thing: Nick couldn’t tell Jess. Once Schmidt had completely entrapped his roomie, Nick immediately developed a case of anxiety gag reflex. Apparently Nick is a terrible liar — so bad that he had to put on a motorcycle helmet and have no-kiss-sex with Jess to avoid the inevitable vomming-out of truth. But, as established, it was inevitable. During a post-coital chuckle about Jess’s use of Spaceballs quotes as an aphrodisiac (“They jammed the radar with literal jam!”), Jess mentioned Cece. Nick went bug-eyed and tried to flap down his visor to throw Jess off the scent. Big surprise, that did not work, and Nick cried like a stool pigeon.

Jess stormed out to confront Schmidt — that “Long Island street trash” and unabashed “crumb bum” (“crumbum”?). Even as Nick enacted a hilariously awkward “distraction” dance (with show choir-style arm pops and pas de bourrees!), Jess made Schmidt promise to confess to Cece. When Cece arrived, Schmidt instead rushed her out the door, ditching his phone, and lied to her en route to the restaurant that it was Nick cheating.

Nick, meanwhile, was in lukewarm pursuit — driving incredibly poorly (he’s legally blind, turns out) and doing idiotic things like sticking his finger in the car’s cigarette lighter in solidarity with Jess. You see, she had risked life and digit because she thought Nick was being a wimp for being scared to hold Schmidt accountable for his infidelity, so she was tying to prove how much she was not a wimp… by intentionally injuring herself. Either way, they’re both burn-victim idiots with questionable taste in friends. To be continued…

NEXT: Winston, party of 5 1

Elsewhere, Winston was in his own monogamous relationship… with his new cat Ferguson. This entailed pasta dates and impromptu serenades. Have we discussed how much I LOVE when Winston sings? It is seriously the greatest thing. Get that man a record deal! (His first single would obviously be a dubstep/slow-jam cover of “Defying Gravity.”) Trying to prove that he hadn’t become a desperate loser, he not only invited himself on his roommates’ double date, he also made a bold promise that he could score a day-of reservation at an ultra-popular new restaurant called Picca. Then, undermining himself with great panache, Winston suggested, “You know what would be nuts? If I brought my cat Ferguson as a date!”

Flash forward: A Fergusonless Winston arrived at Picca. First, he ate a piece of glass thinking it was a mint. Then, upon learning there were no reservations for seven weeks, he engaged in a series of absurd and escalating maneuvers to secure a table. What started with attempted bribery (a business card scrawled with “IOU $100“) reached a midpoint so cray-cray he called the restaurant mimicking the voice of Toni Morrison (ha!) and ended with him desperately snagging the last seat at a communal table and then systematically driving away the other diners — through everything from stealing food off others’ plates to talking in some sort of “threatening” (read: vaguely African?) tongue-clicking language.

A had begun to form at the check-in desk by the time Winston had secured all eight spots at the communal table. He’d ordered a variety of entrees and strategically taken different-sized bites from all of them to keep up the ruse. (Say what you will about Winston, but the man is committed — and perhaps should be committed.) The only problem? His friends were nowhere to be found. The sequence of him looking around Picca after leaving his fourth voicemail for Jess was truly sad — not the saddest moment of the night, grant you (that was still to come), but enough to make all of us question our commitment to/comfort with singlehood.

The couples finally arrived at the restaurant, and Cece was amped up to beat the stuffing (or at least the testicles) out of Nick for creepin’ around on her bestie. Schmidt tried locking himself in his car and miming a phone conversation to buy some time, but he eventually had to go inside and face the music. The moment had come. And it was horribly uncomfortable — like, in the same way Day 39 of 40 Days of Dating or the penultimate episode of last season’s Bachelorette was wildly uncomfortable. eal talk: Break-ups suck — no matter how warranted they are — and this one didn’t even have a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt or a completely new fiancé as a parting gift! Schmidt’s speech about the lingering fat-boy insecurities that had led him to these despicable lies was legitimately tear-inducing. (Also: “You have no idea what you mean to me” — gah!) But it was Cece who deserved the most sympathy. (Hannah Simone acted tonight, y’all.) Cece didn’t deserve this. No one did. And, as much as we conceive of Schmidt as a douchebag with a heart of gold, this was beyond forgivable douchebaggery. It was just awful. You feel for Schmidt because Max Greenfield is so incredibly charismatic, but there’s nothing in the world that can justify what went down. What I’m saying is, Why must you make me feel, show? Whyyyyyy?!

Interestingly (and in an incredibly sweet scene), the sight of their best friends’ break-up only strengthened Jess and Nick’s resolve to make their relationship work. And boy will they need that resolve. After Cece called Elizabeth (whose last words to Schmidt were: “You broke my heart, mail me my mouth guard”), the d-bag had pie in his face and a vendetta in his heart. In typical Schmidt fashion, he immediately absolved himself of any guilt and placed all blame squarely on Nick and Jess. From henceforth, it would be his singular goal to break them up. And, while I’m sure the shenanigans to come will be amusing, this really is no laughing matter. For starters, there are many potential causes for conflict in Jess and Nick’s relationship (see Dotables). Add to that, Schmidt has nothing but time on his hands at this point — and I suspect he’s gotten pretty savvy with the time management during his cheating days.

On the upside, Winston might just have something to do now! There’s no way he’s not getting roped into this “project,” and no one can take an ill-conceived idea to DEFCON 1 like Winston can. Just don’t implicate Ferguson!

What do you think, Newbies? How much steam is there in Schmidt’s vengeance quest? I know there are plenty of you out there who don’t support Nick and Jess as a couple, so how would you like to see the roomfriends go down in flames?

NEXT: Schmidt locks and loads — plus all the potential ammo

Notable Dotables…

Cece: Oh my God, coffee! I barely slept last night…

Schmidt: Yeah, me too. I think I passed out for, like, 25 minutes when you jammed that sock down my throat.

Cece: I aim to please.

Cece: What’s going on? You guys were acting all so weird back there, and you’re driving like a maniac.

Schmidt: Oh geez… You know, I didn’t want to have to say anything, but… here we go — Nick is cheating on Jess!

Cece: What?

Schmidt: Apparently they met at some gas station. She’s much older. Much, much older. Deeply Korean.

Schmidt’s Manifesto

“Just a quick heads-up, Nick [and] Jess: I blame you for this whole thing. I was going to fix it. I wasn’t going to hurt anyone. And since you took it upon yourselves to hurt both of them… should it take me the rest of my life, I am going to break the two of you up. It’ll be when you least expect it — which might be when you most expect it. It could actually be when you’re watching the movie version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Regardless. I. Am coming. For you.”

The Things Schmidt Could Use to Tear Nick and Jess Apart

– She’s a member of the Democratic Green Party; he’s never voted

– She’s been banned for life from Lake Ontario

– She fears pears and pear-shaped people

– He’s “not convinced I know how to read; I’ve just memorized a lot of words”

– The doctors say she might grow another 18 inches

– He considers the 1969 moon landing “obviously fake”; she thinks the pictures on the Internet were Photoshopped “to trick stupid people”

– She “kind of” wants to get a gun

– He’s “definitely sexually attracted to lady bugs”

– He prefers the Craig Kilborn Daily Show because that host was “very charming”

What Won’t Tear Them Apart (a.k.a. What They Both Believe)…

– Horses are from outer space

UPDATE: See it for yourself!

Episode Recaps

New Girl

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