By Lanford Beard
Updated February 05, 2014 at 05:30 AM EST
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

Can’t say this episode did a lot to move sitcom gender politics forward, folks. As we have long known, women only have two modes: adorably naïve or vengeful psychopath. Men, meanwhile, are just out to bone. Feel free to disagree with me (and all respect to Adam Brody and Mary Elizabeth Ellis), but this ep felt like a bit of a letdown after Sunday’s genuinely hilarious, plot-advancing post-Super Bowl episode. Sure, it exposed an emotional side to Nick we rarely see (albeit one even Jess didn’t fully buy), but it also lost some ground — for me at least — with a reliance on clichéd “big concepts” rather than small-scale character comedy. The latter is where New Girl thrives. So, shall we?

Nick ran into his ex Caroline (Ellis) at a farmer’s market. You might wonder, Since when is Nick at a farmer’s market? Since he got into a relationship with Jess, of course. Though Nick panicked at the encounter, actually taking out at least a few carts, Jess was living in a self-propagated illusion that exes could be friends just like she was with her former beau and current super-stay-at-home dad Berkley (Brody), i.e. the “most emotionally evolved person I know.” She encouraged Nick to try to smooth things over with Caroline (as you’ll recall he walked out on her right after they’d moved in together in the season 1 finale). Though Nick worried Caroline might hurt him physically… or “with words!” he set up a mercilessly booze-free coffee date. What followed was Nick babbling for 30 minutes — sometimes in a quasi-Cockney accent! — with the highlight of Jake Johnson’s improvisation being, “I think a guy died in the building ’cause one day in the dumpster there was a bunch of clothes that just fit me.”

What didn’t happen during Nick and Caroline’s “friendly” meet-up? Two things: First, he didn’t mention Jess in any way, shape, or form — even after Caroline asked if there had been someone else (and, even though we know Jess and Nick didn’t get together for months, this omission still made him look like a liar). Second, they clearly did not resolve their issues and/or become actual friends. The nail in the coffin? When Caroline spotted Nick kissing Jess on the street just minutes later.

Caroline began to send Nick a string of righteously indignant texts about his presumed cheating, and Jess suggested they call Berkley for advice since he’d written an e-book on befriending exes. Let’s just overlook that this would be a completely absurd idea under any circumstances, let’s scoot right past Jess’s completely inappropriate text inviting Berkley over (“Babe”? “XOXOXO”?), and let’s put a pin in Nick’s assumption Berkley had only clung to his friendship with Jess in hopes they’d reunite (or at least have sex). Instead, let’s just recall how we welcomed Adam Brody and his adorable baby-actor scene partner onto our screens.

Once together, Jess and Berkley were super-annoying. Between inside jokes, talk of bamboo high chairs, and self-satisfied fatherhood metaphors, they were the kind of sanctimonious couple (broken up or not) you’d be slugging down bellinis at Sunday brunch to forget you’d ever become yoked to in the first place. As such, their advice was pretty useless. And, since this is Nick Miller, he ignored it anyway and sent Caroline a terse text: “My bad. Let’s be friends, k?”

Nick’s disregard for the woman he left (for still unexplained reasons) was enough to send his jilted ex over the edge. She showed up on the street below the loft, caterwauling and shattering the windshield of a car she thought was Nick’s with cinder blocks and 2×4’s. Inadvertently let into the building by one of Schmidt’s tricks (more on that later), she arrived at apartment 4D and began pounding on the door. And that wasn’t even the most insane part of this whole quadrangle…

NEXT: Nick admits why he left Caroline (prepare to swoon)

As it turns out, Berkley was indeed still carrying a torch for Jess. Earlier in the day, Jess had told him, “Thank you. You’re incredible, and I’m so lucky to have you in my life.” He took her affirmation as a sign to leave his wife and make Jess his son’s stepmother. After fending off an unwanted kiss with her kitchen-sink spray nozzle (only, it disconnected, and Berkley took Jess’s direction to “pretend this is attached and there’s water” as a cue to do a sexy aquatic mime shtick), Jess tried to hide Berkley’s overtures so Nick wouldn’t know he was right and, by extension, she was wrong.

Right around the time Caroline got into the loft, the jig was up. Berkley proclaimed his crazy love for Jess out loud and started trying to push Nick and Caroline back together. At one point, Jess even laid out a timeline of major events in the roomfriends’ courtship (Nick left Caroline, London Olympics, trouble in Syria, Superstorm Sandy, two months later Nick and Jess kissed — and she didn’t even mention that it took them months after that to actually go “all in”), but Caroline wasn’t having it. She harshly told Jess, “It’s not going to be long before he stops holding your hand and starts high-fiving you, and he stops letting you be the little spoon, and he starts drifting off during important conversations. Jess, you’re the girlfriend now, but one day you’re going to be the ex.” Jess had to excuse herself to the bathroom to cry because “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve led a very fortune life!

Nick finally shut down the petty arguing and misdirected scheming with a confession for Caroline: He’d loved Jess since the moment she walked into the loft. Once Caroline felt like she wasn’t crazy after all (Nick: “Wellllll…“), the issue was settled. Caroline left, as did Berkley — though only after pathetically asking Jess and Nick if he could avoid his wife a little longer, maybe play some cards? Though Jess was skeptical that Nick had really fallen in love at first sight (because, seriously? He obviously did not), she was willing to accept the super-romantic fib once Nick swept her up in his arms.

NEXT: Schmidt’s Sex Palace is open for risky bidness

Across the hall, Schmidt had finally fully furnished his loft, and it was exactly as stylishly douchebag-y as you might imagine. Other than an awesome sports-watching TV and a bar that rose out of the living room table, the loft’s main feature was its “bang spots” (see Dotables). Yes, Schmidt could bang here, he could bang there, he could bang everywhere! As such, he was hitting up the bar in search of the first loose lady to cross his path. Note to Schmidt: When you’re trying to seduce a girl, don’t hack up a lung before telling her, “You could scream in [my apartment], no one would ever hear you!” If it weren’t already obvious, Schmidt was in the depths of a sex drought — he’d lost his mojo due to a lack of human contact from living alone. It was a problem that had to be solved!

Schmidt finally found a willing woman and gave her directions back to his bachelor pad. (I guess that’s how they do it in L.A.?) Only, when Schmidt arrived home, a strange woman was eating his expensive strawberries and asking, “Are you a friend of Schmidt’s?” In his enthusiasm to stave off the loneliness, Schmidt had given Coach and Winston keys to his apartment (as well as coupons for a free sub sandwich), and Coach had brought back a hit-it-and-quit-it and told her his name was Schmidt — just in case she saw his mail.

Schmidt reluctantly assented to pretend to be Coach’s Greek friend Frank Skabapoulos and use the guest bedroom, which… yuck… but when he got there, Winston was on top of Bertie (Jessica Chaffin) — remember Bertie?! — in a police hat. Apparently they were playing Bad Cop, Black Cop. As you do…. Schmidt once again improvised, allowing the other guys to use his bedrooms since the toothpaste was clearly out of that tube. He would get his boom-boom on atop one of the living room’s many appropriate surfaces and/or beanbag chairs. The only stipulation was that the guys could not leave the bedroom until Schmidt had ended the sex drought.

He hadn’t even gotten to second base when Coach’s crazy one-nighter ran out in a tizzy. With the identity confusion exposed, Coach and Schmidt tried to pretend they were both named Schmidt, that they were literally brothers from another mother. But Strawberry Shortstack wasn’t placated: “Then who is Frank Skabapoulos?” Cue Winston: “I AM FRANK SKABAPOULOS!” (Best moment of the night by a mile!) Surrounded by blank stares, Winston tentatively asked, “Is this helping, Schmidt? I forgot the plan.” Coach’s girl jumped to the conclusion that this was some sort of crazy group sex game going on, but Bertie was the only one down for that sweet action. And so Coach and Schmidt were left blue in the nether regions. Winston, however, had a truly excellent night on Schmidt’s “heavenly” guest room bed.

NEXT: The Karma Schmidt-ra

Notable Dotables…

Excerpts from Nick Miller’s Philosophy for Dummies Zombies

Exes: “They’re part of the past. You burn them swiftly, and you give their ashes to Poseidon.”

Men: “Men are sick. Look, I’m a relatively good guy, but even I’m a sicko. That’s why we have the Internet as a community.”

Texting: “This one’s the worst by far — it’s just a bunch of smiley faces.”

Jess: We can’t give up that farmers market. It’s so nice, walking around, chatting with vendors. I feel like Don Corleone.

Nick: I think a lot of ladies do.

Coach: It’s nice inside [your apartment], man. It’s like a European airport.

Schmidt: Oh what’s that? You want to watch the game? Which one? Basketball? Football? Of Thrones?

Winston: Look at you, dude, you’re like James Bond! I’d be Moneypenny for sure. Which one is Moneypenny?

Coach [laughing]: It’s the woman.

Winston: Oh….

Jess: Where is this coming from?

Berkley: You! The phone calls, the texts — “Boyfriend problems. I need you. Hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses.” You have been setting up dominoes for 10 years, and now they are falling.

Jess: You have a baby, sir!

Berkley: And you are going to make such a good stepmom. I love you, Jessica. God, it feels good to say that out loud and not just to my sleeping wife.

Coach: Why is she calling you Schmidt?

Schmidt: I told her to call me Schmidt in case she saw your mail.

Schmidt: I don’t just leave mail out. This isn’t a small business! Get out.

Coach: Dude, I’m about to seal the deal, I’m not getting out.

Schmidt: I’m about to… I’m a… I’m a deal-sealer.

Coach: I’m about to get some squish, dude, and you need to not [interfere with that].

Schmidt: I’m about to nail it into the wall.

Coach: Dude, I’m about to take down that va-dragon. I’m about to pin the tail on the va-donkey, dude. You better not stand in the way of this.

Schmidt: Don’t call her a va-donkey. I don’t even know her, bro, and I want her to leave, but please don’t call her a va-donkey!

Coach: I need this.

Schmidt: Okay. I’ll use the guest room — like an animal.

Berkley: [I knew you still loved me in] 2004. You brushed my hand at a Dave Matthews concert. During “Two Step.”

Nick: “Two Step”?!

Berkley: Or the time I helped you move, and I came over, I was wearing sweatpants. You couldn’t stop staring at my rig.

Nick: She loves looking at rigs!

Jess: Why are you both calling it a “rig”?

Winston: Look at this place, Schmidt. You’ve got so many plush surfaces.

Schmidt: Well there are 15 different Bang Spots in here, each one specifically designated to its own sexual position — that’s standing, this is sitting, that’s diagonal…

Winston: Ha! That’s how I do it.

Schmidt: …the “Why? Why? Because!” The Closure of the Lincoln Tunnel, the Red Beanbag Chair — which is pretty obvious, but you know that’s a good one. The Glass Menagerie, the Bike Share, the Backwards “Oops!” [Later…] The Star 68, the Jumanji

Coach: You could lay the Yule Log on here, that’d be cool.

Schmidt: …the Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Fabric Softener, that’s the Kansas Shaker. Back there, that’s the Nia Vardalos. That’s one’s Sex on the Rug, which is again pretty obvious. You know, why mess with a classic?

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

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