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March 12, 2014 at 04:30 AM EDT

The ep may have been called “Fired Up,” but it fizzled more than sizzled, no? Is Schmidt’s sudden descent into poverty a long held-over karmic make-good for his cheating? Why does Nick’s former life in law keep resurfacing? Why hasn’t Winston gone off to police academy yet? What is the point of Cece’s new relationship (if you can call it that)? And would it be too soon if we never saw another episode of Jess at school? Ponder those questions as you read…

Schmidt (and, by extension, Nick’s legal ineptitude) was really the centerpiece of Tuesday’s ep. Because he’d overextend himself financially by renting a storefront for Abby’s never-gonna-happen Danger Jewelry line (TM me, 2014), he had to move all the belongings from his bachelor pad in 4C to storage in that retail space so his stuff wouldn’t clutter the gang’s already overcrowded loft. On moving day, some dude walked in off the street and inquired about buying one of Schmidt’s lamps. Despite the obvious illegality, hocking his expensive wares seemed to Schmidt like a quick fix. That is, until the guy fell, broke his arm, and threatened to sue.

At Winston’s suggestion, Nick offered to use his long-dormant legal expertise. Schmidt was hesitant about hiring “Vivica A. Dropout” as his representation — but Nick insisted, “You don’t forget how to be a lawyer, it’s like riding a bike.” (Cue flashback of Nick forgetting how to ride a bike.) Things went awry almost immediately after Schmidt negotiated Nick down to a symbolic $4 retainer fee, and the fact that Nick was easily derailed by Winston in a mock mediation didn’t bode well for Schmidt. He fired Nick.

Nick was disconsolate, especially since he’d laid down a whopping $19 for a briefcase. Somewhere in the midst of a chat with Jess, he completely misinterpreted what she was saying and decided to reinstate himself as Schmidt’s attorney. As Schmidt was about to begin his deposition, Nick and Winston showed up — fronting as the law firm of Cooper, Miller & Furguson(!) — it wasn’t long before Nick’s “defense” devolved into absolute shambles. Most cleverly, the highlights were delivered by the court stenographer (or “lady typer,” as Nick called her) in an unimpressed monotone, including the moment when Schmidt began smacking Nick with Nick’s own hand. Weirdly, Winston probably could have made something of the case (he was surprisingly adept at playing the legal-eagle jackhole), but Schmidt was ready to agree to a $20,000 settlement.

But Nick had a plan… and it was just crazy enough to work! After a quick caucus, Nick and Schmidt returned into the boardroom, and Nick made a big show of sitting in his chair (from which he’d removed the screws), falling, and “injuring” himself. The other lawyers easily saw through the ruse, but Nick assured them that he was “a lunatic with only one case and no hobbies [a.k.a.] your worst nightmare.” He offered only one option: If the plaintiff’s firm would pay the $20k from its own coffers, the case would be closed. Nick Miller, you crazy bastard, you’ve done it again! (Bonus: As they left, Winston told opposing counsel, “If you ever want to play with the big boys, you know how to reach me,” before handing them a card — a baseball card.)

NEXT: Jess and Coach in the season’s hottest new workplace comedy

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