By Lanford Beard
Updated March 12, 2014 at 04:30 AM EDT
Credit: Adam Taylor/Fox

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

Meanwhile, Jess had secured Coach a job overseeing her middle school’s volleyball team. He had all the qualities: “I don’t like kids. I don’t like teaching. I just like paychecks.” No surprise, Coach was way too hardcore (threatening to murder the kids’ families, for starters), but he actually really enjoyed the job.

Upon seeing that Jess was taking on extra work (like doing IT quick fixes and painting over graffiti that was definitely not corn on the cob), Coach also took it upon himself to teach Jess how to be more assertive in asking for her dream job as vice principal. Cue a series of scenes of Coach screaming at Jess and spiking a volleyball in her face — the latter unintentionally, it must be noted.

The irony was twofold: Jess’s principal made it pretty clear no one actually wanted the job she’d been prepared to toil for years to score. But, more to the point, getting the gig actually put Jess in the position of having to fire her own roommate (the school had to make budget cuts, and he’d been the last one hired). Jess’s betrayal resulted in a lot of crying children — who apparently loved Coach’s threats that he’d eat their faces off — and plenty of disapproving squints from Winston. It also resulted in a crying sesh at the bar with Coach that emboldened Jess to re-hire him and march to the team’s volleyball game against Pasadena, where Coach resumed his duties as a terrifier/motivator of children. Jess’s boss was insulted by her actions, but a little teamwork and creative thinking offered up a few ways to save money while retaining Coach. (Principal: “God, you frost my cookies.” Jess: “Thank you!”) It was an indisputable happy ending — and then Jess got another spike to the face.

In the other five minutes of the half hour, Cece agreed to go on a date with with a hot, boat-building, 20-year-old Australian. Perhaps there’s more to come from this particular plot development, but for now its most redeeming feature was bringing back Ben Falcone as Cece’s horny gay boss and giving him the chance to say, “Get outta here, you delicious bastard!”

NEXT: “Nick loves it in the caboose, yes he does…

Notable Dotables…

Schmidt: Do you really want me to put an Ian Shrager rug in a room without climate control?

Nick: What? Ohhh, he was the guy in Star Wars… [disdainfully] medium talent.

Schmidt: God, I’ve fallen. I’m almost below you now, Nick. Fellow passengers, stuck in the caboose of life.

Nick: You think I’m in the caboose of life?

Schmidt: You love it in the caboose, but not me. It hurts. It’s actually quite jarring.

Winston [singing]: Nick loves it in the caboooose…

Nick: I don’t want it in the caboose.

Winston [singing]: …yes, he does!

Nick: What you’re doing is illegal. You can’t say this is a store.

Schmidt: I’m not taking advice from you. You pronounce the “g” in lasagna.

Nick [confused]: La-zag-na. [Decides it sounds right.]

Schmidt: This is an outrage! I’ve been all over, and I can’t afford anybody. This is unbelievable. Access to premium legal counsel should be every Jew’s birthright.

Winston [with trial-ready gravitas]: And the jury will see that there is no justice for the Hebrew man — not in these so-called United States.

Nick: What is that that you’re doing?

Winston: I can’t get enough of this legal drama. Check this out — favorite author, Grisham; favorite TV show, Judging Amy; favorite color, courtroom brown. [Epiphany!] Courtroom Brown… damn, I wish that was my nickname.

Nick: Did you just make that up? Because it was perfect, man.

Episode Recaps


New Girl

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

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