By Lanford Beard
April 16, 2014 at 04:30 AM EDT
Jennifer Clasen/Fox
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Whenever New Girl has had a big plot point in, it’s always been interesting how they handle — or don’t — the fallout in the next episode. A few examples: Jess and Nick’s first kiss in “Cooler” was followed by the Indian speed-dating shenanigans of “Table 34”; the roomfriends were doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well in “Virgins,” but “Winston’s Birthday” felt a bit like a digression; and it’s probably best if we don’t dwell too much on “Exes” (aside from Adam Brody’s dreaminess therein) because it had the misfortune to air in the wake of the excellent “I love you” declarations on “Prince.” So, as you can see, New Girl‘s track record when it comes to following up on its milestone moments is… well… not so good. I’m very happy to say that the latest episode, tracking the repercussions of Jess and Nick’s split, is the exception. From the returns of Tran(!) and Furguson(!!!) to the throwbacks to the ridiculous costumes and submissive monkey noises, the episode was a real treat. Sweet as a Honey Roast-ed peanut, and just as cute.

In typical New Girl style, “Big News” picked up the morning after the break-up. Nick woke up to find his hand covered in Memento-style notes: “You and Jess broke up”… “Bed got burned”… “It was not a dream”… “Writing left-handed is harb.” After he was startled by Jess in his closet (see Dotables), the exes began negotiating how exactly they’d cohabitate moving forward (no more seeing each other naked meant “boob season’s over” for Nick). They both pretended they were handling the split well — he wasn’t leaving her 300 voicemails, she wasn’t watching Dirty Dancing on repeat (pilot throwback!) — but it was clear their ability to maintain this ruse would be about as weak as Nick’s knowledge of Patrick Swayze’s filmography. Ghost is the one with Whoopi, Nick. Ghost! (ASIDE: Props to Jake Johnson for spot-on execution of that incredibly awkward tangent about a monkey documentary he watched, including but not limited to a noise of submission that sounded like Agnes’s “annoying” noise from Despicable Me. His last look was so pitiful, it added just a touch of pathos — which you wouldn’t imagine would be possible after the line “they also give each other oral pleasure, and they masturbate.” END OF ASIDE)

Jess and Nick also realized they’d have to tell the loftmates the titular “Big News,” so they headed out to the living room. Unfortunately, they stumbled upon Winston, Coach, and Schmidt singing “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…?” Yep! Winston passed his LAPD Academy entrance exam and wanted to throw himself a banquet. (Schmidt derided the idea of throwing a party for oneself “cheesy” — season 2 opener throwback! Though, does it count as throwing a party for yourself if you’re actually throwing it for your penis?) Given his hard-earned success, Winston felt entitled to ask, “Can anyone think of any reason why today should not be all about me?” And so it was clear Nick and Jess would have to hold in the announcement — and their feelings — for a little while longer.

The silver lining of Jess and Nick’s totally not “okay”-ness was that Nick went to the park to consult with Tran! (Highlights: “I’m sorry to pull you out of your dance class…. aw, the recital was today?” and “You’re also my best friend — don’t start that weird jazz train!”) Nick came away with one piece of advice: “The problem is the solution,” i.e. stay busy, i.e. put all his energy into planning Winston’s party so he wouldn’t think about Jess. While Tran was his usual placid, sage self, Jess’s mom was a blubbering mess who advised her daughter to “get that semen cookin'” so Jess could bear her some grandbabies. (Semi-related, it’s really a shame Jess’s mom never met Nick’s dad. They would have enjoyed so much semen-related conversation!)

So Nick returned to the apartment, Caucasian policeman piñata in hand, and said Winston shouldn’t relegate his celebration to a mere banquet. He should have his dream party. And what would that be? Winston didn’t miss a beat before declaring he wanted a Honey Roast. (Coach’s priceless react: “What the hell is that? Don’t say it like it’s some thing we know!”) A Honey Roast, apparently, is a roast where you can only say nice things about the person being roasted. Nick would make Winston a “prominent chair” (a.k.a. a throne) and also emcee. Oh, yeah, this is definitely not going to end badly.

NEXT: Coach gets touchy

In other news, Cece was studying for her GED exam. She’d already failed five practice tests and wasn’t even sure she was going to show up for the real thing. Schmidt held back his “legions” of snide comments — well, not all of them: “Of course you’re failing. You’re studying here in a rowdy tavern, Chumbawumba’s playing, and it’s not even “Tubthumping,” you’re writing with what appears to be a golf pencil, [and] where are your flashcards? Do you not even have one single flashcard? There’s maraschino goo everywhere. You don’t have a flashcard?” He decided to take over as her tutor, starting with geography in light of the revelation that Cece didn’t realize that Perth (where her new boyfriend Buster is from) is in Australia.

Jess couldn’t hold back the news any longer and ended up barging in on the exes studying at Cece’s apartment. They went into Cece’s bedroom and locked Schmidt out, which caused him to panic at being left out, bang on the door repeatedly, and unleash a torrent of hilarity (see Dotables).

Nick was also panicking because he’d blown three attempts to assemble Winston’s “prominent chair” to his own satisfaction. He was also coming up short on cute things to say about Winston beyond Winston’s adorable feet. Coach — who countered, “If anything’s cute about Winston, it’s his yawn” — noticed Nick’s stress and took on a tone of voice that forced Nick to confess he’d dumped Jess. After his own embarrassing experiences overemoting with his ex Malia, Coach advised Nick to hide his feelings “no matter what.” He also directed his pal to Schmidt’s anxiety pills.

Back at Cece’s place, Jess was forlorn that Nick seemed so calm about the break-up: “Like, he’s happier than me watching Coach watching Winston yawn.” Cece agreed to join Jess in going back to the loft to talk it over with Nick. She was greeted by Coach, who instinctively gave her a consoling hug, then had to cover it up with a kiss on the forehead and a namaste bow. He claimed this was his new greeting, and the whole situation was like a reverse Chandler goodbye from Friends. (Unsurprisingly, Schmidt was really into Coach’s new shtick: “Thanks, Coach, I needed that.”)

Jess and Nick stepped aside to talk. He had to put on sunglasses because his eye was twitching, a side effect of the meds. Another side effect? He was “light as air” and loopy as Toucan Sam. He told Jess he was focusing all his energies on Winston’s Honey Roast, and she was visibly miffed that Nick appeared to consider that to be “the most important thing that had happened today.”

Outside, Schmidt stormed in, also visibly miffed that Cece had left tutoring and was less concerned her future than he was. Cece broke and spilled the beans. Schmidt freaked out: “Who gives a rat’s ‘A’ [about your education now]? Jess and Nick break up, and you spring this on me like it’s the frickin’ weather report. I’m a child of divorce. I am delicate. You should have graduated the first time, you buffoon.” Ha!

Jess emerged, riled up and ready to drank because of Nick’s “fine”-ness: “Make it a big one,” she told Cece, “a holiday pour, because today’s all about Winston.” Cue The Bish in his finest white tux, cane and all — “Did somebody say Winston?”

NEXT: And now for the Honey Roast!

And so Nick — surrounded by balloons, standing at a makeshift podium, and having assembled a “prominent chair” made of a crutch, a baseball bat, and a rake, among other things — got the Honey Roast underway. By his side? A rosé-chugging Jess dressed as Furguson. It was Winston’s dream come true — and Coach’s nightmare (he asked, “Who has a cat costume just lying around?” Cece: “She has four of them”). And boy was Jess committed to the bit, slurring that she was drinking a “cat-bernay, a pinot moo-arrr… meow-arrr. If I have any more of these, you’re going to have to point this little kitty in the direction of my litter box. Because I’m gonna need to find it. ‘Cause I’m gonna hafta pee.”

Everyone was playing along and howling at Nick’s corny jokes (Dotables) until Drunk and Belligerent Furguson Jess decided to take over and turn the shindig into a real roast. She went around zinging everybody until she got to Nick: “Nick calls bird ‘wind mice.’ Nick says ‘Yahtzee!’ when he climaxes. He calls turtles ‘shell beavers.’ They’re green! Beavers are brown. But you know the worst, worst, worst thing about Nick? He’s okay. He’s okay. And I am not okay.”

Nick was finally forced to admit he’d been emotionally falling apart and self-medicating to overcome how terrible he was feeling. He laughed and she cried as they talked through the wreckage of the relationship they both once thought might be it. The cherry on top of this crap sundae, from Nick: “I also can’t stop smiling because of the drugs, so my face feels crazy. It feels like I had plastic surgery.” Because Winston was still totally clueless, Jess and Nick finally admitted out loud (and with gusto): “We broke up.” Cece and Coach issued majorly over-dramatic reactions to make it seem like they didn’t know, but Winston was less concerned about being the last one to know. He was mostly appreciative of the lengths to which they’d gone to avoid ruining his day. The loftmates joined hands in a super-weird circle of solidarity and all “Ommmmm”-ed. Just after Jess wondered aloud if they should all live in a peach, Winston announced he’d be postponing the Honey Roast until tomorrow night. The hands dropped as the others unanimously shut that idea down and disbanded.

Later that night, Jess was on the couch, buried in tissues, still drinking wine, and on her third viewing of Dirty Dancing. Nick called from her room to ask, “Who wins in a fight: Swayze from Dirty Dancing or Swayze from Road House?” Jess countered, “I think To Wong Foo Swayze would win.” As friends, they bonded over all the questions they didn’t know how to answer now that their relationship had changed. Jess sighed that she’d run out of tissues, and Nick tossed her a box before saying sweetly and with a hint of pill-induced lazy tongue, “G’night, honey.” And then they joined in a chorus of “Hungry Eyes.”

What did you think, folks? Tonight’s episode really felt like a return to form in a season that’s flailed a little. While I’m not necessarily happy about the break-up (even though your feelings generally seem to be mixed), it did provide a chance for everyone to shine individually that I thought was nice. Share your take in the comments…

NEXT: The Honey Roast turns bittersweet

Notable Dotables…

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Winston: Yo, my uncle was on Cops a bunch of times. He got no residuals, though; he’s poor.

Nick: Thanks, Tran. If I’d met you in your prime during the war, that would have been glorious! But then we would have been enemies and tried to murder one another… unless we formed an alliance. You and me forming an alliance in an old-school war? That’s a fantasy… or a novel.

Schmidt: Well this just in — the dress code for Winston’s banquet is… “Optional”? It’s optional? Why would he write that. It’s gotta be a mistake, right?

Cece: And they’re going to give him a gun?

Schmidt’s through-the-door ramble…

“Jess, are you pregnant? [pause] I feel like I made it weird with the pregnancy thing, guys. Did I make it weird with the pregnancy thing? Because I really feel like in my heart that that was the wrong thing to say, especially to two women who are sitting alone in a room together. You know, I don’t know where you guys are at with your lives, but you’re certainly getting up to an age where babies are on your mind, and I didn’t want to throw that into the mix. I could see that you were emotional, Jess, when you left, and I don’t want to make you more emotional by bringing up pregnancy. And, Cece, you can probably barely spell pregnancy, and I feel terrible. [Waits a few seconds, starts to get angry] Are you frickin’ razzin’ me in there? Did I just hear a razz?! [A few minutes later…] Are you guys Frenching? Okay, say you’re Frenching, and I’ll stop knocking.”

Nick: Winston is so cute…

Everybody: How cute is he?

Nick: Teddy bears buy Winston for their kids.

Schmidt: Horrible visual!

Nick: Winston is so cute, he once met a Japanese girl named Mariko, and she started wearing him as a backpack.

Lowlights from Jess’s roast:

“What’s up, Coach. You have so many pairs of sweatpants that you… need to buy normal pants.”

“Cece, your hair is so long.” (Medically Chillaxed Nick: “You’re basically busted!”)

“Schmidt [starts drunk-giggling] your head’s so big.” (MCN: “You got a big-ass head, dude!”)

Zooey Deschanel plays lovable Jess, who is plodding through life with a good group of friends.
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  • 5
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  • 09/20/11
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