By Lanford Beard
April 30, 2014 at 04:40 AM EDT
Adam Taylor/Fox
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Did the latest New Girl feel like the penultimate episode of a season? Nope. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. I’ve gotten some heat (not of the Winston variety) this year for being a demanding recapper. Apparently wanting forward momentum from a sitcom is too much to ask. Well, “Dance” didn’t really advance the plot, but I still found it charming. It had solid one-liners and independent, yet appropriate antics for each character. All that plus a song about eatin’ ‘nanas in the dark and plenty of dance-ready tunes. That’s enough for me! But was it enough for you? Read on…

It all started because Jess — against all wiser instincts, the limitations of the school’s budget, and any apparent interest from her students or colleagues — insisted on planning a school dance. The theme? “Love Is Forever and Ever…” I put in the ellipsis there because there were 12(!) “and Ever”s. To no one’s surprise, Jess recalled with Cece how she’d been an odd girl out at her own school dances and was using this dance to make good, pay it forward, and all that malarkey. Schmidt stumbled upon this scene and, after seeing the “Forever and Ever…” banner, pulled Jess into a death-grip hug in an attempt to assuage her obvious sadness. Like the rest of us, he knew she was trying to keep her mind off breaking up with Nick… by planning a dance themed around everlasting love. Who’s that girl? It’s Jess!

Nick was also trying to keep busy post-break-up — by doing lots of push-ups (he claimed) and eating “salads” (for the record, a Nick salad is a bunch of chunks of ham). Additionally, Nick would only be in a room with Jess if Winston was also there because Winston had an unparalleled ability to zap any room of its sexual tension. That room could be the kitchen or the loft’s “steam room” — a.k.a. their high-school-gym-style bathroom he and Schmidt had hot boxed with shower vapors (see Dotables).

Also taking the sexual tension out of any room was Coach, who was Jess’s only willing volunteer to chaperon the dance. His motto? “If they want to bang, they’re going to have to bang through me!” (And, no, that unfortunate motto didn’t get any less icky the more he said it.) Before the dance even started, though, it became abundantly clear these youths would not be doing much banging. Witness: The primary dance attendees were a bunch of giggling girls who instantly became obsessed with Winston, a high-strung tween boy named Todd who wore his best raw denim under a turquoise gingham button-down and a coordinating tie adorned with hipster mustaches (a.k.a. the boy I would have crushed on hard back in the day), some girl nicknamed Diabetic Amy, and an awkward girl named Wendy on whom Jess glommed because she related to her entirely too much. (ASIDE: Wendy, I learned after some research, was played by Mary-Charles Jones, the sister of We Bought a Zoo and Ben and Kate‘s Maggie Elizabeth Jones; turns out they have a third sister named Lillian Ellen Jones, and knowing there are three of these cherubs is very nearly too much for me to handle. I mean look at them. END OF ASIDE.)

NEXT: A lady needs help… and that’s a job for a man (or at least a job for The Dumbest Boys in School)

Before it could even begin, the dance seemed like it was already over when Jess found a bike lock on the school’s gymnasium door and watched as her colleagues bailed. As always, Jess called on the loftmates and Cece to come to her rescue. After Winston sustained a minor injury from a “manly” chest-bump with Schmidt, they headed over and got the dance off to a rollicking, One Direction-scored start. (Presumably, the bar was left abandoned and customers were free to pour their own booze willy-nilly. Where were Ben Falcone and Jon Taffer when we needed them?) Coach got in proper beast mode, handing out assignments to the roomies: Schmidt would oversee snacks since Diabetic Amy needed no more — but also no less! — than two cookies, Winston would monitor the dance floor because he was in the habit of saying, “Nobody’s gettin’ pregnant tonight — that’s what I say on all my dates,” and Nick would skulk around the parking lot and look for stragglers because, let’s face it, he wasn’t really chaperone material. In fact, he couldn’t even sprint 10 feet down the hall before he had to take a break. Ohhhhh, Nick.

As you can imagine, things went downhill pretty much immediately. The aforementioned giggling girls couldn’t resist Winston’s irrepressible heat (see Dotables) and his “cool mustache.” (It couldn’t have helped that that ultimate teen aphrodisiac “Call Me Maybe” was playing on the speakers.) Elsewhere, Schmidt got into a snit with a tween who called him a “flamer” and challenged the kid to a parking-lot foot race. Outside, Nick was slugging (spiked?) slurpees and setting off fireworks with the no-goodniks.

The ultimate problem, however, was that the power went out when someone slathered the fuse box with paste. Jess, Cece, and Coach went on a witch hunt for the perpetrator, starting with Jess’s weirdo biology-teacher-slash-banana-enthusiast colleague (Brian Posehn). When Jess’s fundamental misunderstanding of Good Cop, Bad Cop didn’t collar the Elmer’s Bandit, she was prepared to take drastic measures: “We should lock the doors — no one gets in, no one gets out, the culprit’s inside. It’s frickin’ Gosford Park!”

Luckily, Jess didn’t have to put the kids in Julian Fellowes-style lockdown because she stumbled upon Wendy setting up her next trap in the girls bathroom. Jess took pity on the little shark shirt-wearing vandal and enlisted Cece for a confidence-boosting talk about how boys are the dumbest (and aren’t they?!). Sure, Jess kind of slut-shamed Cece along the way, and, sure, it was clear she was talking about her own relationship failings and not Wendy’s adolescent angst, but the message was no less well-intended.

Meanwhile, everything came to a head outside as Schmidt’s race, Nick’s shopping cart hijacking, and Winston fleeing his mob of admirers converged in the most absurd scene ever. The best single moment of all this mayhem was Schmidt calling himself “the Hebrew Cheetah,” sporadically yelling “FloJo!” as he ran, and diving for the finish line like this unevenly matched race was the damn Olympics. Coach happened upon this display of tomfoolery and snatched out his whistle out to shame his loftmates. And boy did he shame ’em good: “A dog would be better [at chaperoning] than you. A plant wearing underwear would be better than you. Ray Charles’ ghost would be better than you! What kind of men are you?”

They were the kind of men who freestyle rapped, it turns out. While Cece beat-boxed, the self-proclaimed Dumbest Boys in School (not Sweet Surrender, as Schmidt had wanted) spit out sick rhymes. And by “sick” I mean they were so bad you might vomit (see the full lyrics in Dotables, then watch EW’s exclusive video of the scene at your own risk!). Schmidt stepped up to the mic first, psyching himself up with four simple words: “Rap battle! 8 Mile!” His rhyme was mostly about wearing teal, which inspired a surprising amount of audience enthusiasm. Next, Nick tried to shore up Chicago pride… before realizing he was not, in fact, in Chicago and giving up entirely. Finally, Winston went to the Winston place and basically threatened to murder the kids. A tendency toward child homicide: A good trait in an aspiring LAPD cop.

Ultimately, raw denim connoisseur Todd saved the day by pulling out a boombox to play Michael Franti & SpearHead’s “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like).” Everyone hit the dance floor, where Schmidt shooed one of the teen hooligans away from Cece and got his hilarious groove on. Meanwhile, Jess and Nick edged closer to each other and had their first normal moment together — complete with shimmying! — since the break-up. The group togetherness, plus a hint of chemistry between Jess and Nick, felt a bit like a callback to the Chicken Dance in episode 3, no? What are the odds next week’s finale starts with at least two of these four in bed together?

NEXT: “Jess the Third-Hottest White Teacher”

Notable Dotables…

Winston: I got hug number two locked and loaded — soft or hard, it’s up to you.

Schmidt: We’re men. We’ve felt pain, we’ve survived it. Look at me, I’m watching Cece drool over some 20-year-old. How could she be interested in a boy when you could have these ripe berries. [Lifts towel] Look at these, Nick.

Nick: Put your towel down.

Winston [walks in]: Oh God, I need a schvitz. [Pauses, sniffs] Why does my sweat smell like asparagus?

Schmidt: He does take all the sexual tension out of a room.

Winston: Man, I heat up every room I walk into it. Put me next to a dozen eggs… they hatchin’. You know why? Because I got the heat of a mother hen.

Nick [to Schmidt]: There was no sexual tension in here before he got here.

Gary the Janitor: You call me “Gary the Janitor” as if me being a janitor is my whole identity. It’s like somebody calling you “Jess the Third-Hottest White Teacher.”

Schmidt: We all think that you’re an idiot for dating the 14-year-old.

Cece: He’s 20.

Schmidt: That means he was 7 when Good Will Hunting came out. Seven, Cece. Good Will Hunting.

Winston: Hey, you know what, let me go, let me go, let me go — Cece’s boyfriend is so young that [pause… pause… pause] okay, come back to me.

Cece: Buster is more of a man than all of you, okay? He’s been to, like, 40 countries. He builds boats. He use to train snakes with his uncle.

Schmidt: Earning a respectable wage. Wearing a proper-hanging pair of slacks. Ordering sushi like a sick-ass boss. These things a man maketh.

Cece: So stupid stuff that you do. I know that technically you guys are men, but all you do is hang out with each other like you’re 12.

Nick: What do you know? You’re just a stupid girl!

Coach [to the loftmate guys]: Listen up, chaperones! You will obey all of my instructions. This means everything to Jess. Your asses belong to me now. Which means I currently have four asses — the three of yours! And mine!

Winston: I think we’re capable of handling a bunch of  prepubescent kids.

Coach: Do you think you are tough, Winston? You have no idea what these little bastards are capable of. I mean, I love ’em. I love ’em with all of my heart. But they will [breaks up] hurt your feelings sometimes.

Schmidt: He’s right. I remember “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but…” not if you’re a fat kid with a calcium deficiency.

Schmidt: All right, kids, let’s use the serving tongs — this isn’t Appalachia.

The guys “rapping”…

Schmidt:

I don’t wear indigo, I don’t wear teal,

You better look out, you know that’s why that right that’s ’cause Schmidt is for real!

Mmmmmm…

I take that back, I actually do wear teal

Sometimes…

When I say “Sometimes,” you say “Teal” —

Sometimes! (Teal!)

Sometimes! (Teal!)

Sometimes! (Teal!)

Mic drop!

Nick:

What’s up, what’s up what’s up? Anybody here from Chicago? Chicago, Illinois? City of big shoulders, big dreams! [Blank stares from the kids] That wouldn’t make sense, you guys go to school here, you’re just kids, so you’re all from here. Somebody else go!

Winston:

I’m gonna be a cop, straight walkin’ the beat,

Role model, out on the street.

Unless I get assigned to a desk —

Which is also vital

Because when the paperwork slides that’s how you get a mistrial.

When I say “Mis-,” you say “-trial” —

“Mis-!” [less enthusiastic] “-trial.”

I said “When I say ‘Mis-,’ you say ‘-trial’!”

“Mis”– unless you tryin‘ to die!

You know who you are….

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