Schmidt's 29th birthday would have quite literally been a train wreck... if there had been a train involved. Alas, it's only a school bus. Also, Nick gets a new girlfriend with anger issues

By Lanford Beard
Updated January 18, 2012 at 07:30 AM EST
Ray Mickshaw/Fox

I strongly considered naming this recap “Crash Fest Dummies,” but, at the end of the day, who doesn’t prefer a good Jefferson Starship reference? I certainly know Schmidt does. So, welcome back, Newbies! Consider the midseason premiere a soothing balm to your still smarting Santa Lap. We’re only in season 1, and yet we’ve already seen so many glorious moments of douchery! The episode takes the form of a Memento-style puzzler in its own New Girl-ish way as the roommates insist Schmidt contribute $50 to the Douchebag Jar. He thinks it’s a high amount, but they insist his latest and greatest display merits it. I’ll leave you in suspense as to what Schmidt could possibly have done that would top “I just want to get my arm stuck down there 127 Hours-style,” but let’s just start with that context: It all happened at Schmidt’s 29th birthday…

Schmidt was freaking out because his party bus fell through (“Apparently my business isn’t as important as Frankie Muniz…’s!”). In addition to losing his love grotto and boob-shaped steering wheel (“you honk the nipple”), Schmidt was particularly traumatized because he was worried what to tell his ultra-d-bag friend (and former college suitemate) Benjamin. The scene of them meeting is straight out of Can’t Hardly Wait, with Benjamin starring as Kenny Fisher and Schmidt playing the role of William Lichter. Only, unlike William Lichter, it’s taken Schmidt far longer to realize that he owes nothing to his high school superior. He tells Jess, “If not for Benjamin, I never would have become a Los Angeles baller.” And then, for emphasis, “Holla.”

Seeing Schmidt curled up on his bed like a tween girl stuck somewhere between PMS and the realization that Justin Bieber might never leave Selena Gomez for her, Jess took it upon herself to organize the event. After booking a stripper, she sought drugs from the desk of her school principal (who turns out to be a really cheap date). Most significantly, though, she put together an actual party bus — emphasis on the “bus” because it was a wheels-going-round-and-round, canary yellow literal diesel chugger, though Jess had outfitted it with a range of condom sizes, plus kosher yogurt and honey (or, as Schmidt calls it, “kosher yog”). There is a keg in a Bed Bath & Beyond trash can and an array of crash helmets. So, you know, it’s just like every other party bus you might have ever experienced.

NEXT: Putting the “bus” in busted

When Benjamin arrived at party, it turned out he was even more of a jerk than anyone would have guessed, including but not limited to forcing Schmidt to sing, “We built this Schmidt-y! We built this Schmidt-y on Tootsie Rolls!” as a reminder that he used to be fatty-fatty-fat-fat. Schmidt brushes it off as “hilari,” but it clearly gets under his surprisingly un-saggy skin. Adding insult to injury, the stripper Jess hired (to swing around the bus’s stability poll for “$50 worth of semi-nudity”) was an unattractive middle-aged guy who noted the nip in the air and declared, “It’s not a good time to start turtlin’.” Not only would Jess not get to check out her stripper’s jugs in advance (for he had none), but Schmidt was thisclose to being subjected to “wet towel tricks.” Having just learned the meaning of “donkey punch,” I don’t even want to go there. In the end, Jess paid him to lead hymns in his church baritone and not reveal his… ummm… turtle head.

Later in the night, Benjamin saw how amenable Jess was to the dubious concept of Bro Juice (which Nick invented, by the way) and decided he would help himself… to sex. Schmidt watched, wild with discomfort, as they returned to the party bus and Benjamin told Jess, “Why don’t you ditch that zero [Schmidt] and get with the hero? … The hero’s my penis.” Tom Haverford, you have met your match. Needless to say, Jess was not into it. More to the point, though, Schmidt finally found his moment to stand up to his friend. When it became clear he needed back-up, Winston and Nick puffed out their chests and stepped to the plate for Schmidt. We had officially returned to the O.G. New Girl format: Big event + group solidarity segment = episode. If the formula ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

NEXT: Nick comes out to play, and Schmidt strikes out

Meanwhile, Nick started dating a lawyer named Julia. A lawyer who was good enough for him to don his jury duty pants, no less. (And she is played by none other than Lizzy Caplan! Full disclosure: As much as I loves me some True Blood and some Party Down, she will never be anyone other than Janis Ian to me: “You smell like a baby prostitute.” Classic!) When Nick wasn’t lying to her to save himself the embarrassment of revealing his actual life, they had a stream of awkward flirtation that was pretty much going nowhere — including but not limited to a Bill Cosby imitation-off and Nick getting wasted on Bro Juice. Of course all of his lies are exposed, but then the most wonderful and unthinkable event occurred: Seeing Benjamin’s horrid behavior and the escalating confrontation, Julia told the guys, “Let me talk to him. I’m a lawyer.” Then she wailed on him! It was no “erotic rope course,” but if this is what’s on offer, Jess and Nick can wait. For Nick’s part, despite Julia’s admission that she attends court-ordered anger management classes and takes karate lessons to “get more Zen,” he was totally into it.

Did I mention that Julia’s violent outburst caused the bus to crash? No? Because that happened. As the gang all waited to be picked up by cabs, Schmidt had one too many Pauly D-meets-frat-boy-style moments, yelling out “Twenty-nah-een-uh!” And then… self-awareness. Even Jess, not known for being understated (or, let’s face it, cool in any way whatsoever), told him to tone it down. Just as Schmidt was seeming to grow and learn, the moment was gone. He drastically misread her gestures of friendship and leaned in for a kiss. Jess recoiled — not in a judgmental, grossed-out way but in a way that made it clear they would never be more than plantonic. (I have to admit, I know a Jess-Schmidt hook-up would make zero sense narratively, but the Max Greenfield fan in me would have tolerated it for at least half an episode just because Max = greatest. Go ahead and skewer me.) Anywho, that kiss-miss was the impetus for the entire conceit of the episode, a.k.a. Schmidt’s greatest Douchebag Jar hits. Apparently this was the greatest of them all. With all the roommates and Julia watching, Schmidt plunked down his first full $50 bill into the jar, then rebelliously shouted, “Twenty-nah-een-uh!”

NEXT: When it comes to stripping, there are characters and there are personas. Still, 90% of the time, you’re dancing for dudes

Notable dotables:

Schmidt: I’m not okay, Jess. I had to cancel my birthday party. I can feel my ‘It’ factor going away. And what am I going to tell Benjamin?

Jess: Why are you so worried about Benjamin? He’s your friend.

Schmidt: We have a very weird, girl-style friendship where we kind of hate each other. We’re bronemies. He’s my fremesis.

Jess: I’ve got it! We are going to throw Schmidt a birthday party. [The guys shake their heads.] Yes! Because it’s his 29th birthday, and we care.

Nick: Jess, Schmidt’s world is different than ours. They speak a different language. They shorten every word to one syllable. Okay? He once called an oven an “ovs.” He calls an airport “airp.”

Winston: They call ketchup “ketch.”

Nick: Last month he went to a party called “Bros Before Hos… on the Moon.” What does that even mean? And the dress code was Yacht Flair!

Winston: He has a friend who legally changed his middle name to “Doin’it.” Just one word — Doinit.

Nick: You are not emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepared to throw these d-bags a party.

Jess: Hi, yes! I’d like to order a last-minute stripper. Oh, ummm… preferably of Asian heritage, with a heart of gold and… a… crotch of gold. Mmmhmmm, yeah, I’ll hold.

Schmidt [as Jess leads him out to the party bus]: Jess, what are you doing? I’m making an egg yellows omelet. The shallots and Gouda are gonna congeal!

Nick: They’re my friends, you can tease them. I tease them all the time.

Julia: Mmmhmmm…

Nick: Like, Jess is a total nut. And Winston [who walks up behind Nick at this very moment] is, like, this competitive maniac who loves Sister Sister, and he’s, like, afraid of thunder. I’m the voice of reas–

Julia: He’s behind you.

Nick: Right now he is? And he’s also one of my best friends.

Schmidt-isms: A value-based breakdown…

“Someone’s personalized condoms just came in the mail!” – $20 in the Douchebag Jar

“Winston, did you know that NWA didn’t stand for ‘Never Walk Alone’?” – $30

Schmidt walks into the apartment wearing a Pride-ready black tank top and a conductor hat. – Priceless.

Schmidt: What do you pull down a year in the game?

Stripper: Ever since I started doing full frontal, I pull $7k a year, easy. Why? Are you interested in the life?

Schmidt: Me? A male stripper? You’re too kind… But, you know, theoretically, if I were to get into the game… what are women looking for, you know, in the gator department? Or is it just movin’ so fast that it doesn’t really matter?

Stripper: Man, it’s all about storytelling — takin’ ’em on a journey. Let me ask you some basics. When you thrust, what’s your range of motion, side to side?

Schmidt: A little left, five right.

Stripper: Your testicles, are they more or less symmetrical?

Schmidt: Size, yes. Location…

Stripper: What about your persona?

Schmidt: What, like a fireman or a cop?

Stripper: I didn’t ask for your character. Your persona. I’m a wolf-hawk, what are you?

Schmidt: Luxury… dessert… I’m a warrior poet, man!

Stripper: That’s it! I’ve got a number for you to call.

Schmidt: You ever hook up with the ladies?

Stripper: It’s ladies like one out of 10 times — at most.

Schmidt: You’re dancing for dudes?

Julia: Everyone’s got embarrassing stuff. Just don’t lie to me about stuff, and we’ll be fine.

Nick: Fine. When I work out — which isn’t often — I listen to Huey Lewis because it pumps me up — not ironically. Wanna hear something else?

Julia: Uh huh.

Nick: I don’t believe dinosaurs existed. I’ve seen the science, I don’t believe it. Wanna hear something else?

Julia: No, I think I’m good.

Benjamin: Schmidt, your party’s slugs, man. This party is the worst.

Winston: No, man. This part is bad-ass. Don’t act like I didn’t see you over there eating all the shark… uh, the shark–

Schmidt: Charcuterie.

Schmidt-isms: Lightning Round!

“Ooooh, Jess. I just found a Groupon for hypnosis lessons. Think what we can do with that… sex stuff!”

“Guys, has anyone seen my good pea coat?”

“Have you seen my shark skin laptop sleeve?”

“Darn it! Has anyone seen my croquet cleats?”

“Hey Jess [lifting up expensive watch], have you seen my other timepiece?”

“Nick, I came up with the best name for an uncircumcised penis: Bishop in a Turtleneck!”

“Damn it! I can’t find my driving moccasins anywhere!” [Thanks to the commenters for recovering this one from the black hole of my DVR’s cutoff time!]

What did you think, Newbies. Were you happy with the midseason premiere? I would argue that, generally speaking, the best episodes are Schmidt-centric — agree or disagree? Were you maybe a little bit intrigued by the Jess-Schmidt almost moment, or did it skeeve you out? Do you like Lizzy Caplan as Julia? What are you excited to see this spring on New Girl?

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