When a minor injury brings on a cancer scare, the roommates fear for Nick's life

By Lanford Beard
Updated March 07, 2012 at 05:30 AM EST
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox
S1 E15

That is what would be on Lil’ Nicky’s tombstone, if Schmidt had his say. As Nick faced a health scare, the gang pondered the big questions: What is the meaning of life? How can we come to terms with our own mortality? How many ears does Daniel Boone have? You’ll get the answer to that one in the quotables. The rest you’ll have to figure out yourself. This was a surprisingly tender, poignant episode, and I am not ashamed to admit I got a little misty at the end. They were tears that could only be healed by laughter — or heavy-duty menstrual meds. And Nick got some of those tonight. But how?

It all began when the whole gang played flag football (Schmidt in spandex capris, mind you) and Jess clobbered Nick. When America’s youngest old man refused to seek treatment because he didn’t have insurance, Jess insisted on taking Nick to her doctor. And by “doctor,” I mean OB-GYN. Nick tried to run out the door, but he literally couldn’t stand up, so Jess told him to suck up his male vagina-fear and handed him a Lucky magazine to peruse.

Before the night’s big drama could begin, another roommate was experiencing trauma. After Nick was blinded by pain and careened into Winston’s car (though the mechanic refused to classify it as such), Winston was told he’d be losing his wheels. (Nick silver-lined the collision: “Actually I think I undid a dent there.”) The vehicle in question appeared to be a 1992 Ford Explorer that had never been washed, with a front bumper held up by seatbelts or something equally ridiculous and a rear window covered entirely with duct tape. More salient details: Schmidt did an impression of its morning noises that sounded like a deranged rooster, it was an illegal college recruitment gift, and Winston starts it the old-fashioned way — with a paper clip.

NEXT: The unique consolatory powers of Daffy Duck, Lynyrd Skynrd, and freestyle rap

Nick and Jess moved into the exam room, where Nick lay down prone and groaned gutturally as Sadie (Jess’s lesbian gynecologist friend, a.k.a. Schmidt’s hero) unofficially diagnosed his bruised spine and gave him pills for baby-induced back aches and severe menstrual cramps. All would have been well, except Sadie noticed a growth on Nick’s neck when he swallowed and scheduled him for an ultrasound. At this point, it seemed fairly certain Jess would have Nick in a ribbon hat and a flouncy skirt by the end of the episode, which I’m sure Remy wouldn’t mind!

Jess tried to console an obviously anxious Nick with physical comedy (knocking a plastic baby model out of its womb) and a godawful Daffy Duck impression, but it couldn’t dislodge his growing fear he might be dying. He reached the anger stage of grief when all three of his roommates came to the bar to stare creepily at his “beautiful soul” and, in Schmidt’s case, Fredo kiss him. While the roomies Internet-diagnosed Nick with thyroid cancer, he slid right to acceptance thanks to some lady pills that made him “warm in [his] uterus.” The roommates, however, were not yet to acceptance as they all began to weep uncontrollably at the bar. You guys, that’s for later in the night when Schmidt puts Sarah McLachlan on the jukebox!

Okay, it wasn’t Sarah McLachlan. It was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” but I was close. Either way, Nick was mega-bummed when Jess showed him her iPhone with a red skull-and-bones and “DEATH” warning plastered across it. Schmidt, of course, leveraged his dejection to drop his face on CeCe’s boobs. It wasn’t all fringe benefits, though. After Jess tried to cheer Nick up with a joke, he drunkenly accused her, “You don’t know how to be real,” and forbid her from speaking at his hypothetical funeral. From the flashback of Winston summoning his inner Chris Rock at another friend’s funeral — not too mention his terrible, terrible singing — it seemed he wouldn’t be either.

As the kids became progressively drunker, Winston’s impromptu “Sad Song” got them clapping and rapping along. CeCe at first snarked, “It is so weird being sober right now,” but after 30 seconds, she couldn’t fight the rhymes. Jess, still upset at Nick’s indictment, killed the flow on a pretty outstanding freestyle by deadpanning, “Nick Miller, Nick Miller, never does anything.” And Jess just got real, yo. She cajoled him into admitting his paralyzing fear of the unknown: “If everybody went to the beach and jumped in the water, well I’m the guy that’s guarding the wallets.”

NEXT: Did somebody say beach trip?

Inspired by Nick’s de facto bucket list, the gang got one last blast out of Winston’s “car” (more on that later). Jess guarded Nick’s sandwich bag holding his credit cards (he didn’t have a wallet) as Nick stripped down and took a plunge into the shiver-inducing Pacific. Things were limitless for one glorious moment, then just like his dangle, Nick’s hopes shrunk to almost nothing. This day had not turned out as Nick planned, and now he was facing down his own mortality.

Count on Schmidt to keep things douchey: “I don’t think this is the right time to bring this up, you guys, but does anyone else think Nick could stand to lose five to seven pounds?” His next thought, directed to CeCe: “When you stand up, there is going to be, like, a perfect imprint of your butt in the sand.” I think that officially worth more than $50 in the jar. On the bright side, it inspired CeCe to reveal she lost her father at age 12, and they grew closer for just a moment. Then Schmidt brought it back, saying, “I had a cat that died. He was a big cat — I mean human-size.” CeCe couldn’t help but laugh at that one.

Jess fell back into nurturing mode, sitting beside Nick, who admitted that he was glad she came into his life. Then he said, “I’m not going to remember any of this in the morning?” Jess brought back out her Daffy Duck impression: “Moooost thertainly not!” The gang drifted off to sleep on the sand, and Nick watched the sunrise before waking everyone up. They headed to Winston’s car, Schmidt pausing to observe CeCe’s beautiful sand bum, and drove back home in silence… well, except for the sound of Winston’s rear bumper falling off the car and rattling behind them.

Then the ultrasound was upon them. After a tense wait, Schmidt asked peevishly, “How long does it take to find if somebody has cancer?” Nick finally returned and revealed he was okay. He was met by another Fredo-kiss from Schmidt and the news that his roommates had paid for his ultrasound for him. They were happy to do it on the condition he got a real wallet. Schmidt: “I have tons of wallet chains that you can borrow.”

They left the hospital and loaded into Winston’s car. Nick wondered what happened the night before. Jess lied, “Nothing.” That’s a true friend. And though Nick Miller, Nick Miller had survived this thriller, Winston’s car did not. They walked home that day. And it was the best walk of their lives for they were truly living.

NEXT: Does L.A. have an 8 Mile? They do now!

Notable dotables:

Jess: Are you sure you’re okay? You’re walking like a Disney witch, let me take you to a doctor.

Nick: I don’t go to doctors. I don’t have insurance.

Schmidt: Nick, you need to see a doctor if only to make sure that your junk is clean.

Nick [freaked out by the OB-GYN office]: I don’t have a vagina!

Lady in Waiting Room: You can take mine!

Jess: I heard that sister.

Lady in Waiting Room: True dat!

Sadie: Jess tackled a girl I was dating once.

Jess: Oh yeah. She tried to steal my overalls.

Five reasons Nick can’t go to the doctor

“I’ve got some writing I gotta do. The truth is, with working out… I got some people to see… so I just can’t make it — I lost a stamp. It sounds worse than it is, and I planned on looking for it. One of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles was to get closer to whales so I could record them. I haven’t gotten around to it because where we live is actually way farther from the ocean than I expected.”

Schmidt: [Nick might have cancer] because he refuses to wear a bluetooth, you know that. I gave one to him for his birthday, too. He just laughed in my face and give it back to me for Hanukkah.

Winston: According to this website, it could be a colloid nodule… but that’s most common in Golden Retrievers.

CeCe: Are you using your best friend’s medical crisis to feel my boobs with your face?

Schmidt: Why isn’t the whole world making love all at the same time?!

Jess: How many ears does Daniel Boone have? He’s got a left ear, a right ear, and front-ier!

Nick [laughing]: You don’t get to speak at my funeral.

Schmidt’s “rap” for Nick

Nick Miller, Nick Miller

From the streets of Chicago

‘Cause players play

Like they do, like they did

‘Cause the baller’s ball

In the hood

‘Cause he’s Chi-town, hustle

As the people of Chicago

Represent him

‘Cause the players don’t play

And the player’s in the city

When the drinks really kicked in…

Nick: Nick Miller, Nick Miller / He’s a stone-cold killer / Likes the taste of vanilla

CeCe: Nick Miller, Nick Miller / He’s the illest of the ill / He pours 100 drinks / And none have ever spilled

Winston: Plus he’s super-high / On a bunch of pain pills

Schmidt: His favorite movie is The Big Chill

CeCe: He’s got a hairy chest / ‘Cause he eats a balanced meal

Schmidt: Kick the mad flavor in his ear! ‘Cause the ice in my glass represents the tears from my eyes. I love you, dawg! Nick Miller, Nick Miller / Yo, streets of Chicago / Rough and tumble love / You my heart!

Jess: What did you want to do? Isn’t there something you wanted to accomplish?

Nick: I have done things! I wrote half a book about zombies.

Receptionist: Fill these out. I’m going to need a copy of your health insurance.

Nick: I’m going to be paying with cash actually. It’s a mixture of paper money and change. I do have a check that’s postdated. There’s a 60-40 shot that’s going to clear. I hope that’s good!

What did you think, Newbies? Did you come dangerously close to pulling out the tissues tonight? Would you ever have imagined New Girl could tug at the heart strings like this? Did you like the chance of pace?

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

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