Jess must summon the courage to bring about closure with her old boyfriend, and returning roommate Winston tricks Schmidt out of the best room in the house
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New Girl
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox
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I’m really interested where this show is going to stand in tomorrow’s ratings — and even more interested in how it will fare next week. After its night-winning premiere, will New Girl show be able to keep up its momentum? Will it successfully continue trading on Zooey Deschanel’s super-cuteness without being a one-trick pony? I am a Deschanel fan, but even the extra-adorable expanded credit sequence seemed a bit twee to me. If this is the way the show is trending, I think Deschanel might literally be skipping around the country singing theme songs to fans and pouring syrup down their throats by season’s end. Then again, I kind of like syrup…

The episode centered on Jess’s reluctance to retrieve her belongings from her cheating ex Spencer. After much urging by Nick, Jess’s hand was forced when she accidentally threw a basketball into the guys’ TV set (only after two-hand bouncing the ball and singing, “Defense! Defense! Got to have the defense, wah wahhhhhh”). The only answer was to call honey-haired Spencer, who was still in possession of her TV. Long story short, in a scene awesomely foreshadowed by Blind Melon’s tap dancing Bee Girl song “No Rain,” Jess ended up driving her ex and his new girlfriend to the airport and crying Hillslevel mascara tears while they sang “Bust a Move” at the top of their lungs. Nothing will take a girl’s confidence down a peg like the dope rhymes of Young MC.

Since a pawn store heist proved impractical (see Drive for more proof to that end), this week’s Jesson — Jess lesson — was how to be a fighter and overcome her own personal kryptonite. (Then again, to anyone but Jess, Spencer is almost remarkable in how unimpressive he is, prompting Nick to remark at first glance, “That’s the wizard? He’s wearing a scrunchy,” and Schmidt to say, “I just kind of assumed he’d have a handlebar mustache.”) Still, for every moment she wavered, her guys were there to back her up — in whimsical headwear, no less. In the end, Jess proved her mettle, telling Spencer and his mellifluous hair to take a hike and proclaiming her love for her newfound friends. And so, they were back in the apartment, watching their recovered, if slightly battered, TV. I’m beginning to think television may be these kids’ cheesecake. Sign o’ the times…

NEXT: Schmidt — Love him or leave him?

There were still plenty of hackneyed bits this week, like Nick making Schmidt strike sexy poses repeatedly or Jess driving around and around Spencer’s block like so many spit takes in a 1930s screwball comedy. Perhaps more dishearteningly, Jess briefly fell into the “powerless without a boyfriend” category that, I would argue, is exactly what Deschanel is not about. She was much better when she was punch-dancing, hurling potted plants, and fighting for her JAM-boree T-shirt. And the show was at its best when it featured elements that weren’t obviously ripped from the sitcom playbook, like the emblematic douchebag jar or the moment when the guys watched Jess carrying all her things out of Spencer’s house while wearing many layers of clothes, and Nick grimaced, “She looks like Helena Bonham Carter.”

Where did you fall on the character of Schmidt at the end of the second episode? For this recapper, it’s still a toss-up between appreciating how fully fleshed-out this douchebag is and yet being fundamentally annoyed that, yes, he is a douchebag. How many Tucker Max stereotypes can you hash out? That said, Max Greenfield has done a stellar job showing Schmidt’s commitment to his own ethos, and the character definitely has had some of the funnier lines of the first two shows, such as his habit of keeping a hook-up lost-and-found (upon seeing a piece of busted-up clip-on weave: “Rosh Hashanah, oh-SIX!”). Schmidt doled out relationship advice (“Jess… you know… closure… amirite?“), was able to freely recite the complexities of jam making, and unashamedly indulged in a breakfast parfait. Not to mention he straight-up slapped Spencer. Slapped him! While wearing a hat better suited to a Harajuku girl and after proclaiming, “You know what happens? Schmidt happens.” Thumb ring, bitch! On the other hand, this is a guy who managed to reverse psychologize himself.

And what of Winston? His career as a pro basketball player in Latvia was a nice touch. And anyone who has compiled a psych-up playlist with “Save the Best for Last” on it is aces is my book. (The fact that Jess is such a dork that she had to use someone else’s psych-up mix to mentally prep herself for her confrontation with Spencer… well… it’s Jess!) He did show an early mastery of Schmidt’s easily manipulated psyche when he vied to get Schmidt out of the “big room” by scaring him the pressures of “Top Dog” status, then he gave up on the ruse right in the clutch. And, as previously stated, Schmidt did all the work in securing the “big room” back for Winston, so that particular battle was a draw.

NEXT: Just like Winston, I “Save the Best for Last”

Tonight’s notable dote-ables…

Schmidt: You consider me a sexy man, right?

Jess: I don’t know how to answer that question.

Jess: Hi Winston. I apologize for what happened before. Not cool, bad call. I’ve been talking to the guys about boundaries, so I totally get it.

Winston: Perfectly fine. No problem.

Jess: Do you have a tank top I could borrow? You look like you’re about my size.

Schmidt: You see that, man? It’s my new thumb ring. How choice is that? A little skull… It’s so nectar.

Nick: Did you just make up “nectar”?

Schmidt: No, it’s a volleyball term.

Nick: Okay, what are we watching?

Jess: I have some DVDs: Adventures in Babysitting, Prancer, Newsies, Curly Sue… [All the guys leave.] Wait, where are you guys going? Those are heartwarming films!

Schmidt (returns secretly): Curly Sue, let’s do this.

So what did you think Newbies? Was the second episode overly cute to you, or do you have a non-refundable, one-way ticket on the train to Adorable? What did you think of Lamorne Morris’ debut as Winston? Are you pro- or anti-Schmidt? Will you watch next week? What shenanigans do you want to see Jess get up to next?

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New Girl

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

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