Nick's freak-out over moving with Caroline makes for roommate bonding in the desert, a coyote confrontation, a fight-or-flight reaction from Winston, and a turning point for Schmidt and Cece
New Girl
Credit: Patrick McElhenney/Fox
S1 E24
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As I’m sure you gathered last week, I was as anti-Nick moving out as any one of you, but I have to admit that this story arc brought not only a Remy sighting(!)… not only an excellent momentary replacement roommate in the form of That Guy from All the Movies (And Reno 911!) Thomas Lennon… but also what I would argue was the best New Girl episode yet. It was cohesive, funny, touching, and chockablock with ’90s songs! Get out your tissues and brace your sides, Newbies. This one was a keeper.

We picked up where we left off: Nick was discussing his defection with the roommates. And it was a tough crowd. Even Schmidt had joined Jess in opposing Nick’s move. He was particularly virulent as he rejected — nay, hurled! — the cookies Caroline had baked as a peace offering. (To be fair, they were carob chip cookies, a.k.a. “hippy chocolate.” Uncool, Caroline, uncool.) Jess summed up the underlying problem best: “You’re making a huge, life-ruining mistake by moving in with a woman who turned you into an agoraphobic, turtle-faced borderline alcoholic.” That said, no one would miss Nick’s DIY handymannery, particularly a hammer-wielding ventriloquist’s dummy (who looked like Nick in 40 years, if you ask me) he had positioned next to the loft’s mouse hole. (Jess: “He’s not fooling anyone. Just because he’s a snappy dresser, you think the mice don’t see the hammer? Mice come from all over the building to laugh.”)

Nick wouldn’t back down, so it was time to find a new roomie. Predictably, Winston and Schmidt were prepared to dedicate as much time to selecting a New Guy as Coach and Schmidt did in picking the New Girl. Enter Neil (Lennon), the recently divorced HR drone who had to lay off himself and who was “kind of a troubadour”… definitely a crazypants. Jess hypocritically was the only roommate to fight Neil’s acceptance tooth and nail, and I’m sure many of you will agree her reluctance was more about her own bubbling-up feelings for Nick than about Neil himself. Which is not to say Neil wasn’t fairly ridiculous as a human being. Oh yes, my friend, he was ridiculous. Anyhow, in honor of Jess’s resistance (and a classic Schmidt quote), I nearly named this recap “Pounding the Drum of War.” Other strong contenders included “A Jew in the Desert,” “Goggles McHardbody,” and “I Don’t Want Your Dirty Lolli,” but we’ll get to those later. Long story short, the roommates pointed out that Jess might never have been allowed in if they’d known about her kooky behavior (playing the triangle to alert the roommates when she was in the bathroom, for example), and so she was overruled, and Neil was in!

Speaking of which, Neil had a special moving day song: “I like to move in, move in — MOVE IN!” Ironically, Jess didn’t care for a musically inclined roommate. (Speaking of which, when did Jess stop singing? Am I the only one who misses it?) Cece was equally dubious: “I rode up in the elevator with that guy, and something growled in that box.”

NEXT: Schmidt’s recovery doesn’t go as planned

Meanwhile, it was time for Schmidt’s doctor to remove the bandages from Schmidt’s broken penis. He was thrilled that his little “Washington Monument [was] ready to serve this great nation again.” (Two Washington shout-outs last week and now another? What’s with the obsession, New Girl writers?) Lest ye think the gratuitous metaphors were all tapped out, Schmidt added, “It’s time to make this horse into a unicorn!” Alas, by the time he visited Cece at a modeling gig, there had been some sort of swelling and/or gangrene development underneath his dressings. (The exact medical issue wasn’t explained directly, and for that I am thankful.) Instead of sexual freedom, Schmidt was trapped in a penile prison made of plaster.

On the upside, his new cast was so constricting that he was unable to rise to any occasion, so to speak (even Cece whispering “fresh, pressed linens” into his ear), which relieved a great deal of pain. Witness: Cece’s model shoot. Thanks to Schmidt’s “swaddled baby,” he did not let out a single yelp. But in the absence of physical pain, he discovered his emotional Achilles’ heel. As he watched Cece straddle a missile and get felt up by a male model (the aforementioned “Goggles McHardbody”), Schmidt became deeply insecure — not to mention vigilantly anti-military: “What is this? Am I supposed to want to buy a missile? Just pounding the drum of war! Did no one listen to Eisenhower?”

Those feelings unresolved, he and Winston helped Nick move to his new apartment. Somewhere between debating eggshell versus soft mint walls and bragging about his bay windows (“I’m going to curl under those like a damn cat!”), Nick had a sudden, reason-obliterating panic attack. He drove past his building and veered the moving van onto the nearest highway. Almost 150 miles later, things only got worse when the guys tried to talk sense into Nick, who panicked and threw the keys into the distance. They called Jess, who proved she’s more like Nick than she thought in many ways. First, she asked if his new apartment smelled “like new paint and compromise.” Then, after she arrived with Cece and Nick had come to his senses, she hurled her own keys into the desert ravine.

NEXT: That’s what I call the ’90s!

Schmidt wasn’t particularly happy about the marooning (“There’s fire ants everywhere!”), but it was most troubling for Winston. It was revealed early in the episode that he was afraid of the dark. Winston claimed he was afraid for Schmidt because Schmidt was “a Jew in the desert,” who might be prone to wandering (ha!), but it was really self-preservation. He warned Jess gravely, “You never want to lose a race against the night.” (Note: How is this not a song, book, memoir, or all of the above?) And how can you blame him? In a potential werewolf situation, as Winston suspected it might be, the one with the “thick thighs [and] fat ass” is usually the first to go.

My stress for Winston mostly subsided, though, when Jess uncovered a mix tape made by 14-year-old Nick that basically encapsulated my youth. We’re talking “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “How Bizarre,” and “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.” Tipsy on stolen beer (clearly Nick wasn’t leaving without his Heisler), the roommates danced in the dark and had the most fun they’d had in quite a while.

There was one hiccup: Schmidt looked on Cece’s phone and found a flirty text from Goggles. After the dance party, he started mainlining beef jerky from the insecurity. Jess noticed, and he confessed he thought he’d never be good enough for Cece. “I’m going to have to White Fang her,” he said. Jess hilariously responded, “Schmidt, come on! Look, I try not to judge what you guys do….” Schmidt explained that he was not talking about a sexual position but rather a Jack London novel that taught him love sometimes means setting someone free (“even if it’s just a woof” — Schmidt parlance for “wolf”).

Schmidt didn’t need to throw stones at Cece to drive her away. Instead, his terse “This isn’t working out” nearly lost her. Then, Schmidt happened, and his over-the-top kiss-off (“Scram! Get outta here!”) tipped her off. Cece knew Schmidt well enough to realize he was acting out of self-doubt. Well, that and the fact that White Fang was the only book on his Kindle. (Schmidt: “I have more than one book on my Kindle! I have a subscription to Cricket… and a lot of .pdfs!”) Unfortunately, Schmidt confessed he’d seen her phone, which made Cece nervous that he didn’t trust her. Schmidt blurted out, “How am I supposed to trust you, Cece? You slept with me! I mean, that doesn’t say much about your taste in men.” A single tear ran down Cece’s face. It was the meanest thing Schmidt had ever said.

Next: Cartoon confrontation 101

Jess tracked down Nick, who was searching in the pitch black ravine for his keys. It was a futile task, made even more challenging when a coyote approached. In a moment seemingly tailor-made for “Suppress the Jess,” it was actually Jess’s unflinching weirdness that saved them. She Road Runner meep meep-ed at their animal aggressor before tossing up her fur-lined hoodie and charging at it. Somehow, the insane gambit worked, and the coyote fled. More importantly, though, the struggle to keep Jess quiet and the subsequent celebration moment offered up several almost-kiss moments (and one kind of hokey “because I met you” exchange — agree or disagree?). All the coyote-scaring ruckus also resulted in Winston flipping out and running away for the night. To where? I don’t know. But Lamorne Morris was awesome.

Winston returned the next morning, with a self-fashioned head wrap embellished with desert branches and a warning to the others: “Don’t touch me. There’s pee everywhere.” Regardless, he had overcome his greatest fear! Indeed, they had all overcome something. Jess, her incredibly rapid attachment to Nick. Nick, his adulthood-induced panic attack. And Schmidt and Cece? Well, there’s was a hurdle yet to overcome, but I have every confidence that those two will make it. The writing’s on the sky.

Back to Jess, who stepped away from the group to reveal that she had never actually thrown her keys out in the first place. She clunkily pretended to “find” them in the dirt, and everyone was so happy to escape the arid desert that they didn’t question her. The roomies arrived at Nick’s new place and said their goodbyes. In the guys’ case, this meant a lot of shoulder punches, though Schmidt took one last Fredo kiss. For Jess, it meant taking a cue from Schmidt: “When you care about somebody, you do what’s best for them, even if it sucks for you.” She stopped fighting and said goodbye to Nick.

That night, the roommates set about making their peace with the Nick-sized hole in their hearts and returning to their normal lives: Winston went to sleep in the sexually charged zero-gravity tea ceremony room, Schmidt read $uccess magazine, and Jess padded around in her pajamas. She looked out her window and saw Nick’s moving van below. Then a familiar voice came from inside the apartment. It was 14-year-old Nick introducing AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” Jess opened her door and found Nick (looking kind of smoldering, no?) in his own threshold. No big, long talk was necessary. She told him, “Welcome back, you clown,” and they closed their doors. Individually — but also as a group — the roommates began to dance: Jess did the shopping cart and the chicken dance, Nick injured himself in a herky, Schmidt did back flips onto his bed, and Winston banged on the wall and told Nick to knock it off. I am not ashamed to admit this is the moment at which I maybe sort of began to cry. It was a perfect encapsulation of the show, of each character and his/her own unique, important part of the greater whole. Oh yeah, and then there was Neil. He sat on the couch with his growling box.

NEXT: Dolla bills in the dotables, y’all

Notable dotables:

Winston: What am I going to do with all the extra money I have now that I don’t have to cover for you. Maybe I’ll buy a city!

Schmidt: Oh, and you can open a mall and call it Winston’s Corners!

Jess: You guys are just going to sit here and let this happen?

Winston: The guy obviously knows what he wants.

Nick: I do.

Schmidt: When Nick leaves, I’m going to call a plumber and just throw cash at him while he works. Fifties! Hunnits, hunnits, hunnits!

Winston: Neil, tell us about yourself. Anything we should know… besides the fact that you responded to our Craigslist ad with a fax?

Neil: My name’s Neil. I’m just coming out of a pretty hairy divorce. I am in human resources… well, I used to be. I had the unique experience of having to let myself go. I did not take it well.

Jess: Let me ask you a question.

Neil: I would love for you to save your questions until the end.

Jess: Are you going to a wuss about things like crabs and bed bugs?

Neil: Like crabs from Maine?

Jess: I hope you like feminist rants because that’s kind of my thing.

Nick: Neil, she’s just saying this to scare you!

Jess [hisses several times]: I’m a cutter.

Nick [upon moving out]: So that’s it. I took my fair share of rubber bands, so I don’t want to hear about it. In my room, there’s a guinea pig that I said I would bury… so please deal with it.

Schmidt: There’s a corpse in your room?

Cece: Is Schmidt here?

Jess: No, he’s helping Nick move, but Neil is. You want to do a sex-only thing with him?

Cece: What happened at the shoot? You kind of left before I had a chance to say goodbye.

Schmidt: Good stuff… sure. It was hard to tell where you stopped and Goggles McHardbody began.

Cece: That’s my job. Gino is just some guy I see around the office, except for in my office, they rub us down with baby oil before we start.

Schmidt: Yeah, I get that. Look, your business is selling sex… you’re a sex worker.

Cece [under her breath]: You’re an idiot. [walks away]

Jess: What’s wrong with you? You’re stress-eating meat. How many have you had?

Schmidt: Three.

Jess: That’s a lot of pig parts.

Schmidt: We need to talk.

Cece: This isn’t another one of those “Merlot is the whore of the vineyard” talks, is it?

Jess: Wow. Look how pronounced Nick’s couch-hole got. All this time, we thought he was just sitting here, drinking beer and complaining. He was making something.

So that was it, Newbies. Was this the best New Girl yet? Did you get a little misty at the end? Or did you join in with the roommates’ dance party? Do you agree with the theory I posted earlier that a Nick-Jess relationship could ruin the show, or are you chomping at the bit for some action?

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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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