This week, everyone in the loft needs a meditation moment. Jess can't pay the bills, Winston has "sympathy PMS" and Nick is angrier than ever. Luckily, Nick meets a silent Zen master who helps the crew find peace in this very strange (and strangely appealing) episode of New Girl
Schmidt's the Boss
First of all, let me say that nobody on TV makes having a "real job" seem as attractive as Schmidt does. (The only exceptions are maybe Jane and Brad of Happy Endings, but Schmidt's still a top contender in my book.)
While the roommates fret about bills, breakups and bad attitudes, Schmidt calmly tells Jess that she can't pay her bills with library cards and cookie fortunes. Unless she shells out real, cold, hard currency accepted by banks and retailers, he's calling the gas company and asking them to pull the plug. Of course, as the most employed roommate, Schmidt has the power to make this call. Still, it's tough love, not just a power play, and it's nice to see Schmidt using his power for good (momentarily.) As we learned in last season's "Control," Schmidt is the "mom" of the loft, so it's apt that he turns Jess' financial rut into a teachable moment. He tells her bluntly, "No more handouts. What are you gonna do about it? How are you going to pay the gas bill?"
When Nick tells her to get a job, Jess has a minor meltdown, childishly claiming that PMS is keeping her from job-hunting. (Excuses!) Schmidt stands his ground and calls the gas company, even calmly taking their survey while having the gas shut off.
Schmidt's not just winning in the loft. At work, Schmidt gets his ear bitten by the Divisional Vice President of all North American (like that's a thing), a crazy exec who makes romantic conquests sign contracts before getting sexually entangled. Good thing. When Schmidt tells the story to Cece and Robbie, Robbie suggests that the VP of NA is guilty of sexually harassment. As always, Robbie's missing the infinite possibilities. "Robbie, there's a fine line between sexual harassment and something awesome," Schmidt tells him. Robbie insists that he prefers a nice girl "like Cece," which promptly sends Cece fleeing to Schmidt's bedroom for some bad-girl reassurance. They ultimately only kiss, and Cece decides to stick with Robbie (for now), but the moment proves that the two still have plenty of heat. Schmidt might be better off single for the moment, anyway. He's free to get tied up by his sexy boss!
Actor Max Greenfield's best Schmidt moment of the episode has to be his silent reaction to Winston's frantic confession: "I think I'm getting my period!" Schmidt smiles with his eyes, taking a moment to digest the information so he won't laugh in Winston's face. It's a golden moment for both Schmidt and Greenfield.
Nick Meets a Silent Friend
The roommates' shenanigans are initially pretty typical (minus Winston's so-called sympathy PMS), but when Nick meets an elderly Asian man in the park, things start getting especially weird. Although the man doesn't say a word, his calm, quiet energy opens Nick up gives actor Jake Johnson a chance to get goofy. Nick starts spilling his inner feelings like he's in therapy, complimenting the man's baseball hat ("I like how it's not a team or a logo, it's just blue"), and then asks him strange survey-type questions like, "Would you rather be covered in fish scales or feathers?" The montage shows Nick leaping into the air, sobbing, and screaming "Who am I?" toward the heavens like he's about to have a breakthrough.
Maybe he does -- for a second -- but his cool head doesn't last long. When Nick returns to the loft, Jess and Winston are arguing over who has dibs on PMS symptoms, Schmidt is gloating about his power to shut off the gas, and Nick can't handle the combination of screaming roommates and icy cold water. Nick stomps back to the park, where he finds his Zen friend still quietly sitting on the bench. Nick spills his feelings again, begging to be shown the way.
The man leads Nick by the hand to an indoor pool, were he motions for Nick to undress and step into the water. The man undresses with Nick and then cradles him like a baby in the water, walking him through the pool while a flutist plays a calming melody in the background. (Fun fact: Nick appears to be getting a Watsu water massage. His chi must be flowing freely now.) When the man finally speaks, he tells Nick, "You are a huge baby," which Nick sleepily agrees with. As creepily intimate as the whole scene is, I have to applaud New Girl writers for the novelty. I definitely haven't seen anything like this on TV before.
Jess Has So Many Feelings
Now, Jess' story line is a lot more familiar. The premise: Jess has her period. She's moody, irrational, emotional and incapable. Like so many writers before them, the New Girl writers walk that tightrope of humor over the choppy waters of sexism and just barely come out funnier than they are sexist -- until the end of the episode, that is, when they reveal that Jess isn't an emotional mess because she has PMS. (Well, that's not the only reason, anyway.) She's afraid. Getting laid off has shaken her confidence, and she's making excuses.
For the first half of the episode, though, Jess shoots out enough rapid-fire PMS lines to fill a book. A few highlights include:
- "I feel like I wanna murder someone and also I want soft pretzels."
- "It's not enough that I have to go to an interview with the red devil in my belly. I also have to go unshowered."
- "It feels like a fat man's sitting on my uterus!"
- "I was sabotaged by my baby box!"
So if you've joked about surfing "the crimson wave" ever since Clueless, New Girl has just given you some new material. Zooey Deschanel's best moment definitely came during Jess' job interview, though, when the interviewer shows Jess a picture of her tiny dog, Boo (after Boo Radley) in a tea cup, and Jess weeps into a puddle of hormones, saying, "Sorry, how did she fit in the cup? Just physically, how did she get so small?" She stifles the sobs until the interviewer admits that Boo passed away a few years ago. Deschanel chokes out "Puppy...in a...cup" between sobs like a pro. The scene is ridiculous, and yet it still feels real. Weeping is over dead dogs is like crying when Dumbo's mother gets locked up, and that big tear rolls down her trunk. Like, how do you not cry, you know?
Anyway. As I said, Jess' insanity is only partially hormonal, and the rest is circumstantial. As always, Nick has a heart-to-heart with Jess about her future, helping her realize that she's using PMS as an excuse for bombing her interview. He encourages her to interview again for the teaching job, which she does. She gets the job! She'll now be teaching creative writing to adults, which inspires Nick's line of the night: "Well I hope you like stories about vampires and bad childhoods!" Jess replies, "I do!"
They celebrate Jess' new employment and the reintroduction of heat to the apartment by jumping around to House of Pain's "Jump Around" until they realize that Winston's still depressed and lethargic. He admits that it's not really PMS (of course). He's still mourning his breakup with Shelby.