S1E12: This week in lessons learned from New Girl: any creepy situation can be rendered less creepy by Rusted Root and Zooey Deschanel’s doe eyes. Nick and Jess work towards their inevitable coupling, but not as rapidly or conventionally as we might expect. The catalyst is the titular landlord and it’s Jess’ polarizing “adorkable” qualities that keep this storyline out of the creepy chasm and on a mildly bothersome, yet funny plane.
“Oh my God it's like The Wire.” –Jess
“He has a gun and you’re dressed like a bull’s-eye.” –Nick
The Nick and Jess storyline gets rolling when they have a showdown with a driver in a parking lot. The guy pulls a gun out when Nick tries to take a parking spot from him and Jess uses her kindness to not only get the guy to put the gun away, but relinquish the spot altogether. Clearly, this becomes a point of debate between the pair, and when Nick “fixes” yet another broken piece of the apartment, Jess has found the perfect litmus test for their disagreement: the landlord. She’s convinced that people are inherently good and that being nice will get you everywhere. Nick conversely believes, quite simply, that people suck.
So, Jess goes to the landlord’s death trap apartment to ask him to fix the various safety hazards in the loft and mentions that there are four people living upstairs, but the lease only accounts for three. He comes up and they throw Schmidt’s bed and belongings out the window and pretend he’s a visiting Italian/Argentinian (who knows what that accent is supposed to be) tourist. The landlord catches them in the lie when Schmidt inexplicably shows back up in the apartment, but the landlord's only request is that they paint over the creepy sex mural in Winston’s room. Jess, determined to prove that he’s actually a good person, asks the landlord very, very sweetly to fix some things around the apartment and he says he will, but only for Jess.
“Everything is easy when you are a battleship invading the bay of success.” –Schmidt’s old New Year’s resolutions
Meanwhile, Schmidt is having issues with the boss he accused of sexual harassment at the company Christmas party. Apparently, he’s had a crush on her for years, and their sexual tension is reaching a breaking point. He constantly confuses everything she says as a sexy command, agonizing over her request for him to dial her into a conference call or sort files. This does result in him giving himself a sexy paper cut (one can only assume) when he literally licks a file folder in an attempt to be seductive. Max Greenfield makes watching Schmidt squirm so very rewarding. And Since Schmidt is, well, Schmidt, when Cece gives him great advice (just go for it; ladies like that) and he actually takes it, he winds up being tackled by building security and getting his boss in trouble. Still, he gets the chance to be honest with his boss about his little crush (but what about Cece?). It’s just too bad he still doesn’t grasp when she’s asking him to do actual work – no, that’s a lie. It's wonderful that he doesn't grasp what she's talking about. Even though we saw the last scene coming, watching Schmidt strip down for a room full of Japanese business men thinking his boss was the one watching is still pretty priceless.
Schmidt did win – in some small fashion – because he uses his old New Year’s resolutions that Winston finds while painting over his “ass dojo” to sway his attractive boss. Let’s just hope he hasn’t really figured it out; and ditzy Schmidt is a funny Schmidt.
“You always see the worst in people.” –Jess
“Yeah, because people are the worst.” –Nick
Remy the landlord starts on his work around the apartment, showing Jess how to fix her door by standing behind her, which Nick says is a classic move when a guy wants to sleep with a girl. “Watch any sports movie” – it’s true. Nick pulls Jess aside and tells her, showing her the move (and giving us all a little heart flutter) and Jess says he’s wrong. Just then, Remy comes in talking about “man smell” is Jess’ room and fixing her bed. Suggestive much? Jess doesn’t think so. They are extremes – Jess is too trusting that people are good, Nick is too sure they’re awful. Let’s get ready to rumble.
Jess comes in with Remy, who’s done yet another creepy sexual thing (sprayed her with water when fixing the bathroom) and Jess says she’s invited him over for dinner to thank him and everyone bails, until Remy says it will be just the two of them. Nick decides he’s in so he can keep an eye on Jess. If he wasn’t being protective, he would just let Jess learn her lesson on her own, right? (Says the trained romantic side of our brains.) Remy brings creepy fermented basement brew and tries to bond with Nick over being recently dumped (Remy by his ex-wife and Nick by Caroline). Nick is ready to fight the older man, but it turns out Remy isn’t buttering Nick up so he can move in on Jess; the landlord thinks they’re going to have a threesome.
This misunderstanding turns into a game to prove that either Jess or Nick is right, so they both enter into the threesome to see how far they can get before one of them cracks. I had to rewatch the hilarious faces Nick makes while Remy caresses him about a million times because they were just that good. The song choice, Rusted Root’s “On My Way,” helps this scene stay cute without getting as far into creepy territory as it rightfully should have. But then Remy tells them to get it started and Nick and Jess have to kiss. And since they’re so meant to be, we think they’re just going to do it and suddenly realize how they feel – but that’s what would happen on a normal sitcom. Let’s think about why we’re glad it didn’t happen in typical sitcom fashion: that would be a disgusting, non-romantic first kiss. "Hey, Jess, remember when our landlord who ferments things in the basement tried to have a threesome with us and we realized we were in love?” Yeah, it’s not exactly one for the ages. Jess breaks and admits she’s wrong and the kiss is no more.
Even though the episode didn’t deliver on the romantic promise that we’d expect, it really worked to build that friendship that will inevitably become romance between the two roommates. And with all this more subtle buildup, it will just be that much better when the real romance rears its sugary sweet head.
Were you disappointed that Nick and Jess didn’t go for the kiss? Do you think Schmidt is doomed to be a clown forever? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler