Whoa, nelly. For a show about four young people living in Los Angeles, Tuesday’s episode of New Girl certainly had a lot of talk about horse semen.
The Fox series hasn’t exactly replicated the success of its first season this year, so you’d think that an episode in which the main conflict hinged on selling the fruit of a steed’s loins would be the moment to throw in the towel. Against all odds, it’s actually not. And that’s because after you wade through all the jokes about the white stuff, you get to the right stuff: the genuine, (dare I say it) heartwarming bond between Jess and Nick.
The nonsense starts when Dennis Farina stops by to play the long awaited father to Nick’s aimless wonder. While I was hoping to find Mr. Grumpy Cat Sr. trudging around the quartet’s ridiculous L.A. loft apartment, competing with Nick to see who could gain more frown lines in a single sitting or go hoarse from griping about kid these days, Mr. Miller waltzes in like Willy Wonka, besting Nick at the game I’m totally going to make my friends play next time one of them has had one too many drinks for the night: Feely Cup. (How Nick didn’t get that the mystery item was a tampon wrapped in duct tape dipped in baking powder will forever remain a mystery. Talk about no direction!)
Winston is ecstatic, until Schmidt reminds him that Mr. Miller is a con man who brought his kid and his best friend a box of hats that read “Chica Go Bills” (you mean you don’t remember cheering for Michael Jordan to lead the Chica Go Bills basketball team to victory?). But Winston didn’t have a dad growing up, so he clung to Walt Miller and ignored his obvious scheming, but that storyline is over now because Winston is the worst and this episode is all about Nick. Gosh, Winston.
Walt takes the whole crew, minus Schmidt who’s on a mission to save Cece from a blind date (but more on that in a minute), to the race tracks. Between ‘supping various extras from The Sopranos all day at the tracks, Walt convinces Jess that he’s here to make things right with Nick, and he gets her to pitch in to buy Nick the horse “he always wanted,” but surprise! It’s all a ruse so Walt can get into the horse semen black market. Oh, of course. That thing that’s totally real. (It’s very real. The phrase “selling horse semen” is now a permanent mark on my Google record. You’re welcome.)
The episode gets sweet, and far weirder than I could have imagined, when Nick insists on accompanying his father to the drop so he can make sure Jess gets her investment back (Winston, however, is stuck never seeing a dime of that $1100 Walt owes him.) When the Russian gangsters show up to buy the horse for his grade-A product (“He makes the white?”), Nick is determined to make the sale, no matter how much his Pinoccio’s nose of a perspiration problem gets in the way. He tells his first lie with his face scrunched up like a pug’s face on a ShrinkyDink: “You’ll get a bunch of horse semen.” It’s enough to make Nick’s body erupt in a shiny layer of sweat, which glistens enough in the headlights of the Russians’ car that they assume he’s wearing a wire. If all the talk of semen wasn’t weird enough, the Russians make Nick get naked and dance, but luckily, before it gets weird Nick turns the dance into a spastic Nick Miller ballet. Sweat Lake, perhaps? In all the excitement, Nick admits that he’s lying, which makes a lead pipe magically appear in the gangsters’ hands. Nick saves he and his father from a savage beating by playing his childhood game, Sugar Ray: pretend to be going into diabetic shock so the mean men don’t want to kill Daddy.
When the men speed off in confusion, so does Jess, cackling that she totally “conned” them into talk to each other. Jess, if you weren’t some weird hybrid of a human and cartoon character, you’d be steering your impossible to drive pickup truck right into Winston territory. But, while Jess makes the world’s worst 87-point turn at the edge of the abandoned loading docks where the horse sale was supposed to go down, Nick has something of a moment with his conniving old dad. And there’s more nakedness. And also suggestive conversation surrounding the horse, who ends up nosing Walt’s pants. Beyond that, Nick blames his dad for the way he is, you know, devoid of nutrition from vegetables. Also, that part where he has no direction. That too.
After Walt seems to get it, promising to make it up to Nick, Jess catches him sneaking out the next morning and before he leaves, he can’t even muster the sentence “Tell Nick I love him.” And that’s when the real magic begins. Nick finds Jess “angry-fixing” the sink (his usual reaction to his dad’s nonsense), and the tingly heart nonsense begins. Nick tells Jess to stop (another protective measure) and tries to tell her what he learned from his dad: broken people stay broken, like Walt, and Nick is broken. The response Jess gives is, in and of itself, a total justification for all the infuriatingly twee things Jess does: “I don’t know how you made it out, but you’re good.” Despite the missteps this season, the core friendship (even without all the shipper hope attached) is still very much alive and grounding all the nonsense.
Of course, that couldn’t stop Schmidt and Robbie this week, who teamed up to sabotage Cece’s blind date with her mother’s chosen industry titan of Indian descent. While it provided for a few fantastic lines, the story basically involved the duo stalking Cece while Schmidt played on the fact that Robbie is apparently a complete dolt. (Though you have to admire Robbie’s creative thinking. You could eat an elephant one bite at a time, as the saying says, but why do that when you can make him into tacos?)
Their planning comes to a head when the duo crashes what they think is Cece’s first date with her new beau, but after throwing a series of sexualized Indian movie titles at her (the sucker in me got a kick out of Slum-doggy-style Millionaire), Schmidt and Robbie barrel into a meeting of families aimed at determining the could-be couple’s compatibility. Cece’s not messing around. This also means, these shenanigans are probably going to continue for at least a little while longer, but hey, at least they have nothing to do with the reproductive functions of large farm animals. God knows there’s too much of that on television these days.
Now, before we part ways, can we just talk about some of these moments and one-liners?
- Jess, pretending to appraise a horse: “This haircut is totally wrong for his face.”