Is it hot in here or is just Nick and Jess? Well, technically both as my heat is not only on full blast (lousy Smarch weather) but because Nick and Jess are the most scorching almost-couple on television. The New Girl writers are dangling these two in front of us like they're a sexy ball of yarn and we're a damn cat. The innuendo-filled "Quick Hardening Caulk" (come on, even the title of the episode was an innuendo!) was a fast, furious, and frenzied mix of physical comedy and sexual tension. Hell, even Winston had a killer scene this week. A hilarious winner of an episode all around.
The episode kicked off at the bar where roles were reversed, as Schmidt was a sad sack drowning his Cece engagement sorrows in the girliest drink of all time, Melon Balls ("That's safe to drink while you're pregnant" Nick made sure to note), and Nick was a motivated go-getter who was doing everything to be a good bartender. The take-charge, grown-up Nick caught the eye of Jess, who, let's face it, hasn't been able to really shake him (and vice versa) since their kiss.
Jess admitted, out loud, to Cece that she wants Nick. Now her crush is not just something in her mind, but a palpable energy in the apartment and every time she's around Nick it is, as to be expected, terribly awkward. Everything he does suddenly makes him more and more appealing: figuring out what laundry is (even the "little soap house" in the washing machine and the perks of "smelling like a baby in a damn meadow"), wanting to have salads and vitamins for nutrition, and his newfound ambition at work by coming up with ideas like "Men's Night" at the bar.
Of course, Nick was clueless to Jess' weirdness (in his defense, she's a cuckoo bird all the time) and his real reason for wanting to be an attractive, productive adult male was — unbeknownst to Jess — because he was sleeping with his sexy new female manager at the bar, played by guest star Odette Annable.
The growing attraction was only propelled by a fateful trip to a hardware store where he sexily pulled on chains (oh, the grunting, my god, the grunting), sexily rattled off his list of items he needed to buy (which just so happened to include a long- shafted drive drill, a new nut wrench, quick hardening caulk, a drill shaft, and box of gummy sharks) and sexily nailed Jess in the face with a long plank of wood. Okay, that last one isn't as sexy as it sounds, he actually accidentally knocked her out cold with wood.
Back at the apartment, Nick tended to Jess, who was all hopped up on painkillers from the shiner she took to the chin. In her woozy state Jess not only confessed to Nick that she liked him, but that she wanted to have sex with him. I repeat: Jess admitted to Nick she wanted to have sex with him, in the voice of Judy Garland, no less. (Boy, Jess sure does bring old timey stars into the bedroom with her a lot, doesn't she?)
A stunned and confused Nick did his best to fight off an aggressive Jess ("That little piggy cant be touched by you!") even as she reached down his pants and told him he was a "beautiful white man" and adored his "little bubble belly." He fought her off just enough to have his hand land in a bowl of hot soup and left with a whole lot of confused feelings.
When he pow-wowed with Schmidt and Winston (I'll get to their storyline soon, I swear) and gave a very thinly veiled analogy about opened and closed doors, it was very evident Nick wanted to have sex with Jess and see if she meant what she said. But, heartbreak of heartbreak, a recovering Jess emerges to reveal she doesn't remember anything that happened to her, certainly not confessing wanting to have sexytimes with Nick. All together now: nooooooooooooo!
But the saga of Nick and Jess wasn't over just yet: Jess showed up to the bar to find Nick's new squeeze all over him. Jess tried to surpress her anger and confusion and Nick tried to cover his tracks to no avail, introducing Jess as his "room...friend" and Jess storming off, despite not really having a reason to be upset about him having a new girl around...except for the fact that she loves him.
Nick found Jess back at the apartment eating ice cream (oh brother, let's hope they don't get into this territory again), but rather than let the tension mount, he tells her about her drug-fueled confession and flat-out asks her, "Do you wanna have sex with me?" She says yes, but the truth comes out that her newfound attraction came from Nick's newfound ambition, that was for another woman. Nick calls her a gold digger, she denies it, and in what is his sexiest move yet, tells her to "prove it." Hubba. Hubba.
The two kiss again and claw at each other physically and verbally, flip-flopping between hot make-out session and arguing with each other, sometimes combining both. ("Just shut up and take off your clothes!") But the fighting had disastrous results when Nick accidentally broke Schmidt's fish tank (yes, Schmidt got a fish tank, I promise I'll get to it!) and the whole thing fell apart, literally and figuratively. No, Nick and Jess didn't do it, but they certainly didn't close the door to it either. Thank goodness, because Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel's comedic chemistry has made for the most sizzling, enjoyable dynamic on television in a long time. They're both comedy dynamos who, let's face it, aren't too tough to look at. Everybody wins.
Speaking of comedy dynamos, Max Greenfield had one of his best performances this season with an episode that was equal parts slapstick as it was heart. Schmidt was in a total downward spiral since Cece's engagement that only got worse when, despite Winston's best intention to take his mind off things by taking him to the aquarium, Schmidt became obsessed with a lionfish that reminded him of his ex. (You see, because for him, there's no other fish in the seasea, than Cece).
Schmidt becomes obsessed with obtaining the rare lionfish, going so far as to try and fish one out of the ocean (with a lacrosse stick, no less) only to wind up with a comically large jellyfish sting to the face. With good friend Winston by his side (who wouldn't, nay couldn't pee on him, a la Monica's incident on Friends) Schmidt wound up in the hospital where Cece showed up with...a lionfish as per Schmidt's request. (She knew a guy who knows a guy who can find obscure things. The perks of being a model).
With Schmidt out cold, Winston pleads with Cece to give Schmidt space to breathe and get over her. Her engagement was, as he described it, killing him. It was a sincere, much-needed moment, not only for Cece to step away or make up her mind about Schmidt for good, but for the underutilized Lamorne Morris to finally have a real reason to be around. When Schmidt came around he realized, albeit very late, that the fish obsession was an obvious analogy for Cece and that he must release her: she's not his to keep. It all would have been very sweet if Schmidt hadn't attempted to flush "her" and then accidentally throw "her" in the total opposite direction on the beach.
"Quick Hardening Caulk" (heh) cracked the doors back open for both major New Girl couples, and while I'm a little more eager for a full-fledged Nick and Jess hook-up (I mean, look at the way they kiss and fight), the ongoing Schmidt and Cece drama looks primed for some season finale action. Either way the wind blows for these four, it's all working for New Girl. The show has somehow broken the sitcom curse of having couples tension not get in the way of it being hilarious. Looking at you, later seasons of How I Met Your Mother. The cast and writers of New Girl have expertly woven physical comedy, with romance, sex, and drama, and the new episode was the epitome of all that.
Here now are some of the other great moments and lines from the great "Quick Hardening Caulk." Heh.
- Schmidt's list of things worth getting upset about other than Cece: "Air pollution in China, the deficit, The Hobbit wasn't very good."
- "I don't trust fish, they breathe water"- Nick, after seeing Schmidt's fish tank.
- "Just remember you caught him pleasuring himself to a mail order steak catalog!" - Jess, talking herself down from being turned on by Nick at the hardware store.
- "I don't want some janky fresh water bitch fish." - Schmidt, after Winston buys him a clown fish.
- Schmidt telling Winston he's an "incredibly lumpy man" and suggesting he lose 55 pounds.
- Nick calling $24 "two dozen dollars" at the bar.
- "What are you, the city planner?!"- Schmidt to Winston, after he warns him the toilet doesn't lead to the ocean.
- Nick and Jess' make-out. Yes, I know we already talked about it, but it's worth mentioning again!
[Photo credit: Ray Mickshaw/Fox]