The last three episodes of New Girl have been loads of fun, thanks in part to some great stuff from guest star Linda Cardellini. It was cool to see some shake-up within the loft as a little chaos was introduced into the lives of characters who had finally found some stability. When Abby bailed, she left Schmidt penniless and therefore homeless. He had to resort to moving back into the loft and now everything seems back to normal (even Coach’s presence is starting to feel like he was always around), but how good is this return to normalcy for the show?
“Fired Up” was a nice installment of New Girl but far from my favorite. I did like that it dealt with the careers of some of the roommates. New Girl doesn’t dwell on their jobs, save for a few scattered looks at Jess’ job (and that previous story about her unemployment). Nick’s brief flirtation with law before he ended up a bartender hasn’t been mentioned in so long that I had completely forgotten about it. With Nick and Cece both at the bar, Jess going through the motions of teaching, Winston doing nothing, and Coach working at a gym (as we saw last week), the group has mostly been in a standstill when it comes to their careers. “Fired Up” tackled this.
Jess gets Coach a job at her school as a coach (is he suited for anything else?). At first, Coach isn’t too interested in the job (he’s only in it for the paychecks) and he doesn’t seem like the best. He doesn’t know how to talk to children so he instead terrifyingly yells at them (“I will murder your family!”) and ends up liking it. Oddly enough, the kids love this approach. When Coach learns that Jess wants to eventually become vice principal, he encourages her to go for it. It works, but at a cost — she gets the job but has to fire Coach because of budget cuts. That’s the problem with mixing work and friendship, especially when you’re someone’s superior. It always has the possibility to get uncomfortable. And it does get uncomfortable: Jess fires Coach just as his team has made him a varsity jacket that says “Coach Coach.” It’s a little heartbreaking to see him sadly shuffle away, explaining “I’m not coach anymore. I’m just Coach.”
Meanwhile, in the episode’s most inspired plot, Schmidt is getting sued and Nick jumps at the chance to being his lawyer. When Schmidt points out that he hasn’t practiced law in a while, Nick retorts that it’s just like riding a bike … and then the episode quickly cuts to Nick struggling to ride a bike. It’s easily one of the best gags of the night. Nick doesn’t really remember how to be a lawyer, either, but the show has a lot of fun with the trio of Schmidt, Nick, and Winston. I had some concerns about Schmidt quickly moving back into the loft because it felt too easy and like a copout but “Fired Up” reminded me of how great these guys are when they hang out together and fuck around. It’s so great that I don’t even have any complains about Winston’s consistently half-baked plots. He’s perfect in this episode, eagerly throwing himself into the role of a fake-lawyer and hilariously spouting cliches. The best? After they win the case, he tosses a business card to the opposition who glances at it and says, “This is a baseball card.” I love you, Winston. Never change.
The strangest plot involves Cece and a handsome stranger at the bar. He immediately charms both her and Mike (Ben Falcone, who gets some of the best lines of the night) but he’s only 20 years old. He later returns and asks Cece out and she happily obliges. I’m not sure where this storyline is going and I’m not sure that I’m interested in it at all, but New Girl has previously done more with less.
Everyone gets a happy ending in “Fired Up.” Cece gets her date with a guy who can’t even drink, the three boys get a win and Nick gains some confidence in himself (it’d be interesting to see if New Girl decides to explore that career option for Nick; as he mentioned, he did look pretty sexy with that briefcase), and even Coach gets his coaching job back — much to the delight of the team. “Fired Up” isn’t an immediate classic, but it was a nice, optimistic episode that was full of laughs.