First things first: If, prior to watching this episode, someone said that “Teachers” would feature a roommate who doesn’t know how to do laundry and doesn’t know how to use a ruler, who would you guess? Nick, right? Right! Instead, it’s Schmidt and Winston, respectively, and it’s two character decisions that throw me off but in a good way. It’s a welcome bit of role reversal with Nick being the well-adjusted (sort of) roommate who has to teach his friends very basic life skills. But, before we dissect that, there’s that whole A-plot to get out of the way.
Jess and Coach are separated from the rest of the flock this episode (and Cece doesn’t make an appearance at all) as they head to a weekend long education symposium. It’s a weekend of raucous partying — after working from 9 to 7, and before quiet time at 10 PM (and minus the hour spent setting up and cleaning). The overall plot is OK, especially because it includes guest star Lisa Bonet (LISA BONET!), and it is worth it for some necessary character development with Coach. Coach is now a health teacher at Jess’ school but he begins to get freaked out when everyone reminds of him how important health class is to teenagers, how it’s maybe the most important class. He’s not sure he’s up for the task which eventually leads to him getting very, very drunk and standing on the roof, threatening to backflip into the pool.
While all of that is going on, Jess was busy trying to avoid Ryan, the wickedly handsome British teacher she’s been attracted to since “Landline.” The more she tries not to be attracted to him, the more she wants him — isn’t that always how it goes? They are basically perfect for each other and their chemistry is undeniable as they do silly exercises during the teacher’s retreat while Lisa Bonet (LISA BONET!) looks on approvingly. But Jess is hesitant. This is where I must commend New Girl for not going the easy route: Jess isn’t hesitant to get involved with Ryan because she’s still hung up on Nick, something that most sitcoms would emphasize in order to keep shipping hope alive, but it looks like New Girl is done with Nick/Jess for good, and I like it. Anyway, the real reason she is hesitant is because as Vice Principal she is technically Ryan’s superior and it’s against the rules (and not exactly smart) to get involved with him. But he keeps doing more and more things that Jess can’t possible ignore — he heroically dives into the pool to save Coach after Coach falls in! — and she blurts out that she has a crush on him. Her feelings are reciprocated the next day when the two share a kiss in the parking lot and that end scene, with Jess trying to hide her happiness and pulling a blanket over her head like a lovestruck teenager? So perfect.
So that brings us back to the three other guys. How wonderful it was to see the original gang — Schmidt, Nick, and Winston — back together, drinking beer, and shooting the shit. I’ve loved the addition (re-addition?) of Damon Wayans Jr.’s Coach after the unfortunate cancelation of Happy Endings but it was nice to see this dynamic between the original three once again, reminding me of how much I adored the three together. Nick is tasked with teaching Schmidt how to do laundry and puts him through some sort of laundry bootcamp, making Schmidt repeatedly pour detergent right up to the line in the cap (and also informing him of what we all know: The “permanent press” button is a fluke). He also teaches Winston how to use a ruler, which takes all about two seconds, but the resulting shots of Winston measuring everything from his beer bottle to the grin on his face are so Winston: weird and wonderful.
Once all of the life lessons are out of the way, Nick admits some things that he’s bad at: can’t say February (no one can!), can’t say the alphabet unless he’s singing the song, never learned to love — wait, what? Try looking back on his and Jess’ relationship with that bit of knowledge and, yikes. So now it’s Winston and Schmidt who become the teachers, aiming to teach him all about love. How? By sitting in a fort made out of sheets and listening to sappy love songs. I can’t really say that Nick learned anything, but it’s a testament to this show’s love for its characters that it’s not played entirely for laughs (the smash cut, though expected, was still hilarious though) but that it’s more invested in learning more about why Nick is this way. Cries of “Dudes weekend!” aside, there is so much honesty in the interactions between Schmidt, Nick, and Winston and New Girl plays them straight. I suspect there might be more to come with Nick — and definitely more to come with Jess and Ryan — so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.