If I have one constant gripe about New Girl, it’s that the series never gives Cece as much screen time as she deserves. Cece is such a rich character with plenty to be explored (and actress Hannah Simone has proven her comedic chops time and time again, making it even more ridiculous that Cece rarely gets anything to do outside of her will-they-again/won’t-they-again relationship with Schmidt). This season has given her a little bit more, with her job at the bar and return to get her degree, but I still want all Cece, all the time. That’s mostly solved this week as she’s paired up with Jess for the majority of the episode, as they both embark on a walk of shame.
It all begins with a blow out: Because the two women are just got their hair done, they need to go somewhere to show it off, leading them to a party at Bearclaw’s (Josh Gad) apartment. They both wake up the next morning in strange beds, disheveled hair, and slept-in makeup and are faced with that all-too-common situation: the walk of shame. (Or, as Liz Lemon put it in 30 Rock and my preferred description, the stride of pride.) Hungover, with dead phones and a towed car, unquenchable dehydration, and a very relatable terror of the sunshine, Jess and Cece take off on their journey home but refuse to take off their heels because, as Cece puts it, carrying shoes means “a legit walk of shame.”
What I really enjoy about this episode is both how unapologetic Cece and Jess are about their night out (and walk home) and how the episode skips the party and goes right to the aftermath of them waking up. We get to make up our own ideas of what happened, at least until details start trickling in through their conversation. As they are on the hunt for water, plotting to steal a giant watercooler jug of water from outside a children’s birthday party, Jess confesses that she didn’t actually sleep with weirdo Bearclaw but instead did something worse: She stayed up all night making up a musical about woodland creatures. New Girl might be shying away from the numerous references to Jess being oh-so-adorkable, but this is a big one that really works, especially as we get glimpses of the “musical” in flashbacks featuring Jess and Bearclaw enthusiastically singing. “I stayed up all night pretending to be a singing tree,” Jess admits, instead of having a “one night stand like a normal woman.” But Jess isn’t a “normal” woman because there’s no such thing as one. She is strange and unique and occasionally prefers musicals to sex, and that’s OK.
As it turns out, Cece didn’t have sex with her guy either (Ken? Kent? Who knows!). Instead, the two started to hook up and she kept calling him “Schmidt” until they stopped and she felt so bad that she straightened up his room (which, for the record, I believe is even weirder than making up a whole musical). Simone has been on fire these last few episodes, nailing every emotion as she slowly realizes that she’s still in love with Schmidt (and he’s with someone else) and that she doesn’t really know what to do about it. She’s both sad and amused with herself, stuck in this weird limbo.
The silliness doesn’t end there, as Jess and Cece randomly run into Jess’ ex-boyfriend Paul (a returning Justin Long!) as they are looking crazed and drinking from a strangers’ backyard water hose. Jess goes from awkward (kissing the top of his forehead — twice) to overcompensating (“This isn’t boring married hair! It’s fun hair!” she protests, too much, while half-explaining her and Cece’s predicament). She doesn’t really have to defend her actions, though, because it’s soon revealed that Paul’s life isn’t perfect with marriage and kids. No, he’s working as a musical party clown. Jess, being Jess, give him a pep talk (complete with a Taylor Swift reference) that inspires him to quit his job and the three triumphantly walk off together, a complete ragtag mess of adults.
Over in the B plot, Coach is now full speed ahead with his girlfriend May (I wonder where exactly this storyline is going with Damon Wayans Jr.’s departure? I assume she will get a job somewhere and he’ll follow her to the middle of nowhere and off the show). They’re off to some fancy event but Coach and Schmidt wonder if it’s a good idea to bring decidedly unclassy Winston and Nick. Nick doesn’t exactly help his case by duct taping his slippers together. It’s actually a fun storyline with a heavy question: What do you do if you’re embarrassed with your best friends’ behavior? How do you talk to them about it? If you’re Coach, you don’t. You avoid the topic and instead bribe them with passes to a water park, hoping they go there instead of the fancy event. But they show up anyway, insanity ensues, and the night ends with the three of them trying to squeeze a toothpick out of Coach’s leg. You can’t take any of them anywhere, it turns out. But all of Coach’s worrying is for naught. I disliked May toward the beginning of the episode (she says things like, “I used to play violin. Then I became a real musician”) but I warmed up to her by the end, when she learns to play the Monday Night Football song on her cello just for Coach. Now, I guess, I’m rooting for these kids.