New Girl 4.05 “Landline” Review: Lost Connections

New Girl Winston and Nick

Think about last season of New Girl and which characters were paired up in each episode. You maybe had some episodes where the entire gang was together, like at Thanksgiving, but most of season three split Nick and Jess up from the rest of the group, as their relationship become the cornerstone of the show. While I still think Nick and Jess are incredibly important to New Girl, I’m happy that the series has split them up because, so far, season four has been about exploring their loneliness in very creative, funny, and effective ways.

Tonight’s episode of New Girl, “Landline,” is weird and outrageous from beginning to end, and it had me laughing throughout all 20-plus minutes of it. However, in between those laughs, I caught on to what season four of New Girl has been about so far. Although it’s been about re-establishing the status quo in the loft and allowing for all of the roommates to have fun adventures as friends again, it’s also telling the story of how two people deal with a breakup.

For Jess, it’s about getting back out into the dating world. Pretty much all of her storylines so far this season, aside from when her dad came to visit, have been her trying to find a guy that she can connect with, someone that can help her, in a way, get over Nick, who remains the last person that Jess has been with. She tried to have one-night-stand after the wedding in the season four premiere, then she used a Tinder-like dating app in “Dice,” and even attempted to stick with a guy she didn’t like in last week’s episode (and her dislike was not just because of his size issues).

Nick, on the other hand, appears to have no sense of purpose at the moment. He’s the only roommate in the loft who doesn’t work during the day, giving him an endless amount of free time to stew in his own thoughts, which is something he doesn’t want to be doing right now. So how does he try to distract himself? He falls back into old, familiar habits like smoking weed, “helps” (more like sabotages) Schmidt with work for his job, and, in “Landline,” desperately tries to reincorporate himself into his friends’ lives by being a “very good secretary.”

Because of this reasoning, I’m okay with the fact that, so far at least, the fourth season of New Girl appears to be about pretty much nothing except goofy situations and great one-liners that make me laugh. Both season two, which focused on getting Nick and Jess together, and season three, which examined how they would work (or not work) as a couple, were both more structurally sound than what we’ve been given so far this fall, but I’m still enjoying the show just as much as I always have been.

Besides, all of these wacky scenarios, like Nick using the landline to regain prominence in Schmidt and Winston’s life and Jess’s accidental crotch-grabbing lesson to her fellow employees about workplace romance (“SHUT IT DOWN!”), could all be leading to interesting emotional places for these characters. Perhaps Nick eventually breaks down to Schmidt, Coach and Winston because he’s not over Jess just yet, or Jess’s potential new co-worker love interest Ryan (Julian Morris from Once Upon a Time and Pretty Little Liars) isn’t cool with her living with her ex, prompting Jess to question her friendship with Nick and even contemplate moving out of the loft.

Honestly, I gave my opinion on this season’s arc so far, but I’m not entirely sure if all this wackiness will lead to something satisfying for these characters. But right now, it’s all a lot of fun to watch, and after three-plus seasons, that’s all I ask of New Girl–to just keep being fun.

Other thoughts:

– The chemistry between Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, and Lamorne Morris has never been as good as it was in tonight’s episode. I could watch Nick, Schmidt, and Winston going back-and-forth with movie references forever. “You know what’s a good movie? Splash.”

– Principal Foster starts calling Jess “Dog” in this episode and encourages her to do the same to him. That, plus this line, “Don’t be alarmed, but his voice is going to sound kind of funny–it’s because he’s British,” make him the episode’s MVP.

– Ryan’s last name sounds like “goes in ya,” which leads to a hilariously awkward first encounter with Jess and some great lines from Coach. “It goes in all of us.”

– Also, Coach is very worldly. Simply look at this fantastic observation he makes: “British people love doing stuff.”

– Nick’s speech about the answering machine replacing him was so good that I had to include all of it here. “I’m no idiot. I know I was let go because of the dang old machine. Story’s as old as time: A new piece of technology comes around and all of the peasants freak out. But one prince knows what’s going on. And he says ‘Don’t trust the technology,’ and all you peasants trust it. And then the machine becomes self-aware and destroys you all. And then I become the loneliest prince of all. Laughing in my golden tower.”

– Winston has a ritual before he can become “weirdly smooth” on the phone. “I need a soda, I need a straw, and I need to get horizontal so get out of my way.”

– And Winston uses those phone skills to help Schmidt out with his Business, Man! interview, turning his name into an acronym: “Some Can Have Money, I Desire Thoughtfulness.”

– What’s funnier: Schmidt dry cleaning his socks or Winston going to the driving range “just to watch”? Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s obviously Winston going to the driving range.

– And speaking of the driving range, Winston’s sort-of-girlfriend Judy takes extreme action after Nick breaks up with her on the phone for him by going all Lloyd Dobler at episode’s end, although it looks like she and Winston are bigger fans of Elton John than Peter Gabriel.

– Schmidt can’t deal with Cece recording the message for the loft’s answering machine. “This is a home. We’re not selling lubricant.” “Oh my God, will you not stop until the whole world is aroused?”

– New Girl is off the next two weeks due to the World Series on Fox. I’ll see you all back here for a new episode on November 4th!

What did everyone else think of tonight’s episode of New Girl?

Photo via Fox

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