Just look at Jess's outfit. SO MUCH WANT.

Last night’s episode of New Girl was, I swear to God, about a handbell choir. When it started I was seriously concerned the episode, “Bells,” was going to be so twee that no one in the known universe was going to be able to actually get through it. But, incredibly, this episode worked. The writers scaled back Jess’s goofiness a little, threw in a prank-fight between Schmidt and Nick, and let the focus of the episode be on Winston—whom I think we’re being lead to believe is a handbell idiot savant—instead of on the OMG-LOOK-IT’S-HANDBELLS-AREN’T-WE-ALL-JUST-SO-EFFING-ADORKABLE nightmare this episode could have been.

Since Winston moved into the apartment, we really haven’t learned that much about him other than he is childhood friends with Nick and Schmidt and Coach (may he enjoy Happy Endings), he used to play basketball in Latvia, and is generally a good fit for the apartment. But there really hasn’t been much character development with him. He’s always there, but we hardly know him.

The very quiet ongoing story line with him is his struggle in finding a job. It’s been mentioned a time or two, but there hasn’t been a lot of talk about it. I actually love this story line, especially given the current employment climate. At the beginning of the episode we see him at his temp job, stuffing envelopes and looking bored out of his ever-lovin’ mind. Which is understandable, but hey, it’s a paycheck right? He tells Nick that the job is just the worst and Nick asks if he’s tried to make a game of it, and he has. But the job is so incredibly boring that not even a game can make it more palatable. Which is truly sad. Also sad is  my issue with this storyline, which I otherwise like: it would make sense for Winston to try and get a job as, I don’t know, a high school or college basketball coach (I know this is complicated since there used to be a character called Coach in the pilot) or some sort of sports-related something-or-other. Perhaps go the Jason Street route and be a fancy-pants agent? I’m just saying. This makes sense to my brain. I think maybe I’d like the I-can’t-find-a-job storyline if it was given to Nick or CeCe.

Anyway, while Nick and Winston are having this conversation, Jess strides into the apartment with four angsty teenagers in tow. She announces that because their rehearsal space at school has been turned back into a hallway, her after-school handbell choir, Ensembell, needs to use the apartment to practice before their big concert at the end of the week. The guys are all surprisingly cool about this and let them have the living room to practice. As you might have expected, none of these kids enjoys playing the handbells, but there they are anyway, doing a horrific job of it.

After a bit of a handbell break, in which we are alerted to the fact that Nick is Mr. Fix It around the apartment (this in no way surprised me) but that Schmidt does not enjoy Nick’s fixes, we learn that Winston plays the hand bells LIKE A BOSS (read: beautifully and expertly and in a way that is probably not actually possible. But who the hell actually knows enough about hand bells to point this out?). Jess (and the other roomies) are amazed by this and Jess begs Winston to help her out with Ensembell by telling him that the two of them can use handbell jargon, which apparently includes the words tinkle and tonkle, to make fun of Nick. After a moment of brief consideration, Winston agrees. Because he is awesome, the kids adore him and want to learn from him and he thinks that they should play the montage classic, “Eye of the Tiger.” The twee-ness of this whole episode only grows and somehow still manages to be bearable. It’s a little bit amazing, really. Or maybe I just have a very high tolerance for all things twee. To be honest, that really wouldn’t surprise me. (Says the girl who un-ironically wears patterned knee socks almost every day.)

Anyway! Turns out that Winston takes the handbells VERY SERIOUSLY (he actually gets fired from his temp job because he ends up making a hat for himself out of office supplies and spends all his time playing air-handbells.) and is disgusted with the lack of effort/talent these poor kids have for them. He ends up yelling at them and telling them they all suck, which pisses Jess off to no end. She kicks him out of Ensembell and then tells him that she doesn’t care if the kids suck at handbells, she cares about them feeling good about themselves and having positive reinforcement  during their angsty teenage years and that his telling them they suck isn’t helping anything. I was all kinds of very “Right on!” during this whole thing, not so much because I adore positive reinforcement, but because I like it when Jess acts like an adult. And you know, I bet she’s a kick-ass, albeit a little bizarre and corny, teacher.

So let’s wrap up this story line because I’m tired of talking about it: Nick and Winston have a manly heart to heart up on the roof about how Winston always makes everything about him and that sometimes the world isn’t Winston-centric. Then, the day of the handbell concert, all of the roomies show up at sort of the last minute and Winston plays “Eye of the Tiger” with the rest of the kids.

So! The much more fun and decidedly less-hipster B-plot of this episode is the incredible prank-fight that takes place between Nick and Schmidt. So, after Schmidt announces his displeasure with Nick’s non-fancy fix-it strategies (“All I’m hearing is that I can’t use my bathroom because you’re poor.”), Schmidt calls a plumber to fix the toilet in a style Schmidt considers legit. This prompts a fight between Nick and Schmidt over something like Schmidt’s reimbursement of $30 for ruining a sentimental gift Nick’s (now dead) grandmother gave him by somehow pouring a pitcher of Midori Sour on it. So, that leads me to this: How in the world are Nick and Schmidt friends in the first place? It seems as if Schmidt stands for everything Nick hates and the only reason they are still friends is because they were childhood friends. I mean, I’m not complaining, because those two fighting had me snort-laughing, but I’m just saying. Anyway, the only person I have ever seen order a Midori Sour is my mother (Hi mom!) who hardly ever drinks. And I’ve only ever seen her order it once.

Anyway, the prank-fight includes Schmidt dumping all of Nick’s things from the freezer onto Nick’s bed (with him in it) to thaw out overnight (which is SO GROSS I CAN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT), Nick moving the couch and refrigerator into Schmidt’s room, and Nick un-fixing all of the things in the apartment he has previously fixed. There is also an INCREDIBLE fight in which Schmidt yells at Nick for using his conditioner as shampoo. You know what this calls for, right? GIF TIME.

This all culminates in Schmidt and Nick chasing each other around the kitchen island/counter thing and Schmidt calling Nick a loser. Which is SO NOT COOL. Nick is properly pissed off and Schmidt is immediately remorseful, but you know, the truth will always out. And I assume that the airing of these feelings will prompt Nick out of his bartending gig and perhaps back into law school. Or something. Anyway, at the end of the episode, Nick and Schmidt have made up and Winston and Jess have made up and everything is hunky-dory again.

Random Things:

  • Do we think Zooey D. just shows up on set and the wardrobe people are like, “Well, we pulled these outfits for Jess, but what you’re wearing is MUCH better.”? Because that’s pretty much what I imagine happens.
  • Nick’s hair really DOES look nicer than normal during the conditioner fight.
  • “Water crackers are for adults. With adult cheese.”—Schmidt. This line made me laugh like an insane hyena. There is probably something wrong with me.
  • “I can’t hear anything you say when you wear that sweater, Schmidt. All I hear is ‘Cardigan. Cardigan. I wear a cardigan.'”—Nick. <3
  • Jess has some line about how “Jingle Bells” is a horrible song that doesn’t deserve to be played on the majestic instrument that is the handbells. For some reason I didn’t pay it much attention at first, but now that I’m thinking back on this episode, it was probably really funny.
  • I’m also a big fan of this Jess line, “We got a huge donation of handbells, which are très très dope.”

So what did you, dear reader, think about this episode? Did you hate it? Love it? Turn it off because you couldn’t handle the handbells? Also, if you know from whence the Jess outfit in the photo at the top came (I’m thinking ModCloth, but I haven’t taken the time to check because the overlords of the company I work for are demanding corrections on a workbook I’m editing BY THE END OF THE DAY.)  please do let me know. And if you’d like to buy if for me for Christmas, I would not return it. JUST SAYING.

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  • Melissa

    Seeing as I have to wait like forever (ie a day) to watch New Girl, I’m disgusted that none of you have beat me to commenting on these awesome recaps. But then it took me like 2 1/2 days to write my Once Upon a Time recap so maybe you’re all still tryptophaned out.

    Anyway, ya’ll this season of television has been like a cornucopia of guys  in all the new shows. There’s Jack and Nolan and Prince Charming and Sheriff Graham and Wade and Nick. It’s like Christmas. 

    Okay so like I was amused at first and loved the Goonies reference and then I freaking died when Schmidt was like “goose pimples. Each one, a memory.” I seriously laughed so hard I started crying and choking. 

    I will confess to having had a midori sour but I was like 17 and Joey & Ross were drinking straight up midori and I kind of wanted to try it but at that time I mixed every liquor with sours so that’s what I went with. i don’t know who fucking makes a pitcher of it.

    Also, Schmidt needs to lay off Nick. My car’s carburetor was rigged up to go like 4 ways it shouldn’t just to work and because Toyota didn’t make the light sockets anymore, my headlight was ducktaped in and it worked just fine. Simple fixes are awesome and add character.

  • Sarah (Seels)

    I liked this episode pretty well. I laughed a lot at the cardigan line at the end from Nick. I read the synopsis before the ep aired and thought “really? We’re like 8 eps into the series, and already the plot plan is a handbell thing?” Seemed like sort of scraping the barrel for story ideas. But…it wasn’t terrible.

    I laughed a LOT when Jess was like “THIS IS NOT MY WAR!” –something about that just cracked me up.

    And I loved Winston wearing that homemade hat at work.

    and…I have no idea how Tumblr works, seriously, but…I have been thinking about Schmidt’s Email Memos, so there’s that.

  • SJP

    Um, I loved this episode and your recap was made of pure awesomeness. Why? I think because it was kind of toned in the adorkable department which is weird given this episode’s premise. Still I thought everything worked perfectly.

    Also Winston has become my absolute favorite. I just love him and his fly under the radar self. Now before y’all jump all over me I also love Schmidt and his cardigan loving ways. That Modori Sours fight was made of PURE WIN. I could not stop laughing. I want to watch that fight on repeat forever.

    Also not gonna lie I kind of want to learn handbells now. Maybe Winston can take that talent and become a Salvation Army bell ringer? Actually, do they get paid or are they volunteers?

  • Bethany E. Larson

    Tumblr is quite easy. I PROMISE.

  • Bethany E. Larson


    And it really is. Thank you, TV gods.

  • Bethany E. Larson

    I happen to know that they are volunteers. And that we should all give them our monies. :)

  • Melissa

    Oh and I forgot to mention that while I don’t know if Winston himself was playing, people can play handbells that well. It was really annoying to watch those kids show me up at bell choir in elementary school.

  • Molly Kasperek

    First of all, right on with Zooey being in charge of her outfits. I don’t know if it’s true, but I could totally believe it.

    I loved Jess being so frustrated with the prank war but Shmidt was being mean because, come on, quick fixes are great sometimes. Even the plumber said so.

    And I want to like Schmidt so much more than I do. I think he’s funny and I want him to be as not great but just like acceptable as I found Deputy Leo and he’s just not there. I don’t know. I did like his need to stop and grab his “cardy” on the way to the bell concert.

    Oh, and I liked that they chose a solid pun for the bell group’s name. As it should be.

  • Bethany E. Larson

    Somehow I keep forgetting he was Deputy Leo. Which is probably good since it proves Max Greenfield is a good actor, but. I love Deputy Leo. And as much as I love Logan Echolls (which is A FREAKING LOT), I still think Veronica did Deputy Leo wrong.

  • Kimber

    Oh the outfit choices are TOTALLY Zooey’s own clothes. I have a feeling she and Jess are very, very similar people. Both adorable (no, I didn’t say adorkable). Jess did a lot of nervous singing-speaking this week, and I loved it!

    Also loved the conditioner argument between Schmidt and Nick. Your GIF just reminded me of how hilarious it was. Oh, Schmidt,  you really love your hair products, don’t you.

    This was the first episode where I actually enjoyed Winston (see, I’ve already stopped calling him “NotCoach”!).

  • Molly Kasperek

    He never does anything on New Girl that reminds me of Leo, it’s just that the first episode I watched I nicknamed him Deputy Douchebag. Consequently, they really need to bring back the Douchebag jar.

    And I definitely agree that Veronica wronged Leo, but no one shall ever compare to Logan (at least on that show). He was by far the best choice out of any of the guys she dated. Leo was #2, Troy 3 – he would’ve ranked higher if he wasn’t a drug dealer. And Donut was just the WORST.

  • Lemonade

    I liked seeing the more realistic adult sides of all the characters this week.  I too was cheering on Jess during her speech to Winston about being supportive to the students.  Plus, I could totally relate to Nick and Winston in their roof convo scene.  

    And as harsh as Schmidt was calling Nick a loser, he made a good point about Nick choosing to not do more with his life (and this is coming from a girl in pretty much the same boat as Nick and Winston job-wise).  And both actors played the subtle change in that scene beautifully.  Schmidt’s words clearly slipped out in the heat of the moment, and he knew he had crossed a line.  To me, it kinda showed the more mature, less douchey side of him.  And I’m really curious to learn more about the guys’ friendship history, especially after it was revealed Nick once swore he would never live with Schmidt.

    Okay, last three things: 1) I’m pretty sure the kid who played Hector is Paul from Nine Lives of Chloe King :( I’m still a lil sad that got cancelled.

    2) Seeing their black-lidded, public restroom-style toilet gave me flashbacks to my school days *shiver*
    3) If we ever make a drinking game, scratch that, WHEN we make a drinking game for this show, I’m thinking Midori Sours should be the mandatory drink to play along with. (And Boxed Wine will be saved for the Hart of Dixie drinking game!)  Oh, and there should be a rule that you can only play while wearing a cardy. ;)  

  • Sarah (Seels)

    And you have to take a drink whenever Jess tilts her head to the side and says “Guyssssss,” :)

  • Melissa

    I missed this on the first viewing but the soap dispenser doesn’t work. There’s a wooden spoon in it that Nick dips to get soap and then puts back. Awesome.

  • Molly Kasperek

    That totally was the kid from 9 Lives. I noticed it when i was watching but immediately forgot. Good call!

  • Lemonade

    Oh yeah, I noticed that when I watched it (though I had to rewind to be sure), but forgot to say it.  That was such a great little touch for them to add. :)   

  • ahow628

    Seriously, can all you guys please tell @marlene1009:twitter  to stop with the “adorkable”? She said it no less than 5 times during Elf over the weekend. It is driving me crazy.

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