Monday, May 12, 2014

New Girl 3.22: "Dance"

“That means he was seven when ‘Good Will Hunting’ came out. Seven, Cece!”

“Dance” was the first episode of “New Girl” to try and deal with the more medium/long term effects of the Jess and Nick breakup. Coolidge Middle School is having a dance, and newly minted Vice Principal Jess is determined that it’s going to be the best dance ever. Obviously a school dance is going to dredge up feelings about her breakup with Nick, but in actuality, Jess really doesn’t have much time to wallow in this episode, because things keep going wrong at the dance. It turns out that all of the roomies (except Coach, because Coach is always awesome) are pretty terrible chaperones. It was a goofy episode in the way that only an episode of “New Girl” can be, which means that overall, I approve!

Like I said, in this episode, Jess is planning a dance for her middle school kids. When she mentions this to the guys (minus Nick), their reaction is to want to hug her. They think that Jess getting to into wanting to plan this dance has to be tied somehow to her breakup with Nick. The woman is painting a banner that says “Love is forever and ever and ever” (with twelve “evers”). It’s kind of sad, really. She wants to celebrate the innocence of early love and make all the kids think that they really will find that “forever” love. Jess didn’t fare too well at her own middle school dances (neither did I, Jess, neither did I), and she wants better for the kids at her school. Jess will be fighting an uphill battle, though. She chose teachers who have specifically never volunteered for any extra assignments before to be chaperones, and as you might expect, this leads to a very unenthusiastic group of chaperones. They don’t even like the “Chaperone” hats Jess made for them.

Jess should have had a clue that things would go wrong, because it’s a rare middle schooler who doesn’t feel horribly awkward at dances. It’s kind of a rite of passage, right? Anyway, at school on the day of the dance, Jess talks to a girl named Wendy. Wendy is wearing a scary shark t-shirt, and she doesn’t intend to change into anything different for the dance. She doesn’t want to go to the dance, but her parents are forcing her. Jess tries to convince Wendy that the dance will be fun. Wendy seems dubious. That evening, when Jess arrives to finish preparations for the dance, she finds that the door to the gym is padlocked. The custodian says that he didn’t put the lock on the door, so he can’t help. Since it looks like there may be no dance happening, Jess’ handpicked chaperone team starts to disperse almost immediately. Jess calls the bar for reinforcements.

Before Jess’ call, the guys had been sitting around the bar with Cece as bartender. They’re giving Cece a hard time about dating a twenty-year-old “boy.” They try to make the case that they are all “men,” but as we’ll see through the rest of the episode, they aren’t exactly the most mature man to ever do man stuff. Anyway, since the chaperones are mostly gone, Jess calls the guys (and Cece) for help, and they all want to prove they are manly enough to be middle school dance chaperones. Coach was already going to be a chaperone (since he works at the school and all), so he takes on the job of chaperone commander, of sorts. He gives all the guys jobs to do. Winston is supposed to take all the sexual tension out of the room just by being himself (it’s a special talent of his that Jess and Nick have been using to make their living situation less awkward), Schmidt is supposed to man the refreshment table, and Nick is supposed to patrol the parking lot for stragglers.

Each of the guys fails at their assignment in rather epic fashion. I’ll get to that in a minute, though. What’s important to know is that while all the epic failure is going on, the dance keeps being sabotaged on a greater level. The power goes out, and Jess finds glue in the breaker box. Jess wastes some time trying to find the culprit, and if the locked door didn’t make everyone lose interest in the dance, the power outage got to the rest of them. The whole event is kind of miserable. The culprit turns out to be Wendy. She’s afraid that none of the boys will dance with her, and she’ll look like an idiot. Jess and Cece give Wendy a good talk about how boys are stupid, but sometimes they’re worth it anyway.

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that each of the guys fail epically at their chaperone assignments. Winston was supposed to diffuse all sexual tension. Somehow, though, he’s teenage girl bait. Winston spends most of the episode running from an ever-increasing crowd of teenage girls. Schmidt gets into a war of words with an especially precocious teen. Schmidt tries to be the adult in the situation (if it’s possible to be an adult after repeatedly insulting a teenager), but they ultimately decide (at Schmidt’s insistence, of course) to resolve their dispute via a footrace.

Nick is probably the worst chaperone failure of the bunch. He does indeed discover two stragglers in the parking lot, but in an effort to infiltrate their ranks from within, he pretends to be a slacker student and gets way too involved in their games. They first have a contest involving drinking a mix of every type of soda from the machine, and they ultimately decide to play around with a nearby shopping cart. By the end of the episode, the parking lot is full-on pandemonium. Schmidt’s footracing, Winston’s trying to escape the screaming girls, and Nick’s being pushed around in the shopping cart. Coach sees the pandemonium and immediately puts a stop to it.

Once all the craziness in the parking lot has been calmed down, Jess and Cece have an idea for how to save the dance. The guys are going to provide the musical entertainment. What ensues is a rather awesome rap battle between Winston, Nick, and Schmidt. I liked Nick’s performance the most. He tried to do a Chicago shout-out, then read the room and realized none of the kids would care about Chicago. Since they’re still in middle school, the vast majority of them are all, presumably, from Los Angeles. Anyway, the whole thing ended, as good “New Girl” episodes do, with lots of joyful dancing. Nick and Jess even dance together, which I hope is a step towards them becoming more comfortable with each other again.

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