Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Girl 4.06: "Background Check"

“I know exactly what I have to do. I’m going to tell her it’s mine. Yes. Maybe I’m not supposed to be a cop. There’s no reason you should lose your job too.”

“Background Check” was an amusing enough episode of “New Girl,” although it wasn’t really anything to write home about. Maybe I’ve outgrown the show? These folks are a year or two older than me and I am 31 with a great job and my own apartment. They should really have their shit together more than they do, I think. I identified with them as a grad student in my late 20’s, but not as much now. I guess that’s an appropriate segue for talking more about the substance of this episode, because the catalyst to all the events is Winston actually trying to get his shit together. He’s in the police academy, and a home visit is part of the required background check. He’s really, really hoping his roommates won’t blow this chance for him. And of course, since this is a comedy, things do get pretty dicey for a little while.

As we start getting into the more recap-y part of what we do here, can I just pause so say a brief RIP to the “New Girl” title sequence? Yes, I think Cece and Coach should definitely be in the title sequence, but why did the new sequence have to be so generic. I also miss hearing some of the lyrics to the song. I think music is so central to who Zooey Deschannel (or at least her public persona) is that it is kind of wrong to take her voice out of the title sequence. Anyway, moving on from that, at the beginning of the episode, Schmidt is freaking out because he read Jess’ texts and learned that Cece went on a date. This freak-out is interrupted by Winston telling the gang that he has his background check, and he needs everyone’s help to make a good impression. Coach had been planning a trip to the outlet mall, and the other guys think that sounds great, but Jess convinces them that they need to help Winston. Jess is only pleased until she realizes it’s a home visit. Then she gets a little uncomfortable.

Jess is uncomfortable because she believes she has a very large bag of meth in her room. She tells everyone about Winston about this, but she doesn’t want to tell Winston because she figures he’s probably already close to failing out of the police academy, and this could be the final straw. Apparently, she bought an upholstered footstool at a garage sale once, and when she opened the top up, there was what looked like a bag of meth inside. She’s kept in in her closet ever since, because she figured nobody but her would go in her closet. There’s a lot of slapstick around the guys trying to re-hide the meth. Nick is a terrible liar, so he doesn’t want to know the final location. Then they spill the meth everywhere and frantically try to clean it up as Winston and the Sergeant doing the background check are on their way upstairs.

By the time Winston and the Sergeant arrive at the loft, all of the meth has been shoved in Jess’ bra, and the roomies are arranged on the couch. Jess has issues keeping the meth in place, so she hightails it to the bathroom. While Winston is checking on her, the Sergeant asks everyone why Winston would be an asset to the LAPD. Coach starts a story about how Winston mentors a kid at the Boys and Girls’ Club, and the rest of the guys roll with it until a fictional kid named Duquan has been created. The Sergeant wants to corroborate the story, so Coach goes off to find the hypothetical Duquan who is waiting to be picked up at a hypothetical bus stop for his hypothetical regular Saturday visit to the loft.

Cece arrives because Jess left her a voice mail asking how to get rid of meth, and while Cece is helping Jess with “girl problems” in the bathroom, the Sergeant asks the guys to show her around the loft. As they are all in Nick and Schmidt’s room, they hear a lot of noise coming from the bathroom. This is because Cece and Jess are trying to flush the meth down the toilet and it’s not working well. The toilet is clogged and flooding. Schmidt goes to help and of course he decides to mop the floor up with his shirt (not that I’m exactly complaining). Winston is eventually drawn into the chaos, too, and he’s not pleased when he hears the word meth. The biggest problem, though, is that Nick has been left alone with the Sergeant. He just starts singing “Landslide” tunelessly, because he is afraid that if he says anything, he will talk about the meth and Winston’s career will be finished.

The Sergeant wants to talk to Nick alone, so she closes the door and Schmidt and Cece are left out in the hall to talk about Cece’s date with a guy named Paul. Schmidt thinks he sounds like a normal guy not worthy of Cece until Cece says it was actually Mark Paul Gosslear. Schmidt is stunned at the idea of Cece dating Zach Morris until Cece says she was just joking. On the other side of the door, Nick just starts reciting all of the bad things he has done when he was a kid, because in his mind, he’s honestly responding to the Sergeant’s request to tell her “everything.” Meanwhile, there’s a really awkward scene where Coach tries to convince some kids at a playground to come back to the loft to be Duquan. He seems like a total peedo, and it’s kind of uncomfortable and funny at the same time. Coach quickly realizes that the whole thing was a really bad idea, and he drives off.

In the bathroom, Jess and Winston have a pretty emotional conversation. Winston is upset nobody told him about the meth, because he thinks he could have helped somehow. Jess is forced to admit that she didn’t think Winston would actually ever become a cop. She thought he’d get too freaked out. Winston is disappointed that his friends don’t really believe in him, but he decides he wants to take the high road and take the blame for the meth so that Jess doesn’t lose her job too. Winston and Jess end up having a sort of Sparticus moment with the Sergeant where they both insist the meth is theirs. The Sergeant goes to investigate, and much to everyone’s relief, what seemed to be meth is actually just aquarium rocks. Winston is one of the best cadets at the academy, so the Sergeant passes him. She urges him to move, and her eye roll when Coach chooses that moment to walk in with “Duquan” is pretty epic.

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