New Girl’s “The Box” is literally…a box (yay!) (3.5)

Other potential titles for this recap/episode: 

“Keep it in a box: and other life lessons we learn from hoarders”

“What does it mean to be a good person?”

“I’m so glad the title wasn’t a vagina joke…no wait, they went there”

“Winston and the Candelabra of Redemption”

“New Girl 3.5: A sampling of small characters that are funnier than our heroes”

“When Rabbi’s Attack!”

My Rating: A

Suggested Dinner Pairing: Somethin’ fancy! Spend all your money on foie gras and Kobe beef burgers.  If you’re in Tucson, I say here.

I have this thing about good opening scenes.  New Girl has become one of my go-to examples of openers that provide us with the basic premise (and usually most storylines) for the episode regularly before we hit the opening credits (or shortly thereafter).  Here’s what we learn:

  • Schmidt has puffy guilt-eyes from lack of sleep, still feeling terrible about the death of Cescmidtabeth.  He asks Winston: “Do you think I’m a good person?” Bam. Schmidt’s goal for the episode, 15 seconds in.
  • A mysterious man (who gets mysterious music!) brings a bag full of money to the door for Nick from his late father’s estate.  How will Nick deal with his newfound wealth?  Bam. Let’s find out.
  • Nick owes Winston 1900 bucks.  Bam.

I love the mysterious man, guys.  He’s like some stock character pulled from a gangster movie.  (Moderate effort to research reveals: James Wellington is often cast as “Dealer” or “Stickman” and the occasional “Sleaze.”)  Jess plays along with a winky: “There’s nobody here by that name” then “Run, Nick, run!”

There's a lot of running in this episode...

Action shot, Nick has nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide!

What would you do with eight grand worth of dollar dollar bills, ya’ll?  That’s right.  Save for retirement, children.

Credits Roll!

Cut to the mall.  Nick is spending like a college student with parental support on some of the following:

  • Lacrosse stick
  • Sword (x2)
  • Giant bucket o’ popcorn
  • Shoes (x4+)
  • Massage
  • Fancy-people glamor shots

Winston and Jess have a little chat about how hilarious it is to try to talk to Nick about money.  Surely asking Nick for the 1900 dollars he owes Winston can’t be so bad?  Muahahahahah..(that is Winston cackling at the thought.)

But of course, Jess does not take his advice, and pretty much immediately confronts Nick about what he should do with the  B.O.M (Bag o’Money).  He comes back with a phrase that…actually does make sense:

“I’m going to keep my money where my mouth is.  Under my nose.”

Start a bank account? Nah.  That’s just a silly line thrown in for foreshadowing. Nick has a box full of stuff he doesn’t want to deal with.  Bills, bills, and more bills.  Yay, adulthood!  Yay, hoarding!  Yay…dealing with difficult financial anxiety by using the out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach.

Meanwhile in Schmidtopolis: Schmidt turns to his Rabbi for help.  Is he a good person? How can he be a better person?  Cameo by the lovely Jon Lovtiz who advises that he maybe think about someone other than himself for once, geez.

He leaves the rabbinical therapy session wondering why he couldn’t just have been Catholic instead.

“A couple of hail Mary’s and I’d be off the hook.”

Lol.  Yep, become Catholic and you’ll never feel guilty again.  Anywho, the universe throws Schmidt a biker choking on gum, and Schmidt performs a quick guilt-squashing Heimlich.  He saves the biker’s life!  See, he is a good person.

The selfish hero

Man: “Schmidt, you are a good man! Go forth and rejoice…and also call 911…please.”

Quick flash to Jess who has delved into Nick’s box, and begins to pay off some of his bills.

Quick flash then to Nick and Winston, eatin’ some tasty tasty sliders of brotherhood. Guess who just made their Valentine’s Day car for next year?

Alternate "I've got a beef with you, and it fills my heart."

Alternate “I’ve got a beef with you, and it fills my heart.”

Of course, it’s a ploy to ask Nick for his money.  Good try, Winston.  Even your terrible pun could not grease that money out of Nick’s hands.

Money-constipation face.  Urggghhhhh....

Money-constipation face. Urggghhhhh….

They argue.  Nick says: “Stay out of my box!” and Jess walks in all nonchalant like, clearly on Nick’s side of the “box” situation.  Nick runs off to drown his anger in booze, and Winston catches Jess running back to hide the evidence of Project: Box Cleanup.

And you know what, Winston uses this as an opportunity to try out one more tactic to fulfill his storyline for the episode: blackmail.  “I’ll make you a deal.  I’ll keep my mouth shut, if you pay me the money Nick owes me.”

Cue slap-fight.  Hehehe.

Anti-blackmail fighting maneuvers.

Anti-blackmail fighting maneuvers.

In Gif form!:  (from Vulture)

Cut to Drunk Nick spouting some philosophical wisdom:

“What is money anyway? It’s just paper that some king on the mountain said was worth something, you know.  Gold I understand. It’s shiny and you can make jewelry out of it.  Silver, put a werewolf in front of me, he’s dead.  Brass, creates the bells that make sound throughout the land.  But we kill each other for paper.  I gotta tell you man, that’s sad.”

Actually quite poetic, I think.  Then, we have the first of two random crazy homeless tropes–I mean people, followed by Schmidt the Savior, entering on a beam of light.

With his newfound status as a “good man” (unconfirmed), Schmidt explains to Nick the idea of Tzedakah in Jewish culture, the act of giving to the needy.  Nick balks at first, but then starts to realize this could be a bit like like putting the money in a box he’ll never see again.  Win!  (This carries forward the theme throughout the episode of doing well for others as a way to self-gain.)

Jess, on the other hand, is really trying to help Nick, however she can.  We snap to her at the Parking Violation Bureau (scary), where she tries to un-pay Nick’s parking tickets.  The PVB agent is super sassy and throws the sarcasm switch at her admittedly ridiculous request, girrrrl you are funny.

The next morning, Nick (still drunk!) is about to give Winston his own money back in some interpretation of *tzatziki which leads to BIG COUPLE FIGHT!

To summarize:

  • Nick: Where’s my money?
  • Jess: I used it to pay your bills.  Sorry!
  • Nick: (storms out, angrily)
  • Jess:  You have a right to be angry.
  • Nick: Stop trying to fix me, woman!
  • Jess: You are seriously in a metric shit tonne of debt.
  • Nick: Stuff in the box doesn’t count.
  • Jess:  It sort of does.
  • Nick: It’s my system, and I say it doesn’t.
  • Jess: Whatever, go to prison, I was just trying to help.
  • Nick: What if I went into your box–
  • Jess: Ugg…did you really have to say that?
  • Nick: One sec, need to get over the sexy reference. (pause) Okay, still mad!  You know what?  I’m going to “help” you, too (throws vintage purses that are not sexy because they do not have gems out the window).

Lol, did he just find Jess’s “night peanuts” on his way to the purse purge?  Seriously, though, I enjoyed the dramedy balance in this scene.  Dealing with money is a big part of relationships.  “Fixing” people vs. helping them.  Facing issues vs. putting them in a box.  It’s tough stuff, and the dialogue here worked for me.

In the end, Jess writes Nick a check for all of the money she spent.

Somewhere in there, Schmidt goes to visit the bike messenger he “saved” to get some confirmation that he is a good person.  Another in a series of scene-stealing small characters this episode, the messenger get’s some super great lines like:  “Some say that moral integrity is the cornerstone of humanity” and  “Hey man, don’t shoot the bike messenger.”

Meanwhile, a man who was raising money for cancer kids got hit by a bus sits in a full body cast in the next bed over:

Bad things happen to good people.  Good job, cancer kids.

Bad things happen to good people. Good job, cancer kids.

What is the world coming to?  Nothing makes sense!  Why be good!?  Arghhh!  Schmidt runs away. Run run run.  Does anyone else think his hands look weird while he’s running?

He runs all the way to a bar mitzvah class to confront his Rabbi.  More slap-fighting ensues in Slapfight II: Revenge of the Rabbi.

Slapfight II - Revenge of the Rabbi

“You know what I realized?  Nothing matters.  And that’s great, because if nothing matters, we can do whatever we want, Rabbi!”


He get’s carried out by some Jewish thugs. Hehe.

YOLO: A popular phrase used to justify bad behavior.

YOLO: A popular phrase used to justify bad behavior.

Back beneath the loft Jess is reunited with her purses in the hands of crazy homeless person number two, when she gets a call from the bank.  Nick tried to open an account using a check in Jess’ name and a bag of money.  They were, naturally, suspicious.  Can’t see why.

Turns out an old dog can learn new tricks.  Awww.  And in the end, Jess rewards him by getting a little crazy at the poor-bank-lady-in-a-loveless-marriage to get her to waive an eight-dollar transaction fee.  Awww.  Give and take, with a side of crazy.

Back at the loft Winston finally gives Schmidt the phrase he has been looking for all day: “Look Schmidt, stop.  You’re a good man.  You did a bad thing, doesn’t make you bad.  You just have to try to be better.”

He gives him a…candelabra?  Turns out that money he got from Nick went to good use.  Oh, Winston.  You’ve got your fuzzy little adorable nose all over these storylines, and we love you for it.

And in case you missed it:

Things in the Box:

[Laura: gratuitous Brad Pitt is gratuitous]
  • The deed to an old Mercury Cougar (Cue B-Roll footage! Looks like the car was lost during a trip to Cancun.  Ha!)
  • Bills (Parking tickets, etc.)
  • License to Lifeguard
  • Tax records for FatFace, Inc.
  • Jury Duty Notices

Nick’s angry/drunk translation guide:

  • woodwords = woodworks
  • *tzatziki = tzedakah
  • bobby’s pins = bobby pins

New girl airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on FOX.  You can catch it on Hulu + or the day after new episodes premiere.

Featured image via Hypable