New Girl Review: “The Box” (Season 3, Episode 5)

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But what of Schmidt? What of Winston? Let’s ignore Winston for now, as the writers seem happy to do, and focus on Schmidt. He’s still reeling from the break up with Cece and Elizabeth and undergoing something of a spiritual crisis – is he a good person?

His rabbi (Jon Lovitz! Jon Lovitz!) isn’t much help but, on the way home, he saves a cyclist’s life. This awakens a sense of higher power in Schmidt, who embraces the more charitable and holy aspects of his usually non-observant Jewish faith. He suggests that Nick donates his box money to charity and Nick, in a drunken haze, agrees.

He attempts to give Winston the money that he is owed, but finds that Jess paid off a lot of his bills and fines behind his back, and there isn’t any money left. That scene, by the way, is the full extent of Winston’s involvement in this episode.

Jess and Nick have an argument, and Schmidt visits the cyclist in hospital. Seeing the other patients in the ward, Schmidt has another spiritual awakening – just as sudden as his previous one – and realizes that there are no good or bad people, just winners and losers. The cyclist attempts to dissuade him from this trail of thought, but to no avail – Schmidt returns to the rabbi to confront him with his findings.

It was great to see Schmidt become Schmidt again, but two spiritual awakenings in one episode? Really? It felt too much like trying to reorient his character before the end of the episode, to make way for the slapstick chase around the rabbinical school. Schmidt’s whole arc in this episode felt like a build up to a punchline at the end, when he tells Winston what happened to him. That’s it. Then Winston buys him a candelabra. Like I say, Winston doesn’t have much to do here.

Nick and Jess end with having learned a little more about each other’s world view, but nothing too major. That’s “The Box” to a T, really – we learn a little more about these people, see a little more of the characters, but nothing too major. Not every episode can be as funny as “Halloween,” or “Relaunch,” or “Parking Spot.” Not every episode needs the earth-shaking consequences of “Chicago,” or “Quick-Hardening Caulk.” Sometimes, an episode is just a placeholder for the week, and “The Box” is one of those. Not terrible, but not all that great either. A mediocre New Girl is still better than 80% of everything else on TV nowadays, so don’t get too depressed.

Random Robservations:

  • Jon Lovitz. Fresh from all that casting speculation about the remake of The Crow, he’s great here.
  • Jon Lovitz again.
  • Please give Winston something to do already!
  • Schmidt’s song, instead of calling 911, was hysterical.
  • I’d like the handbag tramp and Jess to become friends, or for handbag tramp to get his own spinoff.
  • Same with Jon Lovitz.