Megan Fox settles into the loft this week, and things go pretty much the way you’d expect. Nick doesn’t want Reagan to know how bizarre he is, so he hasn’t peed in four days. His obsession is driving Schmidt and Cece crazy. Winston is concerned that she won’t fully integrate with the group. Reagan’s primary qualities are still Sexiness, Aloofness, Not-Jessness, and Bisexuality.
But, hey, there are certainly worse fates.
Reagan apparently comes into the loft aware of everyone’s history and essential natures. Last week, she instantly pegged Schmidt as a former fat kid; this week, she provides a useful key of the gang’s primary characteristics. Nick’s deal is that he “honest to God might be 50,” Schmidt’s deal is “he had to Shazam ‘Stairway to Heaven,’” and Winston’s deal is that he’s “been dumped a lot.”
And honestly, this isn’t all that appealing. The Reagan who sums you up in one short line — the coolly competent, utterly boring “lone wolf” — is not a fun addition to this group. This episode’s good moments, though, are in the few sequences wherein Reagan can’t help but descend into loftie madness. Even though she knows that they’re an insane, interdependent group of people who suffer from arrested development (and probably a kidney infection, in the case of Nick), she somehow finds herself falling into their wackadoo patterns. That’s fun! And endearing. And it’s a dynamic that Jess, Queen Wackadoo, can’t bring, so it’s nice to see it happening here.
Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough of those moments to elevate “Wig” to the surreal levels of earlier Jess-free episodes. It’s fine. It has some nice bits. But it feels half-baked.
The primary story of “Wig” is that Nick is a Walking Trash Pile, and he’s just self-aware enough to want to hide this truth from Reagan. That’s why he hasn’t peed in four days, and also why he’s taken to eating in Cece and Schmidt’s room, so Reagan can’t see that he’s got the table manners of your standard 18-month-old. Schmidt and Cece are evidently in a point in their relationship where they need to have sex with each other at every possible free moment (and particularly at meal times?), so Nick’s interruptions are especially unwelcome. (Seriously, though: When do they eat?)
Desperate to disrupt Nick’s all-encompassing Reagan obsession, Schmidt decides that his best chance of getting Cece the biscuits she so badly wants is to feed Nick a small, telling (fake) detail about Reagan. Maybe that will puncture his infatuation.
While Schmidt and Cece consider the most effective lie to tell Nick, Winston’s off jogging his way into Reagan’s heart. Determined to make sure she fully assimilates to loft culture, Winston tracks Reagan down while she’s out running. In classic Winston obliviousness — one of the few consistent character elements Winston retains from episode to episode — he doesn’t pick up Reagan’s cues about how to deal with her not-yet-ex-girlfriend, Camilla, whom they stumble upon. Camilla is thrilled to learn that Reagan will be in town for a full month and jogs away cheerfully; Reagan angrily tells Winston that she actually has to dump Camilla now, which is something she’s never done before. But never fear, because Winston’s got this. After all, as Reagan well knows, being dumped is his deal.
In Nick’s bar, Winston and Reagan do a trial run with Winston in the role of dumpee. This is a familiar place for him to be — as he tells Reagan, he’s been dumped “on Santa’s lap,” in “the stadium at Iron Chef,” in almost every flavor of airplane economy seating, and, somewhat troublingly, “while covered in butterflies.” Reagan does all right, but Winston’s over-the-top performance as “girl getting dumped” is logically spot-on.
Frustrated and incapable of doing any kind of actual emotional labor, Reagan decides it’s easier to just make a deal with Winston: If he breaks up with Camilla, she’ll submit to a 20-minute roommate dinner. This will surely be a satisfying experience for everyone involved!
So Winston sits down with Camilla, which swiftly leads to him both correcting her — his Shirley Temple is actually a “Virgin Denzel” — and overidentifying with her, the dumpee, about how unfair it is to send a relative stranger to handle a breakup. In a rage, Winston and Camilla storm off to confront Reagan.
Back in the loft, Schmidt and Cece have persuaded Nick that Reagan’s hair is actually a wig. It’s a line carefully calibrated to undo Nick’s belief that Reagan is a superhuman goddess without triggering his oversensitive conspiracy-theorist tendencies. Of course, that is an impossible middle ground to find, and Nick waltzes into Schmidt and Cece’s room to discuss the Wig Issue.
Caught up in Wig Conspiracy Mania, Nick proceeds to raid Reagan’s room while Schmidt and Cece look on in dismay. The initial discovery — a drawer full of ribbons — is suggestive, but only until Nick realizes that a drawer full of ribbons must belong to Jess. The pile of fake IDs, though, is definitely cause for question, as is a photo of a young boy. “This woman is like an orange!” Nick yells, exasperated. “You peel a layer — there’s another layer there!” Schmidt points out that he’s describing an onion, but it’s no good. Nick has set off into a conspiracy theory, with Cece now along for the harebrained ride.
When Reagan returns mid-raid, Nick and Cece turn on the offensive. Ever the frosty outsider, Reagan answers with offhanded disdain. The fake IDs help her get into hospitals, which hate pharmaceutical salespeople. The picture of the young boy is actually Reagan with an unfortunate childhood haircut. Cece is forced to admit that she went “full Nick,” and it looks like Reagan is once again set apart from the lofties, dismissive and detached.
Up until this point, I sailed along “Wig” with a benign disinterest. Reagan is chilly and not particularly interesting, which makes Nick’s crippling attraction for her plausible but not endearing. The same goes for Winston — if you don’t buy Reagan as a worthwhile way for him to spend his time, the plot doesn’t pull you in. And while I like Cece and Schmidt together, if you don’t buy into the sex-biscuits bit, there’s not much left to hold onto in this episode.
But the encouraging moment comes at the end. Camilla flies into the loft, furious at Reagan, then Nick and the whole gang band together to construct an elaborate and very goofy explanation for Reagan’s behavior based on the suspicious items from her room. The scene has an “I am Spartacus!” vibe, except the rallying cry is more along the lines of, “I AM Suzy Shimizu!” Cece does a terrible job, and the “we’re actually a Japanese crime family” backstory is hilariously ill-advised. But it’s also quite sweet.
The final moments of “Wig” are a surprisingly helpful encapsulation of my hopes and concerns for Reagan. On the one hand, there’s the sexy Reagan who eats a burrito like a monster. I’m supposed to find her interesting, but she doesn’t excite me. On the other, the Reagan who claims to be a part of a very silly conman plot, and who is forced to stand outside and listen as her ex-girlfriend destroys all of her belongings … that Reagan has promise. Which one will show up next week? We’ll have to wait and see.