This week’s New Girl is pretty funny! I am so pleased about that, I might get up and jump around in my comfortable I’m-not-having-sex-tonight outfit!
Okay, probably not. But it is a strong episode!
The setup, though, is inane. Winston and Nick can’t decide where to go to brunch, and it’s the doofiest, stupidly “Millennial” discussion you can imagine. (But frankly, it’s kind of real, too.) Reagan, newly integrated into the group, is frustrated with their inability to choose and resolves to make this a larger lesson in the necessity of Making Decisions. So Reagan tells Nick and Winston that tonight, at 9 p.m., she will have sex with one of them. But they have to decide which one of them will have sex with her.
And look, this is pretty dumb. It’s made clear very quickly that Reagan has no intention of actually doing this, and is just trying to force Nick and Winston to make a choice about something. More accurately, she just wants to mess with them. This is dumb for any number of reasons, not least of which is that there’s not a ton of evidence for Nick being an especially indecisive character. He’s weird, sure. But he usually commits to his choices. (Take for instance, the last few episodes, in which Nick had no trouble committing to his crush on Reagan and deciding to invite her to join the gang. Or how about Nick’s speedy decision to have a baby with his cousin? Or take on a boss role at the bar?)
Given the shaky premise that Nick is indecisive, and the fact that the idea does make some sense for Winston’s character, what follows is a pretty entertaining half-hour of television.
While Schmidt and Cece make sure that Reagan isn’t actually going to keep her end of this sex bet (“This is not an ’80s summer-camp movie!”), Nick and Winston have some initial discussions about who deserves the sex most. As it turns out, back in middle school, Winston had dibs on someone named Cindy Delagarza, whom Nick was then found French-ing with at an eighth-grade dance. Due to this early betrayal of dibs, the guys decide that Winston should be the one who gets to have sex with Reagan. Nick knew that French-ing would come back to haunt him, and he’s correct.
Nick and Winston proudly inform Reagan that they’ve made a decision, and thanks to Cindy Delagarza, Winston will be the winner. Sowing the seeds of her eventual reneging, Reagan coolly tells Winston how to prep for their night together. In addition to bringing his “A game,” she tells Winston not to eat for two hours beforehand, asks whether he has any previous injuries, and mentions that he should bring something to “numb his mouth.” Apparently Reagan likes her sexual partners to have the drooling, slack-jawed look of a dental patient, but you know — to each her own.
So then we get a few scenes where we watch as, inevitably, the fast and easy decision to let Winston be the one who bangs Reagan falls apart. Notably, Reagan herself is the one who undermines Nick’s decision. She achieves this by questioning the wisdom of allowing Winston to have “dibs” on someone for years without acting, and also by delivering a sexed-up version of a pharmaceutical sales pitch for a hepatitis C drug. Mmmm double-blind studies. The idea that Reagan convinces Nick to stand up for his chance with her also sets up their eventual romantic relationship, which is something that’s clearly been in the works but has seemed nevertheless dubious. Guess what, Nick: You might actually have a chance!
While Reagan tears apart Nick’s commitment to the dibs (and also suggests that such a thing as a singular “dib” might exist — heresy!), Winston and Aly talk about his soon-to-be sex with Reagan. Sorry, let me back up. Winston is actually at work. At his job. As a cop.
Anyway, Winston freaks out about bringing his A game to the sex-with-Reagan thing, and needs some pep talk about his sexual worth. Disgusted, but trying to deal with him, Aly agrees to exchange compliments with Winston. She tells him he has “kind eyes”; he says she has a very attractive neck. Aly quickly and correctly points out that, no, neck compliments are terrible compliments.
In the midst of all this, Nick calls to say the decision is off, so Winston rushes home from his job as a Los Angeles police officer to have a fight with his roommate about who gets to have sex with their other roommate. Yeah. I am so happy to see you at your job, Winston! But this sequence makes eminently clear why you should never have been hired in the first place. I get that we’re in wild and wacky New Girl land where the rules are made up and the points don’t matter, but maybe don’t give your character a job laden with such fraught political and ethical consequences.
As Nick and Winston deal with their very odd prisoner’s dilemma, Schmidt and Cece go out to look for a wedding venue. This idea may not feel especially fresh, but the whole plot was exactly the right amount of silly and fun and fast for me. After checking out several undesirable options, Schmidt steers Cece into the Lisbon, which is out of their price range but, as Cece says, is “so beautiful it’s like I’m inside Cate Blanchett.”
While they think about it, Schmidt and Cece are interrupted by two horrible people, Benjamin and Mimi, who were distinctly horrible to Schmidt back when he was fat. And I’ll say this about New Girl: It is so great at writing jerks. Some of the best bits of “The Decision” come in these scenes. I love, for instance, Cece’s ill-advised decision to make her relationship with Schmidt more romantic by claiming that they’re cousins (?!). My favorite is the singular deep burn of defining Benjamin and Mimi’s awfulness by having Benjamin proclaim, “Maybe it’s just us, but we love Pixar. We’re NERDS!” How it is possible to write such a seemingly innocuous line that nevertheless makes me feel such deep loathing for these people, I do not know. But it’s glorious.
In spite of Cece’s willingness to drop all their savings on this place in order to get back at Benjamin, Schmidt and Cece have an almost-too-sweet moment and realize they have each other, so they don’t need fancy things. Time to RSVP for Cece and Schmidt’s wedding! It will be held in a warehouse soon to be abandoned by a failed startup company, and it will no doubt take place during Nielsen sweeps.
Meanwhile, the Winston versus Nick sex fight breaks down along predictable lines back at the loft. Once again incapable of deciding, they push the choice back onto Reagan with the lazy but smartly self-aware justification that, “It’s 2016, you’re a lady, your decision is important to us.” As they talk it out, though, Reagan and Nick push Winston to realize that he actually likes his partner Aly. This plot somehow feels both obvious and out of the blue, but it’s also endearing. Aly seems nice! Even though she has a new boyfriend who works as … an agent for animal actors? And boy, that had better be a setup for next week, because I have a sneaking suspicion that Nick’s commentary on his career would be quite satisfying.
This leaves Nick as the winner of Reagan’s sex bet, but in further support for their romantic development, he decides that if he’s going to get together with Reagan, this is not the way to do it. Good for you, Nick. And I must say, your I’m-not-having-sex-tonight outfit looks very comfortable.
“The Decision” certainly has flaws. The entire premise feels unmoored, and as per usual, Winston is all over the place. But this was the most I’ve liked Reagan so far, and it’s because of a small but vital shift in her role. Last week, she was still in “coolly aloof and separate” mode; now, she’s “coolly aloof and manipulative.” This might seem like a distinction without much useful difference, but it’s so much better to have Reagan invested in roommate stories, even if it’s just to mess with everybody else. This also felt like the first episode in a long time that wasn’t constantly looking at the hole in the room where Jess used to be. All right, new New Girl. You got me.