'New Girl' recap: 'Dance' like nobody's watching

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Before it could even begin, the dance seemed like it was already over when Jess found a bike lock on the school’s gymnasium door and watched as her colleagues bailed. As always, Jess called on the loftmates and Cece to come to her rescue. After Winston sustained a minor injury from a “manly” chest-bump with Schmidt, they headed over and got the dance off to a rollicking, One Direction-scored start. (Presumably, the bar was left abandoned and customers were free to pour their own booze willy-nilly. Where were Ben Falcone and Jon Taffer when we needed them?) Coach got in proper beast mode, handing out assignments to the roomies: Schmidt would oversee snacks since Diabetic Amy needed no more — but also no less! — than two cookies, Winston would monitor the dance floor because he was in the habit of saying, “Nobody’s gettin’ pregnant tonight — that’s what I say on all my dates,” and Nick would skulk around the parking lot and look for stragglers because, let’s face it, he wasn’t really chaperone material. In fact, he couldn’t even sprint 10 feet down the hall before he had to take a break. Ohhhhh, Nick.

As you can imagine, things went downhill pretty much immediately. The aforementioned giggling girls couldn’t resist Winston’s irrepressible heat (see Dotables) and his “cool mustache.” (It couldn’t have helped that that ultimate teen aphrodisiac “Call Me Maybe” was playing on the speakers.) Elsewhere, Schmidt got into a snit with a tween who called him a “flamer” and challenged the kid to a parking-lot foot race. Outside, Nick was slugging (spiked?) slurpees and setting off fireworks with the no-goodniks.

The ultimate problem, however, was that the power went out when someone slathered the fuse box with paste. Jess, Cece, and Coach went on a witch hunt for the perpetrator, starting with Jess’s weirdo biology-teacher-slash-banana-enthusiast colleague (Brian Posehn). When Jess’s fundamental misunderstanding of Good Cop, Bad Cop didn’t collar the Elmer’s Bandit, she was prepared to take drastic measures: “We should lock the doors — no one gets in, no one gets out, the culprit’s inside. It’s frickin’ Gosford Park!”

Luckily, Jess didn’t have to put the kids in Julian Fellowes-style lockdown because she stumbled upon Wendy setting up her next trap in the girls bathroom. Jess took pity on the little shark shirt-wearing vandal and enlisted Cece for a confidence-boosting talk about how boys are the dumbest (and aren’t they?!). Sure, Jess kind of slut-shamed Cece along the way, and, sure, it was clear she was talking about her own relationship failings and not Wendy’s adolescent angst, but the message was no less well-intended.

Meanwhile, everything came to a head outside as Schmidt’s race, Nick’s shopping cart hijacking, and Winston fleeing his mob of admirers converged in the most absurd scene ever. The best single moment of all this mayhem was Schmidt calling himself “the Hebrew Cheetah,” sporadically yelling “FloJo!” as he ran, and diving for the finish line like this unevenly matched race was the damn Olympics. Coach happened upon this display of tomfoolery and snatched out his whistle out to shame his loftmates. And boy did he shame ‘em good: “A dog would be better [at chaperoning] than you. A plant wearing underwear would be better than you. Ray Charles’ ghost would be better than you! What kind of men are you?”

They were the kind of men who freestyle rapped, it turns out. While Cece beat-boxed, the self-proclaimed Dumbest Boys in School (not Sweet Surrender, as Schmidt had wanted) spit out sick rhymes. And by “sick” I mean they were so bad you might vomit (see the full lyrics in Dotables, then watch EW’s exclusive video of the scene at your own risk!). Schmidt stepped up to the mic first, psyching himself up with four simple words: “Rap battle! 8 Mile!” His rhyme was mostly about wearing teal, which inspired a surprising amount of audience enthusiasm. Next, Nick tried to shore up Chicago pride… before realizing he was not, in fact, in Chicago and giving up entirely. Finally, Winston went to the Winston place and basically threatened to murder the kids. A tendency toward child homicide: A good trait in an aspiring LAPD cop.

Ultimately, raw denim connoisseur Todd saved the day by pulling out a boombox to play Michael Franti & SpearHead’s “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like).” Everyone hit the dance floor, where Schmidt shooed one of the teen hooligans away from Cece and got his hilarious groove on. Meanwhile, Jess and Nick edged closer to each other and had their first normal moment together — complete with shimmying! — since the break-up. The group togetherness, plus a hint of chemistry between Jess and Nick, felt a bit like a callback to the Chicken Dance in episode 3, no? What are the odds next week’s finale starts with at least two of these four in bed together?

NEXT: “Jess the Third-Hottest White Teacher”

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