TV Review: New Girl 5×04 “No Girl”

Screenshot 2016-01-27 12.23.10Welcome back to my weekly New Girl recap/review! To catch up on last week’s episode, check out my previous coverage here.

Sweet little Jess Day has been sequestered not for a misdemeanor trial or a custody battle, but for the cold-blooded murder of celebrity chef Susanna Gabey’s husband. While she’s remaining loyal to the justice system, contributing to the “annoyingly inquisitive” jury, the gang back at the loft is beginning to crumble. Let’s take a peek at how they’re faring in her absence.

Over in Nick’s corner, he’s determined to keep to his word of being the greatest best man anyone could dream of, and tells Schmidt he’ll take him where no one else can: Tokyo. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Nick is strapped for cash. $9000 to be exact, spent on non-refundable tickets. His solution? Turn the loft into an Airbnb-style “boutique hotel.” Their litany of guests includes aspiring novelist Brandon (Fred Armisen), a family whose daughter is a Pacino-obsessed actor and a Japanese woman named Kumiko who speaks limited English and crushes on Nick. Despite his aversions at first – stating that he doesn’t want the loft to turn into a “public pool” filled with strangers’ bodily fluids – Schmidt hops aboard Nick’s crazy train, and both boys vow to avoid their billionaire college friend Todd (Stephen Rannazzisi) whose awful personality stains his offers to pay for the bachelor party. Eventually, the pair begin to crack in hilarious fashion and struggle to pick up the pieces.

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After sweating bullets over KC, his wishy-washy could-be girlfriend, Winston’s worries have worsened and without the comfort of Jess on which to fall, he becomes convinced that KC is stepping out on him. Desperate to break his “bad woman cycle,” Winston turns to Cece for guidance who suggests he make KC jealous by snapping selfies with a hot girl. And conveniently, Cece is that hot girl. However, their plan to send KC running to Winston sours, and he quickly deteriorates into a mess that he believes only Jess can clean. Cece takes the reins with Winston and tries her hardest to stay atop the horse, on a mission to prove she is just as strong, compassionate and savvy with the other roommates’ woes as Jess could ever be.

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“No Girl” was an opportunity for the cast to shine sans Zooey Deschanel. As with every episode thus far in the show’s fifth season, I laughed. I was thoroughly entertained and admired each character even more. But “No Girl” was something special. It encapsulated some of my hopes for this season, making me think, “This is what I’ve been looking for!” In particular, Hannah Simone granted my wish as she put her comedic abilities to wonderful use in her scenes with Lamorne Morris. For actors who play characters widely considered secondary, Simone and Morris have shown they have the capacity for as much banter and antics between themselves as they do with the rest of the cast. And, of course, it was a treat to have Fred Armisen guest star as a lost-his-marbles character, a portrayal that lent itself to the New Girl brand of humor and gave the cast open air to fill the room with their talent. Additionally, as the gang tries to pull themselves together without their mama bird Jess, not only do their bonds of friendship grow, but so do they as people. “No Girl” answered my metaphorical TV prayers and leaves me hopeful that season 5 will be a smash.

I loved the first episode of New Girl without the original new girl. If it’s any indication of how future episodes will pan out and the overall trajectory of the show, color me excited.

Highlights: “That’s ass. That’s Veg-ass.” “You have the focus of a coked-up Italian on a summer day.” “I’m gonna eat sushi off my own ass!” “WATER AND LEAVES.” “You weak-handed moron.”

Rating: 9/10

AJ Caulfield is a 22-year-old writer, massive goofball, and quite possibly Leslie Knope's long-lost twin. She's a big fan of 80's rock music, female-directed films, and Mad Men.