TV Review: ‘New Girl’ 5×03 “Jury Duty”

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Welcome back to my weekly New Girl review! To catch up on last week’s episode, check out my previous coverage here.

Not so long ago in this very galaxy, Jess Day was no more than a Dirty Dancing-loving gal who had just ended a relationship with a garbage can of a man. She was the new girl who made her way into the heart of the loft, soon becoming an invaluable, if not idiosyncratic, piece to the overall puzzle.

At once, “Jury Duty” refreshes us of that beginning and pays tribute to how special Zooey Deschanel’s character is. Jessica Day can — and has, and will continue to — hold the loft together, even if it’s from the pool of an “aggressively mediocre” hotel at which she must stay after being sequestered for a month-long trial, a smart decision by the show-runners around Deschanel’s pregnancy. Playing by the rules is so very Jess Day, and she’s certainly been in odder situations, like drinking hose water after crashing a child’s birthday party, or hiding out in a shed because she believes a student in her writing class is a psychopath with a singular thirst for her blood. To me, it seems a plausible explanation for her absence, and it means we’ll get to see a new “new girl” in Megan Fox, who is set to play Reagan, the all-business sales representative for Big Pharma with whom Cece has a fervent past. And it will give Jess the opportunity to create something real with “gosh damn dreamboat” attorney Daniel (John Cho) without the overlapping bickering yips from the rest of the gang.

“Jury Duty” feels both like a warm hug and a champagne toast in Jess Day’s honor. It’s an episode I, and likely most New Girl fans, have been hungry for since the show’s third season. Rock-solid, nostalgic and relentlessly funny, this week’s episode looks out in all directions — to the past as it tugs on a red-string reminder of how the gang’s big, shared life came together, to the future for Cece and Schmidt (and Jess, too) and inward on each character as they come to recall how important the people around them are, no matter how dysfunctional or bedraggled they can be. “Jury Duty” is a celebration of not only Jess Day, but everyone in apartment 4D.

While I normally highlight a few of the funniest bits of each episode, “Jury Duty” had a grocery list of lines that made me chuckle. Here are the ten best.

“She’ll rip your dingle off and sew it back on your head like a unicorn horn.” — Jess warns Nick just how vicious Cece can become if he deigns stir the pot re: the “hot slob” issue.

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“I’d rather see a painting of Arnold Schwarzenegger mid-coitus.” — Schmidt disagrees with Winston’s admiration of a C.M.-Coolidge-esque, “Dogs Playing Poker” panting.

“Same… time.” — Both Nick and Winston are tip-to-toe irritated with Cece’s disregard for cleanliness in the loft, stating in unison that she is “really messy.” The goofy guys attempt to keep the rapport going, but crash and hilariously burn when they try to recreate the moment.

“Why does he act like the Pope when he’s happy?” — Fresh out of the shower with Cece, Schmidt is beaming and kisses Nick on the forehead. Jess, on the other end of Nick’s phone struggling to squash the beef between Nick and Cece who are in the throes of a low-blows-filled argument, hears the smooch and questions how Schmidt displays his joy.

“It’s like I’m living with Secretariat… the horse!” — Keeping true to her “hot slob” moniker, Cece left a bag of uneaten carrots resting on the end of the sofa. Nick likens the experience to living with the Triple-Crown-winning thoroughbred.

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“So help me Gob.” — Jess comically misspeaks in court, reciting the sworn testimony oath.

“The year of our Lord 2005.” — Schmidt weaves a tale of how the roommate agreement was crafted, recalling the traumas the American South endured after Hurricane Katrina.

“Everything is a weapon.” — The gang likens Jess’s departure for jury duty to a prison sentence, and Schmidt gives her a word of wisdom to help her make it through.

“Five thousand, 2500, 600 minutes.” — Jess leaves behind a jar of advice for her darling dearests, of which one states Schmidt must stop singing Rent songs in the shower. Though we’ve nothing to judge his voice on, Schmidt should brush up on his lyric memorization if he ever considers a professional singing career.

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“You’re my slave for 17 days.” — It’s implied that Nick, Schmidt and Jess once had a shish kebab throwing contest, and a single kebab stuck to the ceiling of the loft. An advice slip states the stipulations regarding its status: if it falls while she’s gone, Nick wins, but if it falls after she returns, Schmidt wins. Alas, it spirals to the hardwood and Nick is victorious, shouting at Schmidt his punishment for losing.

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.