New Girl has given us Nick and Jess as roommates, Nick and Jess in a relationship and with “Fired Up,” we are getting the next evolution of Nick and Jess: Power Couple. Even when they spend hardly any screen time together—as is the case here—there’s still this feeling that even though there isn’t direct help from the other, these two couldn’t be where they are in their lives without each other. “Fired Up” works as a great example of what this show has always been about: growing up, even when you feel lost and uncertain, with the help of your friends.
Whenever we’ve seen Jess at school prior to “Fired Up,” she’s always been out of her element, almost like she could be overpowered by her kids at any moment. But this time around, Jess has gotten Coach hired as a new gym teacher and volleyball coach. Thanks to his his motivation, she decides to try for what she wants rather than waiting for it, fighting for the position of school vice president. Of course, she easily receives the unwanted position, but still, had she not given it a shot, she wouldn’t have reached her newfound position of power. However, with this great power comes the unfortunate great new responsibility to fire your recently hired friend when budgets don’t come in as planned.
Coach’s new position as coach to some no-talent idiot babies might have started as just a paycheck, but quickly he learns to care for those little idiots. For the first time since returning, Coach has a passion for something, which he would have never received without the help of Jess. She eventually stands up to the principal, stating that Coach can in fact stay and that they’ll find a budget solution elsewhere. Her stance unites the teachers to find answers to the problem, and we see that power looks pretty good on Jessica Day.
Meanwhile, the other half of the power couple is finally putting his passing of the bar to good use. Well, at least, use. Schmidt is being sued after a person trips in the makeshift store Schmidt has made in the storefront he bought for Abby last episode. With little money to pay for legal council, Nick decides to use his degree to help his friend and to prove to those preppy dicks he went to law school that he can be an effective lawyer.
Nick’s lawyer skills are about as rusty as you could imagine and even Winston pretending to be a lawyer—or should I call him Courtroom Brown—does a better job as a fake lawyer than Nick. When Nick proves to be mostly a disaster, he falls back on the weird Nick Miller instincts, pulls an incident of his own and states his plans to countersue, making Nick’s lawyer career undefeated.
Nick’s victory is less about him eventually moving into a full-time law career, but more about the confidence he gets from genuinely trying something and succeeding. Before Jess, Nick would have never made such an attempt, and even while it was shaky, his abilities made Nick a winner for once.
“Fired Up” doesn’t give substantial stories to Winston and Cece, yet still they both do great jobs with what they’re given. Winston has become a master as scene stealing, as he does in every one of his scenes here. Cece’s job as a bartender allows her to meet an Australian twenty-year-old named Buster who she agrees to go out with. Buster and Cece are fun to watch together, and at least it brings the return of Mike, but I can’t imagine this relationship will last long, if it even goes beyond this episode. I’d still be surprised if Schmidt and Cece don’t at least share their feelings with each other before the rapidly approaching end of this season.
New Girl is all about these friends finding adulthood together, rather than struggling through it alone, and “Fired Up” is one of the finest example of this. These friendships and relationships are making them better, stronger, more confident people who might not have been able to tackle the world solo, but together, they push themselves further than they even thought possible.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.