New Girl is back, and, with “Shark,” it’s as good as ever, if not better. The last episode before the break was a more emotionally invested, Christmas-y type thing. “Shark” is not so interested in such matters, but instead focuses on being hilarious.
The storyline that gives “Shark” its name involves night construction, and the battle of dolphin versus shark as embodied by Jess and Schmidt. At first, they are both trying to get rid of the noise, but they go about it in different ways, with Jess trying to go through the typical, bureaucratic channels of government, even if that involves Outside Dave trying to shove muffins through a phone. Meanwhile, Schmidt tries to schmooze a councilwoman, but finds himself infatuated with her, because she’s so mean to him, and cunning and conniving.
Both Jess and Schmidt are at the top of their games, Schmidt in particular, especially after he falls under the spell of the congresswoman, who is also great, and hopefully will be back again. It seems like she might, because Schmidt isn’t done with her, or rather she’s not done with him, when the episode ends. Schmidt wants to be her Hillary, and he’s up for it, even if she is so clearly using him.
Additionally, Jess ends up winning the whole noise debate. First, because Schmidt is obsessed with how poorly tailored his cuffs are, but also because of Ryan’s help. This is important to note, because Ryan got to finally be something more than the British dreamboat with whom Jess is infatuated. He gets to be funny and, basically, part of the gang. Nick’s lady friend, Tran’s granddaughter, is also around early in the episode, but she doesn’t get to do anything.
Ryan, however, gets drunk and weird, and also plays the part of a sexy construction worker with a penchant for cheeseburger sandwiches. This is nice to see. Jess and Ryan being all hot and heavy is not necessarily interesting. Jess and Ryan being funny together, though, is something worth watching.
Meanwhile, Winston is an actual cop now. Like, he has a uniform and everything… which he lets his friends wear. However, Coach and Nick are worried, and not because Winston has cat bowls for all of them. They think he may get hurt, stabbed by a little girl or something, and they are not assuaged by his training partner—played by the delightful Nasim Pedrad, co-star of the much-loved Mulaney. She’s not an imposing physical presence, but she is a very funny woman. Alas, she isn’t given a ton to do here, whereas she is the highlight of the underrated John Mulaney sitcom.
So, Coach and Nick start doing things like offering Pedrad’s character a big plastic bag full of assorted candy, and following her and Winston as they patrol the beat. Eventually, they are taken to a support group, where nobody will make fun of Coach for crying, except Nick.
Every character in “Shark” is basically used at their best (save for, perhaps, Cece who falls through the cracks a bit). Most importantly, it’s hilarious. The episode is loaded with great jokes and riffs. Things like the candy bit, and some Outside Dave stuff, and Schmidt pointing out that the Jolly Green Giant does not stomp on people, but instead encourages them to eat their vegetables—it all worked. This was an excellent episode of television, and it also seems to set the table well for the rest of the season. New Girl is back in a big way. Construction workers may want to spend their time reading about net neutrality. Those who want some laughs can stick with stuff like “Shark.”
Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)