On New Girl, no one has garnered more laughs from me than Schmidt. He’s a cocky, organized, control freak who is prone to making himself more so with every episode and unusual Schmidt witticism. Out of all the characters, including Jess, Schmidt has probably become the most fleshed-out. We know more about his past, his job, why he is who he is and his romantic life than any of the other characters at this point. It almost seems like Schmidt is becoming more of a lead than even Jess. While I have no problem with the switch of focus, it’s a shame that “Control”’s writing isn’t up to par with what Max Greenfield can do with this character.
Schmidt has proven that he likes his life to be structured, which is why he is having such a hard time dating Cece behind everyone’s back. Cece is in charge of the relationship, leaving Schmidt helpless. When Jess brings home a hutch, Schmidt has had enough of the unruliness and smashes Jess’ new find. In order to calm Schmidt down a bit, she takes him to the beach to show him the carefree side of life. But Jess takes Schmidt too far, as he joins a drum circle and starts wearing sweatshirts and making necklaces with crystals in them. Back at the apartment after a drunk night of poker, Nick now owes Winston $487. The two agree to kick it down to $200, but the constant bickering over how much should be owed leads to the two slap-fighting in a grocery store.
“Control” feels like typical sitcom tropes—two roommates fighting each other, one person doing a personality 180—but doesn’t make the usual twist that makes New Girl refreshing. Schmidt is a fun character to have around, but many of the episodes where he is the focus haven’t been able to keep up the quality of the other episodes. While Schmidt is the most focused of the characters, many of the jokes at his expense in episodes are essentially a laundry list of douchey quotes or letting Greenfield riff on a certain idea. This is amusing, but it can feel like improv getting in the way of story.
“Control” also doesn’t have the laugh-out-loud humor that it has had recently, but it does have several humorous moments. I would have no problem with seeing an entire flashback episode to when the three boys moved in together. Tonight we see when Fat Schmidt moved in, as a cornrowed Winston and soul-patched Nick played baseball with a head of lettuce, leaving the apartment so disgusting it made Schmidt actually vomit. New Girl has found a nice way to harness its flashbacks and use them for context and plot, rather than random asides like Scrubs did.
One of the weakest points of “Control” is a scene where Jess explains her actions, stating that by bringing her hutch into the mix, she wanted to be part of the group’s family, but instead messed up the group’s ecosystem. The scene is fine, but it does feel like they’ve already agreed on this in the past. The group has already gone through so much and become a makeshift family that it seems unnecessary to have the show literally come out and say “welcome to the family.” I mean, I don’t think there’s ever been any threat that Jess is going to be kicked out of the apartment anytime soon.
The character of Schmidt is such an intricate one, with weird quirks and traits, but “Control” seems to almost go too far with this. “Control” isn’t a bad episode by any stretch, but it doesn’t seem like it does the Schmidt character justice. New Girl is consistently showing a fine bit of growth; just look at how the episode is structured compared to earlier episodes and how the show is able to give all the characters something to do, with the occasional exception of fifth wheel Cece. Over time, Schmidt is going to be hogging more of the spotlight from Jess; it would just be great if those moments could work better with the character.