It’s never really been about the kiss.
Taken out of context, think of how well the kiss between Nick and Jess in “Cooler” would have gone over if it just happened and was never talked about again. Fan outrage would have caused mass riots—fires across the country and Douchebag Jars everywhere being smashed. What really matters is what Nick and Jess did after the kiss. “Table 34,” “Parking Spot,” and “Tinfinity” all dealt with different aspects of how their relationship was changing, but “Quick Hardening Caulk” is the first time these two sit down, are honest with each other and state, “yes, I want you.” “Cooler” may have been the start of change, but “Quick Hardening Caulk” is the result of that change.
What brings about the realization that Jess wants Nick is his newfound ambition and drive. Nick has been slowly heading towards this growth since “Fancyman,” but now he comes to find out that being more mature is actually attractive to women, especially his new boss Shane, played by Odette Annabelle. Just hearing that Nick has business ideas, wants to get himself together and think about his future makes Jess have to drag Cece into a conversation about how badly she wants Nick.
Yet Nick doesn’t realize this, until an accident at a hardware store leaves Jess drugged up and wanting Nick’s “little piggy.” But Jess doesn’t realize that she’s done this, and Nick had no idea she felt like this. Once Jess sees Nick and Shane kiss, Jess and Nick have to confront how they really feel about each other. And they want each other. Bad. As they finally succumb to their feelings, they complain at each other and yell, but it’s exactly how you’d want these two to get together. Even smashing Schmidt’s new fish tank that’s the size of a sixth-grader only temporarily slows down their sucking face.
Now why exactly does Schmidt have an aquarium? Well, he is still reeling from Cece’s wedding announcement, so Winston takes him to an aquarium where Schmidt sees a lionfish and demands to have her. Schmidt doesn’t want any janky freshwater bitchfish; he wants the lionfish, with its caramel stripes and fish boobs. It’s clear to everyone except Schmidt that this isn’t about a fish, it’s about Cece, but watching Winston and Schmidt together again, for the first time since trying to buy crack from street youths, shows that this is another one of New Girl’s great character combinations.
But “Quick Hardening Caulk” just also might be New Girl’s most hilarious episode in two seasons. Almost every line is this half-hour is just comedic brilliance. From the sexual innuendos at the hardware store to the group discussing Schmidt’s new drinking problem and fish tank, it’s all incredible. Even when Nick and Jess are fighting over how they feel about each other, the humor is incredibly strong, when Nick mistakenly believes that Jess’ attraction to him makes her a gold-digger.
“Quick Hardening Caulk” utilizes the pairing off of Nick/Jess and Winston/Schmidt, resulting in some of the funniest material New Girl has ever done, while also bringing all four of them to romantic realizations that needed to happen.