Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 2, Episode 20 of Fox's "New Girl" titled "Chicago."
After the incredible episode we were rewarded with last week, this week might seem at first like a let-down, but it isn't. It's life. And real life sometimes changes your plans and keeps you grounded, just like in Nick's case when his dad, Walt, unexpectedly passes away from a heart attack. The grieving gang heads out to Chicago, Nick's hometown, for the funeral.
The trio arrives at The Miller home, where Nick spent his childhood except for the fall of '88 to the spring of '89 -- which was their van year -- to find his crazy family being it's crazy self. His younger brother Jamie is understandably yet overly distraught (and is a spitting image of Nick, by the way), his mother doesn't have anything planned and the irresponsible Nick Miller we know and love is forced to take on a different role: that of the grownup. Turns out, with his father coming and going, even as a young man Nick had to step in and take care of his family.
His father's dream funeral, setting aside that he actually had one, was to be buried like Elvis. That includes 12 white limos, an Elvis impersonator, and a eulogy -- all of which Nick is charge of. When Jess checks up on him and tries to process Nick's whole secret life, Nick himself barely processes the death of his father. He is so buried in chores and assignments, he doesn't have time to think... or write a eulogy, which he delegates to Jess (who spent but an hour of her life with Walt).
Winston and Schmidt, who prove to be a modernized version of Laurel and Hardy as the show progresses, try to get ready for the funeral but Schmidt is having a hard time accepting death. He is in fear of it, shocker, and Winston tries to help him overcome his dread of the open casket by pretending to be a corpse.
Jess tries to figure out the eulogy thing by consulting Jamie and a redhead who hangs around a lot and seems to be either a cousin or a close family friend, Bobby. As Jamie tells her of Walt's trademarks and signature pieces, the two men start to argue over his gold chain - whose dad did it originally belong to. Jess tries to tell Nick that she can't write the eulogy but manages to upset his mom, who never liked her in the first place, and Nick, who feels overburdened and storms out (but man, his grandma is funny).
At the funeral, Nick shows up drunk and with a $20 hobo-Elvis who thought he was getting paid to murder The King. He even wrote his dad's eulogy: "Walt Miller, AMIRITE?" Jess decides to take care of it and sober up Nick and hobo-Elvis. Winston and Schmidt end up with the task of stalling the ceremony, and while Schmidt watches the door he sees Bobby trying to steal the aforementioned gold chain off the body. In the scuffle, he comes face to face with Walt's corpse and realizes he is no longer afraid. It also brings out the Long Islander in him, something that was touched on last episode too ("we mean b'iness!").
As Jess tries to sober up Nick, they seem to have an actual, relationship-y moment. He explains to her why he can't write the eulogy, she tells him she's not mad. She has his back no matter what, no matter how stupid it gets. Then Elvis stumbles out of the bathroom stall and she has to run after him before he reaches Bonnie (Nick's mom), who meanwhile asks Winston to say a few words to keep the guests entertained and the spirits light.
Winston starts out by calling it a celebration, until he looks at Walt's dead body and crumbles down in tears. "Oh Walt, how could you do this to us!" he cries out. In the hall, Bonnie spots half-passed out Elvis and freaks out. She takes it out on Jess, telling her she doesn't want her there, but Jess ends up saving the day. Just as Bonnie is about to dismiss everyone, Jess shows up in the Elvis costume and starts belting out "In the Ghetto." Nick, who finally emerges from the bathroom, walks in to see it happen and looks at Jess the way I look at Pecan pie, all warm and loving.
He then takes the podium and delivers and short but on-point eulogy. "He never was scared. How did he do that? I don't know if Walt was a good guy or a bad guy in the whole scheme of things, but he was my dad and I'm sure going to miss him."
As the gang leaves the Millers, Schmidt is still at it with Bobby, who warns him to stay out of Boston, Winston takes some Walt memorabilia, and Jess gets cheese puffs. Bonnie doesn't hate her anymore. When Nick hugs his mom goodbye, she apologizes to him for depending on him when he was a kid. "I'm glad you have someone that takes care of you," she tells him, looking at Jess.
If anyone is keeping count, that's now two for two on Nick and Jess' parents. Just saying...
Winston: "I want you to know, I really did love Walt."Nick: "He was my dad."Walt: "Yea, but he did love me more than he loved you. He told me that."Nick: "Yea, he told me that too actually."
Schmidt: "This is getting very personal. Maybe none of us should go to the funeral. The early buzz on this thing is that it's going to be a real drag."
Schmidt: "Look at all these buttons, Winston. I look like a remote control."
Winston: "Schmidt, I need to breathe, okay? Because I'm coaching you and also for regular life reasons."
Schmidt: "You left us too soon, you beautiful black butterfly. You know, when we first met, I thought that we would be rivals, for Nick's attention, for who wore Easter colors best. And then rivalry became friendship. We've laughed, we've swum, you cut my toenails. Are you the brother that I've never had? No. You're the brother that I've always had."
"New Girl" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox.