Half of “Exes” worked, and it wasn’t the one that was in all the promos for this fairly mediocre episode.
Nick bumping into a previously unmentioned ex-girlfriend, one who’s pissed he left her with no explanation and thinks Jess is the reason, is just too convenient of a device for him and Jess to contend with and cause issues in their relationship. To have Jess think it’s fine to be friends with your ex, then have to fend off her own (an amusing Adam Brody) who misread their friendship and thinks she wants to date him, all just felt very farcical. Crazy female exes on sitcoms unfortunately aren’t new (they’re always female, btw). The Caroline character was just kind of a one-note lunatic doing the things that those characters tend to do, including going postal after the suggestion of being friends. At least you could sympathize a little with bored, married dad Berkley (Brody), who confirms what Nick, Winston, and Coach says to Jess about guys who’re friends with their exes.
It was a less than stellar route to take from crazy Caroline smashing a car not belonging to Nick and Jess warding off Berkley, to Nick revealing to Caroline he loved Jess the moment she entered the loft three years ago. That’s hard to believe, considering there was very little indication given of how he felt early on. Even Jess, representing the viewers, questioned this. But it thankfully avoided what I would’ve seen as a betrayal of the character for him to treat someone so shabbily without a good enough reason.
The highlight of the episode was the lonely, off-his-game Schmidt and his gesture of giving Coach and Winston (a.k.a Moneypenny) keys to his swanky loft backfiring. Max Greenfield has always been great at making Schmidt a loveable douche. It can’t be said how unlikable and totally off-putting this character could’ve been in the hands of another actor. Schmidt is very much a cad, but the physical and verbal gems Greenfield delivers (him crying with grapes might make him a contender to replace Troy crying from Community, and his “open floor plan bang spots” were fantastic) are the reasons why his performance has been nominated for an Emmy in the past. Plus, the coupons for free subs he gives to Coach and Winston upon entrance to his place were funny…and cash saving.
I’m enjoying the Coach and Winston pairing more with each episode, with the latter as the usual target for ridicule. The two, impressed with Schmidt’s pad, separately bring dates there under the guise that they’re Schmidt, leading to unsurprising confusion. The whole episode was filled with farce, but it’s more effective here simply because Damon Wayans Jr., Lamorne Morris and Greenfield were so great (you could see Greenfield having trouble holding it together when Wayans Jr. goes on about “pinning the tail on the va-donkey”). Also, nice to see Winston’s night trucker girlfriend Bertie (Jessica Chaffin) return, even without her stomach meds.