It’s official: Jess is a goner. Last week, Nick’s sudden embrace of responsibility led to a sudden embrace between Jess and him. This week, the unexpected death of Nick’s father Walt proved Nick is not only responsible but endearingly vulnerable and emotionally deep in way we’ve thus far only suspected. There’s no way Jess will not find him irresistible. I fear this story between the roomfriends can only end in heartbreak, despite the fact their friendship finally overcame the awkward, post-kiss phase and grew in strength. Where and when things will go pear-shaped… the jury’s still out on that, but, if this is the kind of episode they can write when they’re not kissing, how wonderful will the relationship payoff be? Can’t. Wait.
The guys were shootin’ the bull in the loft when Jess walked in with a bunch of balloons, as someone like Jess is wont to do, worthy of the old man from Up jealous. Winston read aloud their increasingly improbable slogans as Nick walked in and straight into the cluster. He frantically punched the balloons, yelling, “Don’t booby-trap me! Stop! Shut up!” – as someone like Nick is wont to do. He received a call and walked out of the room, a balloon cluster following him. Nick: “Get offa me!” Winston, having now huffed a bit o’ helium, said in a high voice, “Nick’s just mad because that punk-ass balloon beat his ass.” He, Schmidt, and Jess took turns sounding silly until Nick came back bearing a shocked face, then announced his dad Walt had died of a heart attack. The roomies all gathered around Nick and encircled him in a hug as they issued their condolences – mind you, with helium still in their voices. Nothing takes the sadness away better than Schmidt telling Nick, “Stay strong!” in Chipmunk timbre.
So the gang headed to Chicago with Nick to lend moral support – especially Winston who reminded Nick that Walt “loved me more than he loved you, he told me that.” They arrived at Nick’s childhood home and headed inside to greet his family. There was his brother Jamie (Nick Kroll); to his credit, he was the first to isolate the sexual tension between Nick and Jess, though he was also the hypersexual sort who put carrots on snowmen’s crotches, pulled Nick’s hair during hugs (Nick deemed this too intimate), and regularly accosted his snugly dressed girlfriend with his tongue. Then there was Nick’s cousin Bobby (Bill Burr), whose most defining characteristic was his Pauly Walnuts-style tracksuit. There was also Nick’s shriveled Aunt Ruthie (The Wedding Singer’s meatball-makin’, old-lady-rappin’ Ellen Albertini Dow), whose first words were, “Don’t trust cops!” Finally there was Nick’s mother Bonnie (Margo Martindale), who was immediately wary of Jess not only because “Winny and Fat Schmidt” were the only ones she already knew but also because she inexplicably mistook Jess for Latina and thus acted (in)appropriately racist.
Long story short, Nick was the responsible one in this family because of Walt’s con man past. (Schmidt warned, ”Don’t laugh when they call him responsible. They don’t know why that’s hilarious.”) So it was on Nick to plan an Elvis-themed funeral. “That means 12 white limos and an Elvis impersonator,” explained Bonnie. It also meant Nick had to write Walt’s eulogy. The terror in his eyes was immediate. Eulogies = emotion = vulnerability ≠ Nick.
That night, Jess checked in on Nick as he sorted out the funeral budget. She offered help, and he knee-jerked that she could write the eulogy. Jess rightly noted she was ill-equipped to talk about Walt’s life and legacy since she’d only met him once – while he was selling gangsters fraudulent horse semen, no less – but Nick had completely shut down. Trying to help on a more basic level, Jess suggested, “For Elvis-themed music… what about Elvis?” Nick: “Really, I’m so slammed right now, I can’t hear new stuff.” Well that answered the question of where Nick was emotionally. And now Jess was writing Walt’s eulogy.
NEXT: “You beautiful black butterfly”