“Menus” starts off with Jess excited about a new cause for her students, the terribly named Ocean Conservation Day 2013, with “OCD Rules!” written below it on t-shirts. Jess has discovered that, despite living in Los Angeles all their lives, few of her students have ever seen the ocean. She takes it upon herself to plan a class field trip. While it seems unlikely that any LA child has never seen the ocean, regardless of its believability, it’s a weak opening to an episode.
Coach is still around, having moved into (temporarily?) Schmidt’s vacant room as he finally finishes moving out. Coach sees Nick down a behemoth breakfast of various Chinese foods and begs Nick to start exercising with him. Nick protests at first but eventually gives in. Winston wants to join, but Coach remarks on how Winston is always too injured, setting in motion a rousing sequence of events leading to Winston remaining in a wheelchair for the rest of the episode.
Jess, upon arriving home from an unsuccessful field trip debate with her school’s principal, is outraged at the amount of Chinese food menus cluttering their floor. She takes her rage to the restaurant in question to argue that they’re killing the environment with their wasteful advertising. The back and forth with restaurant owner Brian is worth a chuckle, at best. Winston’s interaction with Brian, however, is hilarious, leading to the gem of a line, “I might have run over a lizard with my wheelchair…but I am ashamed of it.”
Coach trying to whip Nick into shape is pretty funny, and Outside Dave makes a cameo yet again. Schmidt gets jealous of Coach moving in and tries to weasel his way back. The Gang tries to pull Coach out of his heartbreak, and Nick ventures to solve Jess’s field trip conundrum; Nick’s attempt at a run near the end of the episode is especially enjoyable, prompting Coach to tell him his body is shaped like a beanbag.
More than anything though, I found myself wondering something for the first time in the series: where are we going? To me, this felt like the first episode where New Girl felt stalled, unsure of where to head next. There were some funny moments, but it was really the first time—this season, or series—that I wondered if the show has an expiration date. I hope The Gang rebounds next week.
Den of Geek Rating: 2 Out of 5 Stars